Peace Corps:

Progress in Minority Representation

NSIAD-92-76: Published: Jan 13, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Peace Corps' progress in increasing minority representation among both volunteers and staff, focusing on: (1) programs it implemented to improve minority representation; and (2) cross-cultural and diversity training for volunteers.

GAO found that: (1) the Peace Corps' strong commitment to improving its minority profile has increased minority representation among volunteers from about 7 percent in May 1990 to about 12 percent in July 1991; (2) the Peace Corps has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve minority representation among volunteers, including nationwide and area office minority recruitment goals, targeted recruitment at predominantly minority colleges and universities, and educational programs aimed at increasing awareness of the Peace Corps; (3) the Peace Corps has not developed demographic and market data to assist in setting realistic area office recruiting goals and identifying where qualified minorities are located or trained its managers on how to gather such data and use it to develop a comprehensive, strategic approach to minority recruitment; (4) the Peace Corps provides volunteers with cross-cultural training and racial and ethnic training to enhance their awareness of the diversity of ethnic groups; (5) minority representation among Peace Corps staff has slowly increased in such targeted job categories as area office managers, recruiters, and country directors, mainly because of the low number of minorities among returned volunteers, which is the source of most staff employees; and (6) to help achieve minority recruitment goals, the Peace Corps established a task force of area managers to revise recruiters' performance standards and awarded a contract to assist with the development of demographic information.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Peace Corps contracted for two studies to determine the behavior of minorities to see what it is doing wrong in recruiting them, has established a working relationship with the Census Bureau to obtain the Bureau's data, and has hired consultants to train recruiters and managers in the use of the data.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should continue to develop demographic and market data for the area offices to use in recruiting minorities and conducting minority outreach activities.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Peace Corps has revised its standards of performance to include performance expectations relating to minority recruitment and outreach activities.

    Recommendation: The Director, Peace Corps, should ensure that performance evaluations for area office recruiters reflect such factors as minority recruitment and outreach activities.

    Agency Affected: Peace Corps


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