Office for Civil Rights Announces Consolidation
On June 16, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a reorganization of its regional offices which will have a significant effect on our clients. The former Region VII Office, located in Kansas City, Missouri (which previously covered Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri), has now been consolidated into the Region V Office, located in Chicago, Illinois (which covered Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Indiana). The consolidation results in a new Midwest Region covering all of the above-listed states.
Under the reorganization which was effective June 15, 2015, OCR will continue to have offices in Kansas City and Chicago, but the Chicago office is the headquarters. The announcement states that existing OCR investigations will remain with the office of origin, but does not address how new investigations will be distributed between the two offices. While it is clear that the Kansas City office will still be involved in conducting investigations, we suspect that some level of sign-off from the Chicago office will be required before investigations can be closed. We have seen recent delays in finalizing investigations which appear to otherwise be resolved that could be due to this reorganization.
Stay tuned as we wait to see how this reorganization will affect the timing and approach of OCR in conducting its investigations.