Summary: H.R.2259 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Public Law No: 115-256 (10/09/2018)

Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018

This bill modifies various aspects of the Peace Corps, including changes to the provisioning of health care to volunteers, program oversight, and how it handles sexual assault allegations.

The President shall ensure that each Peace Corps overseas post has medical services consistent with the size and scope of the post. The bill lays out criteria for hiring medical officers and support staff, including the candidate's medical training and experience, record of performance, understanding of the local language and culture, and the ability to work in English.

The Peace Corps shall evaluate the medical staff in each country to ensure that they are complying with all relevant policies and guidelines, and that the staff members are receiving the necessary continuing medical education. It shall confirm that such a review has been completed in its annual budget justification to Congress.

The Peace Corps shall ensure that all medical officers serving in malaria-endemic countries receive training in recognizing the side effects of malaria medications. It shall consult with experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for recommendations on malaria-preventing medication.

The Peace Corps shall implement its response to the Peace Corps Inspector General's recommendations in a report about a volunteer's death in Morocco. That report found issues such as gaps in medical emergency preparedness practices and problems in oversight. The Peace Corps shall also report to Congress semiannually as to the progress of the implementation.

The bill authorizes the Peace Corps to provide medical benefits to a volunteer for 120 days following the end of service, if the injury was sustained while serving in the Peace Corps and proximately caused by such service.

The bill relaxes appointment term restrictions for certain critical management or management support positions that require specialized technical or technical skills. For such positions, the Peace Corps may make or renew appointments for up to five years. Such appointments shall not be subject to current limits on appointment term length.

The Peace Corps may not open, close, significantly reduce, or suspend an office without consulting Congress at least 15 days in advance, except when the action is necessary to ameliorate a substantial security risk to Peace Corps personnel.

The bill also directs the President to brief the Peace Corps Inspector General after the death of a volunteer. The briefing shall include the available facts and circumstances of the incident, subsequent Peace Corps actions, and if it is determined that further inquiry is not required, the reasoning for that conclusion.

The Inspector General may independently review the death and of Peace Corps actions in response. A member of the U.S. Armed Forces or an employee of another U.S. department may be detailed to the Inspector General to assist with the review.

The Peace Corps shall provide each applicant with specific, aggregated, and easily accessible information and about crimes and other risks in each country that the applicant may be invited to serve. The information for each country shall include (1) an overview of past crimes against volunteers, including unreported crimes, (2) the rate of early termination of a volunteer's service, (3) information about health risks, and (4) the nature and frequency of reports of sexual harassment from volunteers. The applicant shall have the option to apply to serve in a different country. Currently, applicants receive information about crimes and risks after being invited to serve in a specific country.

The bill directs the Peace Corps to require each post to have designated staff responsible for serving victims of sexual assault. The Peace Corps shall also gather additional information about sexual assault, such as instances where an employee or volunteer resigns after being accused of assault but before a final determination has been made.

The bill permanently authorizes the Office of Victim Advocacy to assist victims of sexual assault. It extends the authorization of the Sexual Assault Advisory Council to October 1, 2023, and gives the Council authority to conduct case reviews.