On his first day in office, President Biden signed an Executive Order titled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government.” Noting the human costs of systemic racism and the widespread disparities in laws and public policies that have denied underrepresented communities equal opportunity, the Executive Order lays out a comprehensive and systematic approach to advancing equity throughout the federal government.
The Executive Order establishes actions to be taken by agencies to identify barriers to equity, including assessing whether programs and policies result in systemic barriers to opportunities and identifying ways to allocate federal resource to advance equal opportunity. The White House Domestic Policy Council has been tasked with coordinating the efforts to achieve the goal of incorporating the principles and policies of equity throughout the government. The Executive Order directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to work with the heads of agencies to first research methods for assessing whether policies and programs create barriers to equal opportunity and then have agencies select a sample of their programs/policies to assess using identified methods.
The Executive Order also includes a section focused on the importance of allocating federal resources to advance equal opportunity and fairness. The Executive Order directs the Director of OMB to identify opportunities to promote equity in the proposed federal budget and to research strategies on allocating resources in a way that increases investment in underserved communities. Agencies are also tasked with assessing agency procurement to address any barriers in equal participation and to engage with members of underserved and underrepresented communities.
The second part of the Executive Order discusses methods to improve data available that reports on factors such as race, ethnicity, and gender. To address the lack of data, the Executive Order establishes an Interagency Working Group on Equitable Data. This group is to research data collection methods to identify inadequacies and to propose strategies for addressing the gaps. Finally, as noted previously, this Executive Order rescinds Executive Order 13950 – Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping which banned some types of diversity trainings.