On his first day in office, President Joe Biden promoted his Administration’s commitment to racial equity. As the New York Times wrote, “[i]n his inauguration speech, the president pledged to defeat “white supremacy,” using a burst of executive orders on Day 1 to declare that “advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our government.” On Day One, the president issued an Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.
Among other things, the EO requires each federal agency to conduct an “equity assessment.” EO, Sec. 5. Under this provision,
[t]he head of each agency, or designee, shall, in consultation with the Director of OMB, select certain of the agency’s programs and policies for a review that will assess whether underserved communities and their members face systemic barriers in accessing benefits and opportunities available pursuant to those policies and programs. The head of each agency, or designee, shall conduct such review and within 200 days of the date of this order provide a report to the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy (APDP) reflecting findings on the following:
(a) Potential barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face to enrollment in and access to benefits and services in Federal programs; (b) Potential barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face in taking advantage of agency procurement and contracting opportunities; (c) Whether new policies, regulations, or guidance documents may be necessary to advance equity in agency actions and programs; and (d) The operational status and level of institutional resources available to offices or divisions within the agency that are responsible for advancing civil rights or whose mandates specifically include serving underrepresented or disadvantaged communities.
There is a section, Sec. 6, on the allocation of federal resources to “advance fairness and opportunity” where “(b) The Director of OMB shall, in coordination with the heads of agencies, study strategies, consistent with applicable law, for allocating Federal resources in a manner that increases investment in underserved communities, as well as individuals from those communities.”
The EO (Sec. 9) creates the “Equitable Data Working Group.” “Many Federal datasets are not disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income, veteran status, or other key demographic variable [and t] his lack of data has cascading effects and impedes efforts to measure and advance equity. A first step to promoting equity in Government action is to gather the data necessary to inform that effort.”
The EO revokes two Executive Orders, EO 13950 of September 22, 2020 (Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping) and EO 13958 of November 2, 2020 (Establishing the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission). These EOs were both issued by Pres. Donald Trump.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More