President Biden signed an executive order directing all federal agencies to create an annual equity action plan. This plan is intended to remove barriers that prevent agency resources from reaching “underserved” communities.
This move is in response to Biden’s executive order 2021, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government.” It asked agencies to create a “whole of government approach to equity.” Since its signing, the order has directed billions in federal resources to “disadvantaged communities.”
Biden’s “Further Promoting Racial Equity and Supporting Underserved Communities through the Federal Government” is Biden’s latest order. The White House stated that more needs to be done.
The White House released a statement saying that despite the significant progress made by the Biden-Harris Administration, it is clear that many underserved communities (many of which have suffered generations of discrimination) still face unacceptable barriers to equal opportunity or the American Dream. “It is crucial that we reject the narrow and restrictive view of American opportunity in a zero-sum world.
Agents are required to prepare annual plans to explain how they will “address any barriers that underserved communities might face in accessing and gaining from agency policies …”.”
The order calls for federal agencies to create “agency equity groups” and provide senior leadership positions that will be accountable for implementing the order. These teams will also be required to fulfill another requirement in order to increase outreach to “impacted communities.”
This order directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to support these efforts by reserving funds in the budget. The Biden administration has not delivered this year, despite a February deadline.
The order also addresses funding. It states that 50% of federal agency contracting dollars should be allocated to small disadvantaged businesses. The order also contains new instructions for agencies on how to deal with “emerging Civil Rights Risks.”
The White House stated that the Executive Order directs agencies to concentrate their civil rights authorities on emerging threats such as algorithmic discrimination using automated technology; improve accessibility and language access services; and look at opportunities to increase the capacity of their civil right offices. It also directs agencies that they ensure their use of automated systems and artificial intelligence advances equity.