Biden Administration Announces Steps To Boost Equity In Government

Dozens of federal agencies launched action plans last week that focus on minority groups and other underserved communities, meant to increase equity in government by opening federal programs to more people and reduce racial disparities caused by government decisions.

The plans come in response to an executive order President Joe Biden issued on his first day in office, to get federal agencies to reassess how their programs may contribute to inequities.

“Advancing equity is not a one year project. It’s a generational commitment,” Biden said Thursday in rolling out the plans. “These plans are an important step forward, reflecting the Biden Harris administration’s work to make the promise of America real for every American and I mean every American.”

About 90 federal agencies released an “Equity Action Plan,” senior administration officials told reporters, including major cabinet agencies like the Department of Justice, Department of Commerce and Department of Defense. Across agencies, the plans included steps like increased coordination with tribal governments, broadening procurement for minority-owned small businesses and increasing civil rights enforcement.

Susan Rice, the head of the Domestic Policy Council who has led efforts in this area, said at a White House event Thursday that “equity goes to the heart of our success as a nation.”

“When the typical black family has just one-eighth the wealth of the typical white family, that corrodes our broader economy,” Rice said. “When at least 35 percent of Americans in rural and tribal communities lack adequate high speed internet that restricts growth and competitiveness well beyond rural America, we must reject a zero-sum mentality and recognize the reality backed up by economic research, that a rising tide really does lift all boats.”

“Advancing equity is not a one-year project – it is a generational commitment that will require sustained leadership and partnership with all communities,” the White House said in a statement.

“These plans are an important step forward, reflecting the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to make the promise of America real for every American, including communities of color, Tribal communities, rural communities, LGBTQI+ communities, people with disabilities, women and girls, and communities impacted by persistent poverty.”

“They are part of a broader equity agenda, which also includes implementing the first-ever national strategy on gender equity and equality; working to ensure the federal government is a model for diversity equity, inclusion and accessibility in the workforce; delivering environmental justice through the Justice40 Initiative; and advancing LGBTQI+ civil rights. They also reflect attention to the reality that some individuals experience discrimination based on multiple factors and are particularly underserved.”

 

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