Despite the meaningful progress that the Biden-Harris Administration has made, the reality is that underserved communities, many of whom have endured generations of discrimination and disinvestment, still confront unacceptable barriers to equal opportunity and the American Dream. It is imperative that we reject the narrow, cramped view of American opportunity as a zero-sum game. When any segment of society is denied the full promise of America, our entire Nation is held back. But when we lift each other up, we are all lifted up. As the President has said: “Advancing equity is not a one-year project. It’s a generational commitment.”
To strengthen the federal government’s ability to address the barriers that underserved communities continue to face, today, President Biden signed a new Executive Order, Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. This second Order reaffirms the Administration’s commitment to deliver equity and build an America in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.
The Executive Order:
Launches a new annual process to strengthen racial equity and support for underserved communities. Building on the initial Equity Action Plans developed under Executive Order 13985, this Executive Order directs agencies to produce an annual public Equity Action Plan that will assess and include actions to address the barriers underserved communities may face in accessing and benefitting from the agency’s policies, programs, and activities.
Empowers Federal equity leaders. The Executive Order strengthens requirements for agencies to build and resource Agency Equity Teams and designate senior leaders accountable for implementing the President’s equity mandate. In line with the President’s commitment to advancing gender equity and equality at home and abroad and the President’s commitment to advancing environmental justice, equality for LGBTQI+ individuals, and other equity work streams, this Executive Order fosters greater collaboration and accountability, and streamlines agencies’ reporting of progress and planning in order to advance equity in support of all those who face overlapping discrimination and bias.
Strengthens community partnerships and engagement. Too often, underserved communities face significant hurdles and a legacy of exclusion in engaging with federal agencies and providing input on the very federal policies and programs that impact them. The Executive Order requires agencies to improve the quality, frequency, and accessibility of their community engagement, and to consult with impacted communities as each agency develops its Equity Action Plan, funding opportunities, budget proposals, and regulations.
Invests in underserved communities. The Executive Order directs the Office of Management and Budget to support implementation of the annual agency Equity Action Plans through the President’s budget request to Congress. The Executive Order also formalizes the President’s goal of increasing the share of federal contracting dollars awarded to small disadvantaged business (SDBs) by 50 percent by 2025, and instructs agencies to expand procurement opportunities for small disadvantaged businesses through grants from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and other investments and programs that flow through states and local entities.
Improves economic opportunity in rural and urban communities. The Executive Order directs agencies to spur economic growth in rural areas and advance more equitable urban development by ensuring that federal resources contribute to building wealth and opportunity in these communities through locally-led development.
Addresses emerging civil rights risks. The Executive Order instructs agencies to focus their civil rights authorities and offices on emerging threats, such as algorithmic discrimination in automated technology; improve accessibility for people with disabilities; improve language access services; and consider opportunities to bolster the capacity of their civil rights offices. It further directs agencies to ensure that their own use of artificial intelligence and automated systems also advances equity.
Promotes data equity and transparency. The Interagency Working Group on Equitable Data created by the day one Executive Order has been institutionalized at the National Science and Technology Council. This Executive Order directs the body to facilitate better collection, analysis, and use of demographic data to advance equity, and to regularly report on progress to the White House and the American public.