OMB announces the completion of "Study to Identify Methods to Assess Equity: Report to the President," as required by section 4 of Executive Order 13985, On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.
Acting OMB Director Shalanda Young, "Meeting a Milestone of President Biden’s Whole-of-Government Equity Agenda," blog, August 6, 2021 https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/briefing-room/2021/08/06/meeting-a-milestone-of-president-bidens-whole-of-government-equity-agenda/
OMB, "Study to Identify Methods to Assess Equity: Report to the President," July 2021 https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/OMB-Report-on-E013985-Implementation_508-Compliant-Secure-v1.1.pdf
Executive Order 13985, On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, January 20, 2021 https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/20/executive-order-advancing-racial-equity-and-support-for-underserved-communities-through-the-federal-government/
E.O 13985, Sec. 4. Identifying Methods to Assess Equity.
(a) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) shall, in partnership with the heads of agencies, study methods for assessing whether agency policies and actions create or exacerbate barriers to full and equal participation by all eligible individuals. The study should aim to identify the best methods, consistent with applicable law, to assist agencies in assessing equity with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, income, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability.
(b) As part of this study, the Director of OMB shall consider whether to recommend that agencies employ pilot programs to test model assessment tools and assist agencies in doing so.
(c) Within 6 months of the date of this order, the Director of OMB shall deliver a report to the President describing the best practices identified by the study and, as appropriate, recommending approaches to expand use of those methods across the Federal Government.
The report's cover letter indicates:
While there are individual programs that provide a foundation for this work, the Federal Government has never before undertaken a whole-of-Government equity agenda, positioned equity so comprehensively in Administration policy, or committed itself to achieve outcomes that reflect equitable processes. The ultimate goal of your equity agenda is to advance equity and support for underserved communities across the whole of Government and its functions.
Equally important is that no single Executive Order can immediately redress marginalization and disenfranchise-ment of the historically underserved due to lost opportunity. However, we must face our work with sustained humility and ongoing learning from scientific data and analytic tools to ask more sophisticated questions about inclusion, belonging, and possibility. Systemic bias, including across the Federal Government, can flourish in practices that appear to be neutral on the surface. We may not notice assumptions in organizational practices that in subtle ways limit possibilities for others. Policies targeted at the poor, for example, may be weighted by higher levels of administrative burden (e.g., complex, opaque, rigid, or repetitive requirements) than services more likely to receive universal use.
Progress towards equity requires both a sprint and a marathon. Agencies mobilized swiftly to meet key milestones in your Executive Order. The equity assessments charged to agencies in the Order required immediate action. The assessments are likely to shine a spotlight on barriers, gaps, and obstructions that routinely affect some, but not all individuals, including communities of color, LBGTQ+ populations, and those living with one or more disabilities. As this study recommends, embedding equity in agency priority goals, learning agendas, financial management, procurement, and strategic planning can prepare agencies for the marathon ahead. Advancing equity further requires long-term change management. It is a difficult realization that Federal agencies have not fully delivered value to all of their constituents. It is disheartening when a data scan reveals results that are at odds with organizational intentions and core national values. And yet, it is only through this ethic of learning and a commit-ment to evidence that governments become truly able to serve their people.