The Biden Administration this morning will roll out so-called equity action plans for every federal agency, following up on a campaign promise to address structural and policy inequities along racial and gender lines across the government.
The plans, which cover more than 90 federal agencies, contain what the administration says are “300 concrete strategies and commitments to address the systemic barriers in our nation’s policies and programs that hold too many underserved communities back from prosperity, dignity, and equality.”
They come nearly 16 months after Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office committing the federal government to addressing inequality based on policy. White House Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice and Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, along with several Cabinet secretaries, will host a live-streamed symposium on the plans beginning today at 10 a.m.
Some federal agencies, notably the Department of Housing and Urban Development, have already taken some policy steps that align with the executive order. Last month, Rice and HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge announced a plan to tackle racism in the home appraisal industry, which results in lower home appraisals for individuals and a collective loss of billions of dollars in home equity in Black and Latinx communities. The Root reported earlier this week that Adjoa B. Asamoah, a veteran of the Biden campaign who also consulted with members of Congress on the passage of the CROWN Act, was appointed as senior adviser for racial equity to Fudge. She is the only Black woman in the federal government responsible for advising a cabinet secretary on racial equity.
The new package of action plans spell out similar actions across other agencies, including:
The new plans notably left out some topics that both Biden and political activists have said are crucial to racial equity, such as addressing the student loan crisis, which disproportionately impacts Black and Hispanic borrowers and police violence and misconduct.
- The Department of Labor will implement a plan to address wage theft, specifically among women of color, as well as a plan to make accessing federal unemployment benefits more equitable for people of color who have lost work.
- The Environmental Protection Agency will launch a tool to consider how permitting decisions will impact pollution in underserved communities.
- The Department of Defense will commit to eliminating algorithmic biases in artificial intelligence technology. Part of that commitment is to work with historically black colleges and universities to diversify the workforce that develops artificial intelligence.
- The Justice Department will launch a plan to help those with limited English proficiency to better report crimes, access services and understand their rights.
Senior administration officials said this morning that while those issues weren’t specifically pointed to in the equity action plans being released today, they remain an ongoing priority for Biden.
Specifically, they said that Biden was disappointed that Congress hadn’t passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and noted that the Justice Department has adopted some piece of that legislation, such as banning chokeholds, restricting no-knock warrants and requiring body cameras for federal law enforcement officers, as well as restarting investigations into systemic police abuses in local departments.
This story will be updated.