The Biden administration, in its effort to make the federal government a model employer for the rest of the country, seeks to better understand the workplace experiences of federal employees.
To achieve this goal, the administration on Tuesday released the first whole-of-government strategy on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in a decade.
The administration, as part of the strategy, will elevate the role of diversity managers within each agency, who in turn will help lead the dedicated agency’s DEIA implementation teams and perform updates. quarterly to track progress towards achieving government-wide goals.
To better understand the challenges faced by federal employees and those looking to join the federal workforce, each agency implementation team will release their own DEIA strategic plans by March 23.
“Even with decades of progress in building a federal workforce that taps into all the nation’s diversity, many underserved communities remain under-represented in the federal workforce, particularly in the nation’s workforce. management positions, ”indicates the strategy.
DEIA’s government-wide strategy builds on the momentum of an executive order President Joe Biden signed in June to promote those same principles throughout the federal workforce.
The decree asked agencies to identify barriers that prevent the recruitment, hiring, retention and promotion of individuals from underserved populations. He also asked agencies to report any barriers these same people might face in terms of professional development, pay and compensation, or training and reasonable accommodation.
The strategy is the most recent government approach to diversity and inclusion since the Obama administration. launched its vision to achieve these goals ten years ago.
The strategy calls on agencies to use tools developed under the Federal Data Strategy and Evidence Law, which have mandated each agency’s data and assessment officers, to implement a “DEIA data-driven approach”.
As part of this data work, the administration is asking agencies to conduct an analysis of workforce demographics and evidence gathered from all stages of the hiring process, including recruiting, l advancement and retention.
The Office of Personnel Management, meanwhile, helps agencies understand their own DEIA workforce data, a process some have found difficult.
Some agencies ask their employees or job applicants to identify themselves on certain demographic details, but the federal government as a whole lacks a systematic way to collect this data accurately.
The administration, on the other hand, associates the progress made in improving diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce as having a direct impact on its related priority of promoting equity in the workplace. public government services.
Shalanda Young, Acting Director of OMB, in a blog post this summer, said the federal government, as the nation’s largest employer and purchaser of assets, needs better data to understand its blind spots and to enable the federal workforce “to be agents of change for equity ”.
Young was actually nominated to be the first black woman to lead the OMB today, the Biden administration announced.
The strategy calls on agencies to include DEIA implementation teams in drafting planning documents such as their annual budget requests, strategic plans, and upcoming learning programs.
“Ensuring the implementation and evaluation of DEIA is the responsibility of all staff, not the work of an individual or an office,” the strategy states.
To this end, the administration’s strategy directs agencies to involve their CIOs and purchasing managers with the work of DEIA implementation teams.
The strategy also reflects the administration’s vision for its president’s management program.
The PMA’s vision outlines strengthening and empowering the federal workforce as one of the top three priorities, along with improving the equity of delivery of government customer experiences and empowerment. government services to “build back better”.
Administration officials said the values of fairness, dignity, accountability and results will underline all of the PMA’s priorities.
The strategy sets goals for the federal government to be a model workplace for LGBTQI + employees and workers with disabilities. It is also looking to expand federal hiring options for those formerly incarcerated.
The OPM, to this end, recently published a notice in the Federal Register that would allow same-sex spouses of deceased federal employees to apply for survivor benefits.
As for those formerly incarcerated looking for federal employees, the OPM finalized a rule in 2016 this would delay, with certain limitations and exceptions, criminal background checks of potential federal employees until an agency has issued a conditional job offer to a candidate. The Obama administration has said that changing the “ban the box” rule would prevent candidates from being screened out before they have had a chance to demonstrate their qualifications.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee brought forward the Fair Chances Act in 2019, which would codify the “ban the box” regulation into law. The bill, however, never received a vote in the House or Senate.
The administration as part of this strategy will also create a framework to address workplace harassment and sexual harassment in the federal workforce. The agency’s strategic plans will include comprehensive reviews of agency policies and processes for responding to harassment and supporting federal employees who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or criminal harassment.
As part of these reviews, the strategy asks agencies to update their policies and training within 120 days of submitting their DEIA plans.
In order for the federal government to become a model employer for all demographics, the strategy outlines a series of roadmaps for agencies to follow:
- Diversity goals include creating multi-year hiring plans for agency hiring needs and developing a diverse pool of candidates based on those needs.
- Equity objectives include performing pay equity audits to ensure that employees are doing their jobs fairly.
- Inclusion goals include providing reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities and accessibility to the “central design element” of federal buildings and websites.
As part of its accessibility goals, the OMB is working with the General Services Administration, the US Access Board, and the Chief Information Officer Council to review and update existing accessibility guidelines and help agencies “build and maintain an accessible technological environment ”.
This interagency work would include ensuring that all technologies, whether developed internally or externally, comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act before they are used by federal employees.