White House Compiles Federal Equity Action Plans

The White House has published a list of equity action plans that have been developed by various federal agencies in order to comply with President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (E.O. 13985) issued on the first day of his term (see previous coverage for more details). According to the White House announcement, more than 90 federal agencies across the government were consulted to contribute to the equity action plans to address where barriers to accessing federal programs may exist and identify changes to federal policy that could be made. In addition, each of the cabinet level agencies developed snapshots providing an overview of the equity findings within their various smaller agencies. For more information on the Equity Action Plans efforts click here.

Some of the agency efforts related to the research and statistics enterprise are listed below:

National Science Foundation (NSF)

  • The Equity Action Plan for NSF cites the creation of a new program to expand anti-harassment initiatives associated with NSF-funded programs and the updating of the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide to include anti-harassment requirements for travel proposals. It also cites acknowledgements of Native Hawaiians at astronomical research facilities in Hawaii and the designation of Tribal organizations as eligible for submitting proposals for NSF funding.
  • New strategies the plan recommends for NSF include extending harassment prevention policies to include field sites and research vessels, expanding the demographic data collected of NSF grantees, increasing participation in NSF funded programs by historically underrepresented institutions, and investing in civil rights resources at the NSF Office of Equity and Civil Rights.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

  • The Equity Action Plan for HHS cites the establishment of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, the HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, the UNITE Initiative at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Minority Health Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as major pushes to advance health disparities and health equity research throughout the department.
  • Equity advancement strategies for HHS to consider include responding to the maternal mortality crisis among disadvantaged populations, addressing barriers to individuals with limited English proficiency, including equity considerations into Notices of Funding Opportunities, and investing resources into equity assessments and civil rights programs at the HHS Office of Civil Rights.

Department of Commerce

  • The Equity Action Plan for the Department of Commerce cites the Census Bureau’s “Data for Equity” webpage and the development of equity datasets to make data about equity more available from various sources of Census data.
  • The plan recommends that the Commerce Department make its science and data more findable, accessible, and usable for the public, especially among underserved communities.


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