It is not a surprise that a newly-inaugurated President Biden is issuing Executive Orders to eliminate policies and the philosophy of the Trump administration. The only surprise may be the rapidity with which they are emerging. The choice of topics may also provide guidance on priorities of the Biden administration.
One of the first Executive Orders from President Biden is entitled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government“.
President Trump issued an Executive Order “on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping” on September 22, 2020. It was widely assumed the new administration would issue an EO revoking the one issued by President Trump. That is what happened.
Revoking Order on Anti-American Race and Sex Stereotyping
Section 10 of the new EO states “Executive Order 13950 of September 22, 2020 (Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping), is hereby revoked.” Section 10 also directs “head of each agency shall, within 60 days of the date of this order, consider suspending, revising, or rescinding any such actions, including all agency actions to terminate or restrict contracts or grants pursuant to Executive Order 13950….”
The stated purpose of the Trump EO was “to promote economy and efficiency in Federal contracting, to promote unity in the Federal workforce, and to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping….”
The purpose of the Biden EO is to have “each agency…assess whether, and to what extent, its programs and policies perpetuate systemic barriers to opportunities and benefits for people of color and other underserved groups.”
Revoking the Trump EO is in section 10 of the latest Executive Order which has 11 sections. Presumably, the intent is to revoke the earlier EO but to minimize its importance and, instead, to direct agencies on ways to address “systemic racism”.
Singling Out “Underserved Communities”
The EO singles out the following groups denied “equity” as defined in the EO:
- Indigenous and Native American persons
- Asian Americans
- Pacific Islanders
- Other persons of color
- Religious minorities
- Queer (LGBTQ+) persons
- Persons with disabilities
- Persons living in rural areas
- Persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.
The Order states, “A first step to promoting equity in Government action is to gather the data necessary to inform that effort.” It directs agencies to assess equity, set up groups to assess equity and create data subsets (disaggregated data) to categorize people.
It assumes there is not enough data to meet the goals of the administration and wants to identify the American public by their inclusion into a variety of groups. Therefore, the EO wants the federal government to measure equity and sorting people into groups by collecting data on:
- veteran status
- other key demographic variables.
The Order establishes an Interagency Working Group on Equitable Data to work on creating these datasets.
The Order also notes the director of the Office of Management and Budget has six months to submit a report on how to expand the methods outlined in the Order and whether to set up pilot programs to test assessment tools.