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FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Releases Agency Equity Action Plans to  Advance Equity and Racial Justice Across the Federal Government

On his first day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial  Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. That  historic Executive Order directed the whole of the federal government to advance an ambitious  equity and racial justice agenda. Today, more than 90 federal agencies, including all Cabinet level agencies, are releasing the first-ever Equity Action Plans that lay out more than 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. 

Advancing equity is not a one-year project—it is a generational commitment. These plans are an  important step forward, reflecting the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to make the promise  of America real for every American, including by implementing the first-ever national strategy  on gender equity and equality; working to ensure the federal government is a model for diversity  equity, inclusion and accessibility; working to deliver environmental justice through the  Justice40 Initiative; and working to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender  identity or sexual orientation. 

For more details on the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to advance equity and justice for  underserved communities, visit  

Delivering Greater Equity for the American People 

Across the federal government, agencies are taking ambitious action to expand federal  investment and support in communities that have been locked out of opportunity for too long,  including communities of color, Tribal communities, rural communities, LGBTQI+  communities, people with disabilities, women and girls, and communities impacted by persistent  poverty. New agency commitments include: 

• The Department of Labor is strengthening the enforcement of our nation’s wage and hour  protections to support underserved workers who are the most vulnerable to wage theft and  violations, especially women of color, and is in the process of launching a new initiative to  address barriers that workers of color face in equitably accessing Unemployment Insurance  benefits. 

• The Department of Housing and Urban Development is working to eliminate the racial  gap in homeownership, address the disproportionate rates of homelessness among  underserved communities, and reduce bias in home appraisals through the interagency Task  Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity. 

• The Environmental Protection Agency is developing a comprehensive framework for  evaluating the cumulative impacts of pollution on underserved, low-income communities.  EPA will also reinvigorate civil rights enforcement to ensure that environmental justice is at  the heart of the agency’s mission.


• The Department of Transportation is increasing investments in underserved communities  by launching a national technical assistance center to provide targeted support with planning,  project development, grant applications, and project delivery for communities that face  barriers to accessing transportation resources. 

• The Department of Justice is improving language access to its programs so that Americans  with limited English proficiency can better report crimes, access services, understand their  rights, and otherwise have full and equal access to the Department’s programs and resources. 

• The Department of the Interior is providing technical assistance to Tribes to help them  navigate grant application processes, and partnering with Tribal Colleges and Universities to  build capacity for Tribes to apply for funding.  

• The Department of Commerce is investing nearly $50 billion in broadband infrastructure  deployment, affordability, and digital inclusion efforts to help close the digital divide, particularly for rural and Tribal communities. 

• The Department of Health and Human Services is increasing outreach to communities of  color to encourage enrollment in free and low-cost health care, and is addressing the maternal  mortality crisis that disproportionately impacts Black and Native families, including by  working with states to extend postpartum coverage in Medicaid and the Children’s Health  Insurance Program.  

• The Department of Homeland Security is working to ensure that underserved communities  are treated fairly in airport screenings by improving systems and enhancing training  for officers. DHS is also engaging with and improving underserved communities’ access to  grant programs that help counter domestic violent extremism to better address the terrorism related threat to our country posed by white supremacists and other domestic terrorists.  

• The Department of Defense is advancing the safe and equitable use of Artificial Intelligence  (AI) technology to mitigate algorithmic bias by investing in agency-wide responsible AI  development and investing in the development of a more diverse AI workforce, including  

through partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and  Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). 

• The State Department is increasing engagement with partners from underserved racial and  ethnic communities, applying new equity analyses, and improving demographic data  collection and analysis to better embed equity and gender equality into U.S. foreign policies. 

• The Department of Veterans Affairs is advancing health equity by further addressing the  social and economic determinants of health for underserved veterans, including veterans of  color, women veterans, and LGBTQI+ veterans. The Department is also launching a Data for  Equity strategy, a veteran-centered model that will synchronize data on health care, disability  benefits, and other services to identify and address gaps.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding equitable access to nutrition assistance  programs and strengthening gender equity by implementing a national awareness campaign  and expanding the implementation of online ordering in the Women, Infants, and Children  (WIC) nutrition program.  

• The Department of Education is advancing college access and college completion by  investing in HBCUs, TCCUs, MSIs, community colleges, and other under-resourced public  institutions, and supporting schools to raise college completion rates for underserved  students.  

• The Department of Energy is ensuring equitable access to weatherization assistance  programs so that low-income households have increased access to energy security.  

• The Small Business Administration is investing in improved technology to increase access  to capital for businesses in underserved communities and minority-owned businesses by  streamlining program applications and integrating data. 

• The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is releasing Earth science  data in more accessible formats, and providing free, multi-lingual training on how to use  NASA data to help mitigate environmental challenges in underserved communities. NASA  will also conduct an analysis to identify and address barriers to awards of its grants to  HBCUs and MSIs. 

• The Social Security Administration is identifying inequalities and addressing systemic administrative barriers to participation in key safety net programs, such as disability benefits,  and ensuring equitable service delivery for unrepresented individuals navigating the  disability application appeals process, and increase gender equity in its services.  

• The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is closing the flood insurance gap  to increase the financial resilience of flood-prone, low-income households. FEMA is also  promoting equitable outcomes for disaster survivors by increasing eligibility for and access  to assistance programs for underserved and vulnerable applicants.  

Embedding Equity in the Everyday Business of Government 

In addition to prioritizing greater equity in the services the federal government provides the  American people, Agency Equity Action Plans also contain innovative new strategies to embed  equity, racial justice, and gender equality in day-to-day governing. These approaches include: 

Building accountability for equity through data collection and reporting. Better  demographic data is key to advancing equity, offering insight into whether government  programs, benefits, and services are reaching all communities. Recognizing this, President  Biden established a first-of-its-kind Equitable Data Working Group to facilitate appropriate  expanded collection and use of demographic data toward advancing equity. Cross-agency  practices are being developed to address specific barriers to generating and using equitable  data efficiently and appropriately, including how best to share and acquire disaggregated data

and how to increase community access to data while protecting individual privacy and  promoting public trust in the data. More information on the Working Group’s efforts,  including initial recommendations, will be released in the coming weeks. 

Reducing administrative burdens and simplifying government services. Under newly released guidance from the Office of Management and Budget, agencies are reducing the  complexity of forms and enrollment procedures to address the often-hidden barriers to access  for governmental services, ensuring that information is written clearly, and expanding from  in-person interview requirements to telephone or virtual options.  

Reimagining federal service design and delivery through life experiences. The Biden Harris Administration is building a new approach to delivering government services based on  how people actually live their lives rather than an approach based on bureaucracy. This new approach requires agencies to work within and across government, to better serve Americans  during significant events or transitions that often require interaction with multiple federal  agencies and levels of government, like surviving a disaster.  

Engaging with stakeholders and communities who have been historically excluded. To  ensure government policies are informed by the broadest cross-section of Americans,  agencies are engaging trusted intermediaries and tailoring outreach to make meaningful and  authentic participation possible for a wider range of Americans. 

Narrowing wealth gaps through federal contracting and procurement. As the largest  buyer in the world, the federal government will address racial and gender wealth gaps by  leveraging the power of federal procurement to drive greater investment in minority-owned  and women-owned small businesses.  

Delivering equity through grantmaking. Persistent barriers make it difficult for under resourced and underserved communities to be aware of, compete for, and effectively deploy  federal grants for everything from infrastructure to medical research. Agencies are addressing  these barriers by helping underserved communities learn about and navigate federal funding  opportunities, expanding capacity-building efforts, and embedding a focus on equity into  decision-making about how to award federal grants. 

Advancing equity through American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Implementation. The President has made equity a priority in the implementation of two of  the most ambitious legislative packages in generations, with the goal of ensuring an inclusive  response and recovery from the pandemic and in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.  

Tyler Butler