The Justice Department is improving language access in its programs to help people with limited English proficiency better report crimes. The Department of the Interior is providing technical assistance to Native American tribes to help them apply for grants. The Department of Energy is helping low-income families access programs to deodorize their homes and save energy.
Those efforts are among hundreds of strategies and commitments that the Biden administration released on Thursday. They are the product of an executive order signed hours after President Joe Biden took office with the goal of advancing racial equality in the federal government and supporting underserved communities.
Chirag Bains, Deputy Assistant to the President for Racial Justice and Equality, said it was the first order of its kind by a President.
“We set missions and mandates for every agency, the entire federal government, the center has a stake in what we do,” Bains told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
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After more than a year of review, more than 90 federal agencies, including all major cabinet departments, released their “equity action plan” on Thursday.
The plans outline more than 300 strategies and commitments aimed at making federal policies fair to all, including poor communities and communities of color; Aboriginal, rural and LGBTQ communities; And people with disabilities and women and girls. The White House posted an overview of the plans on its website on Thursday.
These were discussed at a White House event on Thursday by domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, budget director Shalanda Young and cabinet members. Biden, a Democrat, has one of the most diverse cabinets, with major portfolios headed by black and Hispanic people and women, including Defense, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Some equity schemes have been announced, such as working to close the racial gap in homeownership by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, addressing disproportionate rates of homelessness among disadvantaged communities, and reducing bias in home valuations.
Other strategies are being made public for the first time, such as the Defense Department’s efforts to promote the use of artificial intelligence technology to reduce algorithmic bias by investing in the development of a more diverse AI workforce. That work includes partnerships with historically black colleges and universities.
Equity Action teams at each agency led the reviews. Bains said that, together, the strategies will “advance equity and justice so that everyone can thrive in America.”