The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is nudging Federal agencies to establish chief diversity officer positions – a key element in the Biden administration’s push to emphasize workforce diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA).

In a Jan. 5 letter to heads of executive departments and agencies, OPM director Kiran Ahuja emphasized that President Biden made DEIA a “clear priority” in executive order (EO) 14035—which establishes DEIA as a Federal government priority.

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Under section four of the EO, agencies are required to “seek opportunities to establish a position of [CDO] or diversity and inclusion officer (DIO), with sufficient seniority to coordinate efforts to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the agency.”

Further, Ahuja wrote that agencies should keep in mind other considerations outlined to improve DEIA opportunities, including aligning expertise and resources to sustain progress over time, and promoting collaboration and coordination.

Lastly, OPM wants to create a forum to engage agency CDOs and/or DIOs to create learning opportunities, and to provide technical assistance to Federal agencies. Ahuja says that OPM will be hosting events for stakeholders, such as DEIA implementation team members, D&I practitioners, and EEO and HR practitioners.

“The Federal government must be a model employer for workforce diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA), to perform optimally and to attract, hire, develop, retain, and promote individuals who possess the skills and commitment to serve our nation,” wrote Ahuja. “Diversity is our greatest strength as a nation, and our greatest asset in the civil service.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.