Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., are calling for the Biden administration to work with Federal agencies to ensure they have the necessary workforce data to fulfill President Biden’s day one executive order on “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”

Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Pressley, a member on the committee, sent a letter today to Susan Rice, assistant to the president for domestic policy, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda Young, to make suggestions on how the two could support the EO.

“To ensure the success of the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda, racial equity must be central to decision-making across the Federal government,” the representatives wrote. “This sweeping objective will require the collection of data that aligns with an up-to-date understanding of people’s identities and that reflects how diverse groups are differently situated. Most Federal agencies do not yet collect this type of data.”

Biden’s EO aimed “to remove systemic barriers to and provide equal access to opportunities and benefits, identify communities the Federal government has underserved, and develop policies designed to advance equity for those communities.” The EO tasked OMB with studying methods and barriers to such equal access.

However, the eventual July 2021 report from OMB found many agencies don’t currently have access to the type of data that would allow them to understand the differences in inclusion, services, and benefits among their employees. OMB also found that the agencies that do have that data often lack the structures necessary to use that data for equity purposes.

“Without access to crucial demographic data such as race, ethnicity, disability, and income, agencies cannot properly identify barriers to equity or develop meaningful plans to remove these barriers,” Reps. Maloney and Pressley wrote. “The establishment of the White House Interagency Working Group on Equitable Data is an important first step toward collecting data that can be used to promote equitable policies and programs across the Federal government.”

The congresswomen recognize that getting access to this data is just the first step towards racial equity across the Federal government, and they also recommend “robust stakeholder engagement,” and using various assessment tools to see how the agencies’ policies affect minority and underserved communities.

“Addressing systemic racism across all functions of the Federal government must be an urgent priority. To do so effectively, agencies must first collect the required data, conduct in-depth analyses, and engage with stakeholders. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to advance racial equity throughout the Federal government,” the letter concludes.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.