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President Biden Revokes Executive Order 13950

Declaring that “[e]qual opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy, and our diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths,” President Biden has announced that his administration will “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”

To that end, he revoked Executive Order 13950, the controversial Trump administration order oft-criticized for subverting federal contractor, subcontractor, and grant recipient efforts to promote equity and inclusion. See our Alerts discussing the Order, below. Also, he directed agency heads to review and identify proposed and existing agency actions stemming from Executive Order 13950 and, within 60 days, “consider suspending, revising, or rescinding any such actions, including all agency actions to terminate or restrict contracts or grants pursuant to Executive Order 13950.”

Biden also ordered several additional steps to advance his administration’s policy. Among other things, under his directive:

  • The White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC) must coordinate the administration’s efforts to embed equity principles, policies, and approaches across the federal government. 
  • The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in partnership with federal agencies, must study methods for assessing whether agency policies and actions create or exacerbate barriers to full and equal participation by all eligible individuals. 
  • Federal agencies, in consultation with the OMB Director, must select certain agency programs and policies for a review “that will assess whether underserved communities and their members face systemic barriers in accessing benefits and opportunities available pursuant to those policies and programs.” 
  • Agencies must (1) consult with members of communities that have been historically underrepresented in the federal government and underserved by, or subject to discrimination in, federal policies and programs; and (2) evaluate opportunities, consistent with applicable law, to increase coordination, communication, and engagement with community-based organizations and civil rights organizations.
  • The OMB Director must identify opportunities to promote equity in the President’s annual budgets and, in coordination with agency heads, study strategies, consistent with applicable law, for allocating federal resources to increase investment in underserved communities, as well as individuals from those communities. 

Clearly, Biden has pivoted sharply from his predecessor’s approach to equity and inclusion issues. That pivot likely will spawn several consequential regulatory and other legal changes for employers, which we will monitor and report on as they unfold.

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