Why Biden’s Internal Federal Workforce and External Equity Initiatives Go Together

For the Biden administration, the drive to improve diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce and simultaneously embed principles of equity in external government services provided to the public are one and the same. thing.

One initiative can’t be successful without the other, and agencies won’t improve customer service without focusing on both, administration officials said.

“Focusing on the workforce – making sure we’re hiring people from across the country, from all walks of life – is a real and crucial step in designing a great customer experience,” Clare said Wednesday. Martorana, Director of Federal Information. a virtual CX summit produced by ACT-IAC.

That’s why the Biden administration sees an executive order on promoting racial equity in underserved communities through government, which the president signed on the first day of his term in office, and a separate EO on the improving diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the federal workforce as policies that go hand in hand.

“Having multiple executive orders is extremely helpful,” Kimberlyn Leary, OMB senior member and Urban Institute senior vice president, said at the ACT-IAC CX summit on Tuesday. “It reminds us that when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, it’s not just one category. It really involves multiple dimensions of government service.

Leary and Dalal are both assigned to OMB through the Intergovernmental Staff Act, where they help agencies implement the Fairness Decree.

The OE tasked agencies to assess the state of equity within their organizations, operations and external public services.

Agencies have until January 2022 to detail their plans to improve the equity of the services they provide to the public, especially high-impact ones.

Leary said these activities will help agencies develop the tools needed to fight the second executive decree, which the president signed in June. This EO, likewise, calls on agencies to assess the state of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility within their own workforce.

“If you start thinking about fairness in a service delivery context and then another EA comes along and asks you to think about hiring and retention, you already have the skills, framework and language that will increase this other workflow, now on the workforce, that you have been asked to support, ”said Leary. Likewise, the work that has been done on the workforce and the overhaul of hiring and retention and other types of internal processes can only help improve our perception of service, which counts as a stakeholder and whose voice is included in the conversation. “

So far, several lessons have become very clear as agencies assess and plan the equity EA. Dalal said many agencies need to consider new ways to engage externally with the public – and better reach stakeholders whose voices are often overlooked.

The OMB issued a Request for Information earlier this year, which asked the public for recommendations on how agencies could advance equity in procurement and contracting, grantmaking, and their interactions with communities and other stakeholders.

The RFI generated more than 500 responses, said Dalal.

“We found that the focus was on driving meaningful and long-term community engagement, which means actions such as ensuring that community members – especially those who have lived experiences – are involved in the process from the early stages of discussion and program design and have a seat and voice in every decision-making process, ”she said. “Agencies should also consider establishing advisory boards, commissions and working groups that include community members with lived experience and also compensate them for their time and expertise.”

Agencies also need better ways to collect data on who uses their services, as well as additional channels for the public to submit their comments, challenges that the OMB detailed last month in a report outlining how they work. fairness assessment.

It’s a big job for many agencies, one that will require volunteer leaders to prioritize and apply an equity lens to every decision they make, Dalal said.

“It’s a long and iterative journey. Failures will happen. Snapbacks will happen, and it’s important not to be put off by that and just know that it won’t change overnight, ”she said. “Equity is everyone’s business too. Every person in this room, I can assure you, has something they can do in their role to advance equity. It’s not just about HR, and it’s not just about the Director of Diversity, which is a very common misconception when it comes to advancing equity and inclusion. “

The administration integrates these principles of fairness in its work on the customer experience, and the CX measures are part of the performance standards for agency and executive officers, priorities that the OMB has detailed in update A -11 of last month.

The administration also selected eight new high-impact service providers, including the Census Bureau and the Food and Nutrition and Rural Development Service of the Department of Agriculture, as well as several other sub-components of the Department of Agriculture. Treasury Department.

A total of 33 agencies and sub-components are now considered “high impact service providers”.

“We are delighted to work with each HISP when they designate and work to define priority services, a delivery unit, as opposed to an organizational unit, a program funding line or a budget account, which actually means something to a customer because it fills a need, ”said Amira Boland, Customer Experience Manager at OMB. “These services should have defined measures of performance, fairness and burden, and feedback should be gathered in the context of that service in order to find the most meaningful improvement opportunities. “

While the administration works with individual organizations to improve their own programs, the OMB is also partnering with the president’s Management Board to select additional interagency government services that are ready for improvement, Boland said.

Shirlene J. Manley