E.O. 13985 directed all federal agencies to evaluate and identify gaps in advancing equity with underserved communities, including racial and ethnic equity, in their policies, programs, and partners. In response, the Agency Equity Team conducted an external equity assessment to identify gaps in advancing equity in USAID’s policies and work. USAID used the assessment findings to develop the Agency’s first Equity Action Plan. The Equity Action Plan serves as a starting point for longer term equity planning and contains five key recommendations.

  1. Continued development of the WorkwithUSAID platform;
  2. Enhanced implementation of USAID’s nondiscrimination for beneficiaries policy, development and implementation of an Independent Accountability Mechanism, and advancement of Title VI protections at USAID;
  3. Reduced internal and external barriers for USAID awards, to include reduction of administrative burdens that negatively affect partner capacity;
  4. Designate an Inclusive Development (ID) Advisor at each Mission and procure inclusive development support mechanisms managed through the Agency’s ID Hub; and
  5. Implement a consistent approach to incorporate racial and ethnic equity and diversity into policy, planning, and learning.

Over the next 45 to 60 days, USAID will host stakeholder engagement sessions related to the equity action plan. More information is forthcoming.

Executive Order 13985

Executive Order 13985, titled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved communities through the Federal Government,” was the first Executive Order President Biden signed on January 20, 2021. The Order outlined a whole-of-government mandate to advance equity for all Americans through a comprehensive approach to all government practices.

Executive Order 13985 assists USAID in advancing a values-based approach, updating rules and regulations, expanding our partner base, and becoming more consultative to achieve the President’s goals regarding racial and ethnic equity in a foreign assistance context. The Order further helps reframe the ways in which USAID partners democratize the development process by integrating equity into Agency policies, strategies, and practices; enhance the ability of potential nontraditional partners to pursue USAID opportunities; prevent discrimination in Agency programs; and strengthen the Agency’s capacity to advance inclusive development in our overseas programming.

Agency Equity Team

In response to E.O. 13985, USAID formed an Agency Equity Team (AET) with the purpose of facilitating, informing, and advancing Agency progress on equity assessments, action planning, and other Agency actions. The AET includes senior leaders, managers, and employees from across USAID. The Team will support the implementation of various DEIA Strategy activities, as well as Executive Orders and Presidential Memorandum related to DEIA.

Over the course of 2021, the AET met regularly on the implementation of E.O. 13985 and conducted stakeholder consultations with members of communities who have been historically underrepresented in the Federal Government and underserved by or subject to discrimination in federal policies and programs. In February 2022, after a year-long process of stakeholder engagement, desk review, and analysis, the AET developed USAID’s first Equity Action Plan, prioritizing five recommendations from the 61 recommendations of the Agency’s External Equity Assessment.

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