US

Biden administration unveils measures to strengthen fairness in government

The Department of Justice is improving language access to its programs to help people with limited English proficiency report crimes better. The Department of the Interior provides technical assistance to Native American tribes to help them apply for grants. The Department of Energy helps low-income households access programs to cool their homes and save energy.

These efforts are among hundreds of strategies and commitments the Biden administration announced Thursday. They are the product of an executive order that President Biden signed a few hours after taking office with the goal of advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities within the federal government.

The order was the first of its kind by a president, said Chiraag Bains, deputy assistant to the president for racial justice and equity.

“We have defined the mission and mandate of every agency, across the federal government, to center equity in everything we do,” Bains told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

After more than a year of review, more than 90 federal agencies, including all major Cabinet departments, released their “fairness action plans” on Thursday.

The plans outline more than 300 strategies and commitments that aim to make federal policies fairer for everyone, including the poorest communities and communities of color; tribal, rural and LGBTQ communities; and persons with disabilities and women and girls.

They were to be discussed at a White House event hosted Thursday by domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, budget director Shalanda Young and cabinet members. Biden, a Democrat, has one of The most diverse cabinetswith blacks and Hispanics heading major departments including Defense, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Some of the equity plans were announced, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s work to close the racial gap in home ownership, address disproportionate rates of homelessness among underserved communities and reduce bias in housing valuations.

Other strategies are being made public for the first time, such as the Department of Defense’s efforts to promote the use of artificial intelligence technology to reduce algorithmic bias by investing in the development of a hand- more diverse AI workforce. This work includes partnerships with historically black colleges and universities.

Each agency’s equity action teams conducted the reviews. Bains said that, taken together, the strategies “will advance fairness and justice so that everyone can prosper in America.”

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