Methods and Leading Practices for Advancing Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through Government, 24029-24032 [2021-09109]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 85 / Wednesday, May 5, 2021 / Notices information collection, unless the OMB approves it and displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. In addition, notwithstanding any other provisions of law, no person shall generally be subject to penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information that does not display a valid OMB Control Number. See 5 CFR 1320.5(a) and 1320.6. DOL seeks PRA authorization for this information collection for three (3) years. OMB authorization for an ICR cannot be for more than three (3) years without renewal. The DOL notes that information collection requirements submitted to the OMB for existing ICRs receive a month-to-month extension while they undergo review. Agency: DOL–ETA. Title of Collection: DOL-Only Performance Accountability, Information, and Reporting System. OMB Control Number: 1205–0521. Affected Public: Individuals or Households; State, Local, and Tribal Governments; Private Sector— Businesses or other for-profits and notfor-profit institutions. Total Estimated Number of Respondents: 17,583,750. Total Estimated Number of Responses: 41,064,037. Total Estimated Annual Time Burden: 10,459,627 hours. Total Estimated Annual Other Costs Burden: $9,491,287. Authority: 44 U.S.C. 3507(a)(1)(D). Dated: April 28, 2021. Mara Blumenthal, Senior PRA Analyst. [FR Doc. 2021–09471 Filed 5–4–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510–FM–P OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET Methods and Leading Practices for Advancing Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through Government Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President. ACTION: Request for Information (RFI). AGENCY: Recent Executive Orders have charged the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in partnership with the heads of agencies, to identify, by July 2021, effective methods for assessing whether agency policies and actions (e.g., programs, services, processes, and operations) equitably serve all eligible individuals and communities, particularly those that are currently and historically underserved. As part of this SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 23:06 May 04, 2021 Jkt 253001 effort, agencies are directed to 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 to evaluate opportunities, as allowable, to increase coordination, communication, and engagement with community-based and civil rights organizations. Through this request for information (RFI), OMB seeks input, information, and recommendations from a broad array of stakeholders in the public, private, advocacy, not-for-profit, and philanthropic sectors, including State, local, Tribal, and territorial areas, on available methods, approaches, and tools that could assist in this effort. OMB will consider the usability, applicability, and rigor of submissions in response to this RFI as OMB gathers resources to support agencies as they conduct internal assessments on the state of equity in their policies, programs, services, processes, and operations. OMB will also use what it learns from responses to this RFI as OMB works to expand use of equityassessment methods and approaches across the Federal Government, as agencies develop agency Equity Action Plans (due to the Domestic Policy Council by January 19, 2022) outlining steps they will take to address identified gaps in equity. DATES: Responses to this RFI should be received by July 6, 2021. ADDRESSES: You should submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. All public comments received are subject to the Freedom of Information Act and will be posted in their entirety at https:// www.regulations.gov/, including any personal and/or business confidential information provided. Do not include any information you would not like to be made publicly available. Written responses should not exceed 20 pages, inclusive of a 1-page cover page as described below. Attachments or linked resources or documents are not included in the 20-page limit. Please respond concisely, in plain language, and in narrative format. You may respond to some or all of the questions listed in the RFI. Please ensure it is clear which question you are responding to. You may also include links to online material or interactive presentations but please ensure all links are publicly available. Each response should include: • The name of the individual(s) and/ or organization responding. PO 00000 Frm 00116 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 24029 • The Area section(s) (1, 2, 3, 4 and/ or 5) that your submission and materials support. • A brief description of the responding individual(s) or organization’s mission and/or areas of expertise, including any public-private partnerships with Federal, State, tribal, territorial, or local governments within the past three years that are relevant to this RFI. • A contact for questions or other follow-up on your response. By responding to the RFI, each participant (individual, team, or legal entity) warrants that they are the sole author or owner of, or has the right to use, any copyrightable works that the Submission comprises, that the works are wholly original (or is an improved version of an existing work that the participant has sufficient rights to use and improve), and that the Submission does not infringe any copyright or any other rights of any third party of which participant is aware. By responding to the RFI, each participant (individual, team, or legal entity) consents to the contents of their submission being made available to all Federal agencies and their employees on an internal-to-government website accessible only to agency staffpersons. Participants will not be required to transfer their intellectual property rights to OMB, but Participants must grant to the Federal government a nonexclusive license to apply, share, and use the materials that are included in the Submission. To participate in the RFI, each participant must warrant that there are no legal obstacles to providing the above-referenced nonexclusive licenses of participant rights to the Federal government. Interested parties who respond to this RFI may be contacted for a follow-on strategic agency assessment dialogue, discussion, event, crowdsource campaign, or competition. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Issues regarding submission or questions on this RFI can be sent to Amira Boland at 202–395–5222 or to equityRFI@omb.eop.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background E.O. 13985 states: ‘‘Equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy, and our diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths. But for too many, the American Dream remains out of reach. Entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies, and in our public and private institutions, have often denied that equal opportunity to individuals and communities. Our country faces E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM 05MYN1 24030 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 85 / Wednesday, May 5, 2021 / Notices converging economic, health, and climate crises that have exposed and exacerbated inequities, while a historic movement for justice has highlighted the unbearable human costs of systemic racism. Our Nation deserves an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face. It is therefore the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should 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. Affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our Government. Because advancing equity requires a systematic approach to embedding fairness in decision-making processes, executive departments and agencies (agencies) must recognize and work to redress inequities in their policies and programs that serve as barriers to equal opportunity.’’ Within 200 days of the date of the E.O. (by August 8, 2021), agencies must submit to the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy an assessment of the state of equity for underserved communities and individuals, including on the following points, for example: • Barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face to enrollment in and access to benefits and services in Federal programs; • Barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face in participation in agency procurement and contracting opportunities; • Barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face in participation in agency grant programs and other forms of financial assistance; • Opportunities in current agency policies, regulations, and guidance to address affirmatively and equitably the underlying causes of systemic inequities in society; • Opportunities in agency community engagement processes to engage with and empower marginalized, vulnerable, or underserved communities more directly to advance equitable policymaking; and • The operational status and level of institutional resources available to agency offices or divisions responsible for advancing civil rights or required to serve underrepresented or disadvantaged communities. Within one year of the date of E.O. 13985 (by January 19, 2022), the head of VerDate Sep<11>2014 23:06 May 04, 2021 Jkt 253001 each agency will develop a plan for addressing any barriers to full and equal participation in programs and procurement opportunities identified in its assessment. Such a plan could include establishing ongoing routines to assess and rectify gaps in full and equal participation in programs and procurement opportunities. E.O. 13985 uses the following definitions, which OMB adopts for purposes of this RFI. The term ‘‘equity’’ means the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as women and girls; Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; persons facing discrimination or barriers on account of gender identity; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality. The term ‘‘underserved communities’’ refers to populations sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life, as exemplified by the list in the preceding definition of ‘‘equity.’’ Information and Key Questions OMB seeks input in the following areas: 1. Equity Assessments and Strategies. Approaches and methods for holistic and program- or policy-specific assessments of equity for public sector entities, including but not limited to the development of public policy strategies that advance equity and the use of data to inform equitable public policy strategies. 2. Barrier and Burden Reduction. Approaches and methods for assessing and remedying barriers, burden, and inequities in public service delivery and access. 3. Procurement and Contracting. Approaches and methods for assessing equity in agency procurement and contracting processes. 4. Financial Assistance. Approaches and methods for assessing equity in the administration of agency grant programs and other forms of financial assistance. 5. Stakeholder and Community Engagement. Approaches and methods for accessible and meaningful agency PO 00000 Frm 00117 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 engagement with underserved communities. The descriptions below represent a non-exhaustive accounting of issues that may fall under each topic area. These may assist in the formulation of comments. The list is not intended to restrict submissions. For all prompts, OMB requests that commenters incorporate examples, data, and, in particular, research or academic literature whenever possible. For Area 1 on equity assessments and strategies: The work of advancing equity requires a holistic assessment of agency practices and policies. Some Federal agencies will need to implement new approaches to assess whether future proposed policies, budgets, regulations, grants, or programs will be effective in advancing equity. OMB welcomes submissions that provide resources, tools, and examples of how agencies might conduct effective equity assessments, with the goal of embedding equity throughout agency practices and policies. Submissions might consider questions such as: • What are some promising methods and strategies for assessing equity in internal agency practices and policies? What knowledge, skills, or supports do practitioners need to use such tools effectively? • What are some promising methods and strategies for identifying systemic inequities to be addressed by agency policy? • Jurisdictions at the State, local, Tribal, and territorial level have implemented equity assessment tools to inform their policymaking, budgetary, or regulatory processes. What are the lessons these jurisdictions have learned from implementing or interacting with those tools? • What are some promising methods and strategies for advancing equity on urgent or immediate agency priorities? • What types of equity assessment tools are especially useful for agencies with national security, foreign policy or law enforcement missions? • How might agencies collect data and build evidence in appropriate and protected ways to reflect underserved individuals and communities and support greater attention to equity in future policymaking? • How might agencies build capacity and provide training and support for teams conducting this work? • How can community engagement or feedback from underserved individuals with lived expertise on a given policy problem be integrated meaningfully in an agency’s use of equity assessment methods? E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM 05MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 85 / Wednesday, May 5, 2021 / Notices For Area 2 on barrier and burden reduction: Members of underserved communities may experience a variety of external factors that may disproportionately affect their access to information about programs or program eligibility, applying for benefits, conducting postaward reporting, and recertification of eligibility. These barriers may include, but are not limited to: Non-traditional or inflexible work hours, childcare needs, housing insecurity, limited transportation access, limited proficiency in English, disability, low literacy, income or other resource constraints, stigma in accessing public programs, and limited access to technology. Other barriers are internal to the administration of programs. While certain program rules may ensure that benefits are awarded to eligible individuals or are otherwise required by law, others are not necessary for ensuring benefits are awarded to eligible individuals and may be remedied via administrative or regulatory changes. The latter category of program rules may include: Unnecessary questions or requirements to produce documentation; complex eligibility formulas; forms or web applications that are confusingly designed; complicated instructions; long delays between application and adjudication; the need for third-party (e.g., advocacy organization, legal counsel) support or consultation; frequent recertification of eligibility; processes that require multiple forms or touch-points; and duplicative or similar information collections by multiple agencies. Responses should include, but not be limited to, information on any or all of the following points: • How can agencies address known burdens or barriers to accessing benefits programs in their assessments of benefits delivery? • What data, tools, or evidence are available to show how particular underserved communities or populations disproportionately encounter these barriers? Which underserved communities experience multiple, cumulative barriers and are disproportionately burdened by specific administrative processes or requirements? • Are there specific requirements or processes (e.g., in-person visits, frequency of recertification of eligibility) that have been shown in rigorous research to cause program drop-off or churn by underserved individuals and communities? Similarly, is there rigorous evidence available that certain VerDate Sep<11>2014 23:06 May 04, 2021 Jkt 253001 requirements or processes have little actual effect on program integrity? • How could agencies incorporate considerations of the psychological costs of qualifying or applying for Federal benefits programs into their assessments of equitable service delivery? • What kinds of equity assessment tools are more useful for addressing urgent agency priorities versus making systemic change? • What types of overarching metrics (e.g., program uptake, over- or underpayments) might an agency use to measure a benefit program’s outcomes [or whether it is implemented as intended?]? • How might an agency assess or balance prioritization of potentially competing values associated with program administration, such as program uptake, program integrity, privacy protection, and resource constraints, in the context of addressing equity for underserved individuals and communities? • How might agencies assess if specific barriers (e.g., specific questions on forms or requirements such as inperson interviews) are achieving their intended purpose? • How might agencies incorporate into their equity assessments barriers or duplicative burdens a participant is likely to experience when seeking services from multiple agencies? • How can agencies best balance collecting demographic information about program applicants and participants with the potential effect on program participation that these questions may cause? What does rigorous research show about the effect of demographic questions on program participation? For Area 3, on procurement and contracting: The Federal Government is the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services, with acquisitions totaling over $650 billion per year. As the Federal Government’s purchasing power is used to fight COVID–19, increase domestic productivity, combat climate change, and address other Administration priorities, agencies will need to assess opportunities to invest in underserved individuals and communities by promoting business diversity (including, but not limited to, professional services, financial services, and technology) and resiliency. Agencies will need to assess opportunities to direct more procurement and contracting dollars to underserved individuals and communities so that a broad crosssection of American businesses can share in the jobs and opportunities PO 00000 Frm 00118 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 24031 created by Federal buying activities. Economic research shows that investing in underserved communities and closing racial wealth gaps yields economic growth and job creation that benefits all Americans. OMB welcomes submissions that address questions such as: • How do we achieve equity in a procurement system that must balance competing economic and social goals, including the need to conduct procurements in a streamlined and rapid manner? • What kinds of equity assessment tools might agencies use to identify inequity in their standard practices throughout the acquisition lifecycle, including, but not limited to, the development of requirements, market research (including outreach to businesses), selection of contract type, availability of financing, incentive structure, negotiation and evaluation of interested sources, debriefings of unsuccessful offerors, management of contracts, evaluation of contractor performance, and use of past performance in selection of sources? • What kinds of tools might agencies use to determine when there is inequity in the award of subcontracts under prime contracts and the cause of such? • How might agencies identify opportunities to engage with business owners and entrepreneurs who are members of underserved communities to promote doing business with the Federal Government? What kinds of training and capacity building within agency teams would support equitable procurement and contracting efforts? • What kinds of benchmarks and assessment techniques might support equitable procurement and contracting efforts? • What kinds of data should agencies collect and use to assess equity in their procurement practices? For Area 4, financial assistance: Federal agencies run financial assistance programs, including grant opportunities, that have the potential, and in many cases, a stated intent, to channel resources to underserved communities. OMB welcomes submissions that address questions such as: • How might agencies identify opportunities to adjust current practices in grants and other financial assistance programs to expand access for underserved communities and to achieve equity-oriented results? What are some promising approaches to the award and administration of Federal awards (including, for example, the integration of program planning and design) that should be considered? E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM 05MYN1 24032 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 85 / Wednesday, May 5, 2021 / Notices • What are promising practices for equitable grantmaking and the administration of financial assistance programs that agencies should consider in the course of their equity assessments? • How might agencies engage in outreach and stakeholder engagement to identify opportunities to make Federal grants and other financial assistance processes more accessible? • What kinds of training and capacity building within agencies would support equitable grantmaking and financial assistance efforts? • What kinds of benchmarks and assessment techniques would support equitable grantmaking and financial assistance efforts? • What kinds of data should agencies collect and use to assess equity in their grantmaking and financial assistance practices? For Area 5, on stakeholder and community engagement: Section 8 of E.O. 13985 instructs agencies to expand their use of stakeholder and community engagement in carrying out the Order. OMB seeks specific approaches to stakeholder and community engagement with underserved communities that others have successfully used and that Federal agencies could adapt or apply. Accordingly, OMB welcomes submissions that address questions such as: • What processes should agencies have in place to engage proactively with the underserved individuals and communities that will be most affected by agency programs, policies, rules, processes, or operations? How can agencies design and implement community engagement practices that are accessible to underserved communities? How might affected communities be engaged pro-actively and early to shape agency policy priorities and strategies? • What tools and best practices might agencies deploy to establish advisory boards, task forces, and commissions that are inclusive of underserved communities? • How can an agency assess the accessibility of the agency’s rulemaking and policymaking commenting and engagement processes, including for individuals that experience barriers to participation? Examples of barriers may include limited language access assistance, online-only engagement, and minimal proactive notification of opportunities to provide comment. • Do feedback mechanisms for customers, beneficiaries, and communities affected by Government programs exist to inform policy research VerDate Sep<11>2014 23:06 May 04, 2021 Jkt 253001 and evaluation processes? If so, are these feedback mechanisms accessible to underserved communities? If not, what are best practices that agencies should consider? • What tools could agencies develop for expanding stakeholder input into programmatic and regulatory changes to minimize barriers and burden? How may existing processes (e.g., notice and comment on information collections) be enhanced to improve accessibility by stakeholders? • What tools can agency offices, including communications, civic engagement, enforcement, and policymaking offices, use to better engage or reach underserved communities? • What are some of the barriers or factors that challenge underserved communities’ interactions with Federal agencies and programs? • What practices should agencies put in place to reach underserved communities in rural areas or underserved communities that otherwise are not able to visit Washington, DC, to engage with policymakers? Shalanda Young, Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget. [FR Doc. 2021–09109 Filed 5–4–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3110–01–P NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND THE HUMANITIES 30-Day Notice for the ‘‘NEA Panelist Profile Data’’ AGENCY: National Endowment for the Arts. Notice of proposed collection; comment request. ACTION: The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, conducts a preclearance consultation program to provide the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing collections of information in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. This program helps to ensure that requested data can be provided in the desired format, reporting burden (time and financial resources) is minimized, collection instruments are clearly understood, and the impact of collection requirements on respondents can be properly assessed. Currently, the NEA is soliciting comments concerning the proposed SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00119 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 information collection for the NEA Panelist Profile Data. Copies of this ICR, with applicable supporting documentation, may be obtained by visiting www.Reginfo.gov. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments within 30 days from the date of this publication in the Federal Register. ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attn: OMB Desk Officer for the National Endowment for the Arts, Office of Management and Budget, Room 10235, Washington, DC 20503. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attn: OMB Desk Officer for the National Endowment for the Arts, Office of Management and Budget, Room 10235, Washington, DC 20503, (T) 202– 395–7316. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is particularly interested in comments which: (1) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Could help minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of electronic submission of responses through Grants.gov. Agency: National Endowment for the Arts. Title: NEA Panelist Profile Data Collection. OMB Number: 3135–0098. Frequency: Annually. Affected Public: Individuals. Estimated Number of Respondents: 600. Total burden hours: 100 hours. Total annualized capital/startup costs: 0. Total annual costs (operating/ maintaining systems or purchasing services): 0. The NEA’s mission is ‘‘to strengthen the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation.’’ With the advice of the National Council on the Arts and advisory panels, the Chairman establishes eligibility requirements and criteria for the review of applications for funding. Section 959(c) of the NEA’s enabling legislation, as amended, directs E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM 05MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 85 (Wednesday, May 5, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 24029-24032]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-09109]


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OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET


Methods and Leading Practices for Advancing Equity and Support 
for Underserved Communities Through Government

AGENCY: Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the 
President.

ACTION: Request for Information (RFI).

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Recent Executive Orders have charged the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB), in partnership with the heads of agencies, to 
identify, by July 2021, effective methods for assessing whether agency 
policies and actions (e.g., programs, services, processes, and 
operations) equitably serve all eligible individuals and communities, 
particularly those that are currently and historically underserved. As 
part of this effort, agencies are directed to 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 to evaluate opportunities, as allowable, to 
increase coordination, communication, and engagement with community-
based and civil rights organizations. Through this request for 
information (RFI), OMB seeks input, information, and recommendations 
from a broad array of stakeholders in the public, private, advocacy, 
not-for-profit, and philanthropic sectors, including State, local, 
Tribal, and territorial areas, on available methods, approaches, and 
tools that could assist in this effort. OMB will consider the 
usability, applicability, and rigor of submissions in response to this 
RFI as OMB gathers resources to support agencies as they conduct 
internal assessments on the state of equity in their policies, 
programs, services, processes, and operations. OMB will also use what 
it learns from responses to this RFI as OMB works to expand use of 
equity-assessment methods and approaches across the Federal Government, 
as agencies develop agency Equity Action Plans (due to the Domestic 
Policy Council by January 19, 2022) outlining steps they will take to 
address identified gaps in equity.

DATES: Responses to this RFI should be received by July 6, 2021.

ADDRESSES: You should submit comments via the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal at https://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the instructions for 
submitting comments. All public comments received are subject to the 
Freedom of Information Act and will be posted in their entirety at 
https://www.regulations.gov/, including any personal and/or business 
confidential information provided. Do not include any information you 
would not like to be made publicly available.
    Written responses should not exceed 20 pages, inclusive of a 1-page 
cover page as described below. Attachments or linked resources or 
documents are not included in the 20-page limit. Please respond 
concisely, in plain language, and in narrative format. You may respond 
to some or all of the questions listed in the RFI. Please ensure it is 
clear which question you are responding to. You may also include links 
to online material or interactive presentations but please ensure all 
links are publicly available. Each response should include:
     The name of the individual(s) and/or organization 
responding.
     The Area section(s) (1, 2, 3, 4 and/or 5) that your 
submission and materials support.
     A brief description of the responding individual(s) or 
organization's mission and/or areas of expertise, including any public-
private partnerships with Federal, State, tribal, territorial, or local 
governments within the past three years that are relevant to this RFI.
     A contact for questions or other follow-up on your 
response.
    By responding to the RFI, each participant (individual, team, or 
legal entity) warrants that they are the sole author or owner of, or 
has the right to use, any copyrightable works that the Submission 
comprises, that the works are wholly original (or is an improved 
version of an existing work that the participant has sufficient rights 
to use and improve), and that the Submission does not infringe any 
copyright or any other rights of any third party of which participant 
is aware.
    By responding to the RFI, each participant (individual, team, or 
legal entity) consents to the contents of their submission being made 
available to all Federal agencies and their employees on an internal-
to-government website accessible only to agency staffpersons.
    Participants will not be required to transfer their intellectual 
property rights to OMB, but Participants must grant to the Federal 
government a nonexclusive license to apply, share, and use the 
materials that are included in the Submission. To participate in the 
RFI, each participant must warrant that there are no legal obstacles to 
providing the above-referenced nonexclusive licenses of participant 
rights to the Federal government.
    Interested parties who respond to this RFI may be contacted for a 
follow-on strategic agency assessment dialogue, discussion, event, 
crowdsource campaign, or competition.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Issues regarding submission or 
questions on this RFI can be sent to Amira Boland at 202-395-5222 or to 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    E.O. 13985 states: ``Equal opportunity is the bedrock of American 
democracy, and our diversity is one of our country's greatest 
strengths. But for too many, the American Dream remains out of reach. 
Entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies, and in our 
public and private institutions, have often denied that equal 
opportunity to individuals and communities. Our country faces

[[Page 24030]]

converging economic, health, and climate crises that have exposed and 
exacerbated inequities, while a historic movement for justice has 
highlighted the unbearable human costs of systemic racism. Our Nation 
deserves an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches 
the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.
    It is therefore the policy of my Administration that the Federal 
Government should 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. Affirmatively advancing equity, 
civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the 
responsibility of the whole of our Government. Because advancing equity 
requires a systematic approach to embedding fairness in decision-making 
processes, executive departments and agencies (agencies) must recognize 
and work to redress inequities in their policies and programs that 
serve as barriers to equal opportunity.''
    Within 200 days of the date of the E.O. (by August 8, 2021), 
agencies must submit to the Assistant to the President for Domestic 
Policy an assessment of the state of equity for underserved communities 
and individuals, including on the following points, for example:
     Barriers that underserved communities and individuals may 
face to enrollment in and access to benefits and services in Federal 
programs;
     Barriers that underserved communities and individuals may 
face in participation in agency procurement and contracting 
opportunities;
     Barriers that underserved communities and individuals may 
face in participation in agency grant programs and other forms of 
financial assistance;
     Opportunities in current agency policies, regulations, and 
guidance to address affirmatively and equitably the underlying causes 
of systemic inequities in society;
     Opportunities in agency community engagement processes to 
engage with and empower marginalized, vulnerable, or underserved 
communities more directly to advance equitable policymaking; and
     The operational status and level of institutional 
resources available to agency offices or divisions responsible for 
advancing civil rights or required to serve underrepresented or 
disadvantaged communities.
    Within one year of the date of E.O. 13985 (by January 19, 2022), 
the head of each agency will develop a plan for addressing any barriers 
to full and equal participation in programs and procurement 
opportunities identified in its assessment. Such a plan could include 
establishing ongoing routines to assess and rectify gaps in full and 
equal participation in programs and procurement opportunities.
    E.O. 13985 uses the following definitions, which OMB adopts for 
purposes of this RFI.
    The term ``equity'' means the consistent and systematic fair, just, 
and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who 
belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, 
such as women and girls; Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native 
American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other 
persons of color; persons facing discrimination or barriers on account 
of gender identity; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, 
bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with 
disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise 
adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.
    The term ``underserved communities'' refers to populations sharing 
a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, that 
have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in 
aspects of economic, social, and civic life, as exemplified by the list 
in the preceding definition of ``equity.''

Information and Key Questions

    OMB seeks input in the following areas:
    1. Equity Assessments and Strategies. Approaches and methods for 
holistic and program- or policy-specific assessments of equity for 
public sector entities, including but not limited to the development of 
public policy strategies that advance equity and the use of data to 
inform equitable public policy strategies.
    2. Barrier and Burden Reduction. Approaches and methods for 
assessing and remedying barriers, burden, and inequities in public 
service delivery and access.
    3. Procurement and Contracting. Approaches and methods for 
assessing equity in agency procurement and contracting processes.
    4. Financial Assistance. Approaches and methods for assessing 
equity in the administration of agency grant programs and other forms 
of financial assistance.
    5. Stakeholder and Community Engagement. Approaches and methods for 
accessible and meaningful agency engagement with underserved 
communities.
    The descriptions below represent a non-exhaustive accounting of 
issues that may fall under each topic area. These may assist in the 
formulation of comments. The list is not intended to restrict 
submissions. For all prompts, OMB requests that commenters incorporate 
examples, data, and, in particular, research or academic literature 
whenever possible.
    For Area 1 on equity assessments and strategies:
    The work of advancing equity requires a holistic assessment of 
agency practices and policies. Some Federal agencies will need to 
implement new approaches to assess whether future proposed policies, 
budgets, regulations, grants, or programs will be effective in 
advancing equity. OMB welcomes submissions that provide resources, 
tools, and examples of how agencies might conduct effective equity 
assessments, with the goal of embedding equity throughout agency 
practices and policies. Submissions might consider questions such as:
     What are some promising methods and strategies for 
assessing equity in internal agency practices and policies? What 
knowledge, skills, or supports do practitioners need to use such tools 
effectively?
     What are some promising methods and strategies for 
identifying systemic inequities to be addressed by agency policy?
     Jurisdictions at the State, local, Tribal, and territorial 
level have implemented equity assessment tools to inform their 
policymaking, budgetary, or regulatory processes. What are the lessons 
these jurisdictions have learned from implementing or interacting with 
those tools?
     What are some promising methods and strategies for 
advancing equity on urgent or immediate agency priorities?
     What types of equity assessment tools are especially 
useful for agencies with national security, foreign policy or law 
enforcement missions?
     How might agencies collect data and build evidence in 
appropriate and protected ways to reflect underserved individuals and 
communities and support greater attention to equity in future 
policymaking?
     How might agencies build capacity and provide training and 
support for teams conducting this work?
     How can community engagement or feedback from underserved 
individuals with lived expertise on a given policy problem be 
integrated meaningfully in an agency's use of equity assessment 
methods?

[[Page 24031]]

    For Area 2 on barrier and burden reduction:
    Members of underserved communities may experience a variety of 
external factors that may disproportionately affect their access to 
information about programs or program eligibility, applying for 
benefits, conducting post-award reporting, and recertification of 
eligibility. These barriers may include, but are not limited to: Non-
traditional or inflexible work hours, childcare needs, housing 
insecurity, limited transportation access, limited proficiency in 
English, disability, low literacy, income or other resource 
constraints, stigma in accessing public programs, and limited access to 
technology.
    Other barriers are internal to the administration of programs. 
While certain program rules may ensure that benefits are awarded to 
eligible individuals or are otherwise required by law, others are not 
necessary for ensuring benefits are awarded to eligible individuals and 
may be remedied via administrative or regulatory changes. The latter 
category of program rules may include: Unnecessary questions or 
requirements to produce documentation; complex eligibility formulas; 
forms or web applications that are confusingly designed; complicated 
instructions; long delays between application and adjudication; the 
need for third-party (e.g., advocacy organization, legal counsel) 
support or consultation; frequent recertification of eligibility; 
processes that require multiple forms or touch-points; and duplicative 
or similar information collections by multiple agencies.
    Responses should include, but not be limited to, information on any 
or all of the following points:
     How can agencies address known burdens or barriers to 
accessing benefits programs in their assessments of benefits delivery?
     What data, tools, or evidence are available to show how 
particular underserved communities or populations disproportionately 
encounter these barriers? Which underserved communities experience 
multiple, cumulative barriers and are disproportionately burdened by 
specific administrative processes or requirements?
     Are there specific requirements or processes (e.g., in-
person visits, frequency of recertification of eligibility) that have 
been shown in rigorous research to cause program drop-off or churn by 
underserved individuals and communities? Similarly, is there rigorous 
evidence available that certain requirements or processes have little 
actual effect on program integrity?
     How could agencies incorporate considerations of the 
psychological costs of qualifying or applying for Federal benefits 
programs into their assessments of equitable service delivery?
     What kinds of equity assessment tools are more useful for 
addressing urgent agency priorities versus making systemic change?
     What types of overarching metrics (e.g., program uptake, 
over- or under-payments) might an agency use to measure a benefit 
program's outcomes [or whether it is implemented as intended?]?
     How might an agency assess or balance prioritization of 
potentially competing values associated with program administration, 
such as program uptake, program integrity, privacy protection, and 
resource constraints, in the context of addressing equity for 
underserved individuals and communities?
     How might agencies assess if specific barriers (e.g., 
specific questions on forms or requirements such as in-person 
interviews) are achieving their intended purpose?
     How might agencies incorporate into their equity 
assessments barriers or duplicative burdens a participant is likely to 
experience when seeking services from multiple agencies?
     How can agencies best balance collecting demographic 
information about program applicants and participants with the 
potential effect on program participation that these questions may 
cause? What does rigorous research show about the effect of demographic 
questions on program participation?
    For Area 3, on procurement and contracting:
    The Federal Government is the world's largest purchaser of goods 
and services, with acquisitions totaling over $650 billion per year. As 
the Federal Government's purchasing power is used to fight COVID-19, 
increase domestic productivity, combat climate change, and address 
other Administration priorities, agencies will need to assess 
opportunities to invest in underserved individuals and communities by 
promoting business diversity (including, but not limited to, 
professional services, financial services, and technology) and 
resiliency. Agencies will need to assess opportunities to direct more 
procurement and contracting dollars to underserved individuals and 
communities so that a broad cross-section of American businesses can 
share in the jobs and opportunities created by Federal buying 
activities. Economic research shows that investing in underserved 
communities and closing racial wealth gaps yields economic growth and 
job creation that benefits all Americans.
    OMB welcomes submissions that address questions such as:
     How do we achieve equity in a procurement system that must 
balance competing economic and social goals, including the need to 
conduct procurements in a streamlined and rapid manner?
     What kinds of equity assessment tools might agencies use 
to identify inequity in their standard practices throughout the 
acquisition lifecycle, including, but not limited to, the development 
of requirements, market research (including outreach to businesses), 
selection of contract type, availability of financing, incentive 
structure, negotiation and evaluation of interested sources, 
debriefings of unsuccessful offerors, management of contracts, 
evaluation of contractor performance, and use of past performance in 
selection of sources?
     What kinds of tools might agencies use to determine when 
there is inequity in the award of subcontracts under prime contracts 
and the cause of such?
     How might agencies identify opportunities to engage with 
business owners and entrepreneurs who are members of underserved 
communities to promote doing business with the Federal Government? What 
kinds of training and capacity building within agency teams would 
support equitable procurement and contracting efforts?
     What kinds of benchmarks and assessment techniques might 
support equitable procurement and contracting efforts?
     What kinds of data should agencies collect and use to 
assess equity in their procurement practices?
    For Area 4, financial assistance:
    Federal agencies run financial assistance programs, including grant 
opportunities, that have the potential, and in many cases, a stated 
intent, to channel resources to underserved communities. OMB welcomes 
submissions that address questions such as:
     How might agencies identify opportunities to adjust 
current practices in grants and other financial assistance programs to 
expand access for underserved communities and to achieve equity-
oriented results? What are some promising approaches to the award and 
administration of Federal awards (including, for example, the 
integration of program planning and design) that should be considered?

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     What are promising practices for equitable grantmaking and 
the administration of financial assistance programs that agencies 
should consider in the course of their equity assessments?
     How might agencies engage in outreach and stakeholder 
engagement to identify opportunities to make Federal grants and other 
financial assistance processes more accessible?
     What kinds of training and capacity building within 
agencies would support equitable grantmaking and financial assistance 
efforts?
     What kinds of benchmarks and assessment techniques would 
support equitable grantmaking and financial assistance efforts?
     What kinds of data should agencies collect and use to 
assess equity in their grantmaking and financial assistance practices?
    For Area 5, on stakeholder and community engagement:
    Section 8 of E.O. 13985 instructs agencies to expand their use of 
stakeholder and community engagement in carrying out the Order. OMB 
seeks specific approaches to stakeholder and community engagement with 
underserved communities that others have successfully used and that 
Federal agencies could adapt or apply.
    Accordingly, OMB welcomes submissions that address questions such 
as:
     What processes should agencies have in place to engage 
proactively with the underserved individuals and communities that will 
be most affected by agency programs, policies, rules, processes, or 
operations? How can agencies design and implement community engagement 
practices that are accessible to underserved communities? How might 
affected communities be engaged pro-actively and early to shape agency 
policy priorities and strategies?
     What tools and best practices might agencies deploy to 
establish advisory boards, task forces, and commissions that are 
inclusive of underserved communities?
     How can an agency assess the accessibility of the agency's 
rulemaking and policymaking commenting and engagement processes, 
including for individuals that experience barriers to participation? 
Examples of barriers may include limited language access assistance, 
online-only engagement, and minimal proactive notification of 
opportunities to provide comment.
     Do feedback mechanisms for customers, beneficiaries, and 
communities affected by Government programs exist to inform policy 
research and evaluation processes? If so, are these feedback mechanisms 
accessible to underserved communities? If not, what are best practices 
that agencies should consider?
     What tools could agencies develop for expanding 
stakeholder input into programmatic and regulatory changes to minimize 
barriers and burden? How may existing processes (e.g., notice and 
comment on information collections) be enhanced to improve 
accessibility by stakeholders?
     What tools can agency offices, including communications, 
civic engagement, enforcement, and policymaking offices, use to better 
engage or reach underserved communities?
     What are some of the barriers or factors that challenge 
underserved communities' interactions with Federal agencies and 
programs?
     What practices should agencies put in place to reach 
underserved communities in rural areas or underserved communities that 
otherwise are not able to visit Washington, DC, to engage with 
policymakers?

Shalanda Young,
Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget.
[FR Doc. 2021-09109 Filed 5-4-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3110-01-P