President Donald Trump’s September executive order requiring agencies to do away with “divisive” diversity training has started to receive full implementation at several agencies, as verified by their respective offices of inspector general in recent weeks.
IG’s for the Department of State, Tennessee Valley Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Farm Credit Administration and Nuclear Regulatory Commission have confirmed to the Office of Management and Budget that their agencies are in full compliance with the EO’s requirements.
Those requirements include incorporating language in all contracts that prohibits the types of divisive training outlined in the order for contract employees, submitting relevant grant programs to the Office of Management and Budget, removing “divisive concepts” from agency training, ensuring diversity training contracts meet the EO’s requirements, requesting OIG to assess the agency’s compliance, appointing a senior political appointee to facilitate compliance, submitting all diversity training to the Office of Personnel Management, evaluating whether to debar any contracts that violate the EO and reporting all fiscal year 2020 spending on diversity training.
Of the eight reports on the diversity executive order implementation published to the central IG report site, only the U.S. Agency for Global Media was found to not be in compliance with the EO.
The IG report found that USAGM CEO Michael Pack did not issue an order to implement EO requirements by the Nov. 21 deadline and did not select a senior political appointee to oversee the implementation of that order.
The IG’s for the Department of Labor and Peace Corps noted that plans to implement and evaluate the EO were slated for 2021.
A recent court ruling has also put a halt to pursuing certain parts of the diversity EO, as a United States District Court judge for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction on Sections 4 and 5 of the order, which cover the requirement that all government contracts and grant awards prohibit certain types of diversity training for contracted employees.
The injunction stems from the Santa Cruz Lesbian and Gay Center v. Trump lawsuit, which asserts that the order “requires them to censor or cease the trainings that are fundamental to their missions on pain of losing federal funding in the form of contracts and grants, in violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.” It also contends that the order’s language is so vague that those impacted do not know which activities specifically could cause them to lose contracts.
Though the filing for an injunction initially covered the whole executive order, the plaintiffs later narrowed its scope to cover just contracts and grants, as the court expressed doubt that they had the standing to contest the order’s implementation for federal employees and members of the military.
In issuing the injunction, the court found that the lawsuit had a likelihood of success in demonstrating that Sections 4 ad 5 of the EO violate First Amendment rights and are too vague to delineate prohibited conduct.
President-elect Joe Biden has also indicated his intentions to overturn the diversity training order and listed the promotion of diversity within the federal workforce as a key element of his transition plans.
Jessie Bur covers the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees.