By Deborah Hopkins, June 22, 2021

It’s now been five months since President Biden issued Executive Orders 13985 and 13988 – what we at FELTG are now referring to as the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Executive Orders. If you paid close attention to the requirements in the EO, you’ve probably realized that there are some agency deadlines that have passed, or will be approaching very soon. Below is a review of some of the most important takeaways and tasks from these DEIA EOs.

Executive Order 13988: Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation

As the title of this EO suggests, the focus of this EO is on preventing and combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, including overlapping forms of discrimination. The following tasks and deadlines were assigned on the day the President took office:

Sec. 2. Enforcing Prohibitions on Sex Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. 

Task (a): Review all existing orders, regulations, guidance documents, policies, programs, or other agency actions that:

(i) were promulgated or are administered by the agency under Title VII or any other statute or regulation that prohibits sex discrimination, including any that relate to the agency’s own compliance with such statutes or regulations; and

(ii) are or may be inconsistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.

Deadline: As soon as practicable, and in consultation with the Attorney General.

Task (b): Consider whether to revise, suspend, or rescind such agency actions, or promulgate new agency actions, as necessary to fully implement statutes that prohibit sex discrimination and the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.

Deadline: As soon as practicable, and in consultation with the Attorney General.

Task (c): Consider whether there are additional actions that the agency should take to ensure that it is fully implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order. If an agency takes an action described in this subsection or subsection (b) of this section, it shall seek to ensure that it is accounting for, and taking appropriate steps to combat, overlapping forms of discrimination, such as discrimination on the basis of race or disability.

Deadline: As soon as practicable, and in consultation with the Attorney General.

Task (d): Develop, as appropriate, a plan to carry out actions that the agency has identified pursuant to subsections (b) and (c) of this section, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.

Deadline: In consultation with the Attorney General, 100 days: May 1, 2021.

Examples of impacted areas:

  • Health care providers
  • Restroom/locker room use in Federal buildings and on Federal land
  • Public postings
  • Harassment
  • Education
  • Immigration
  • Law enforcement
  • Employment

Hurry – register for the June 23 class Honoring Diversity: Ensuring Equity and Inclusion for LGBTQ Individuals.

Executive Order 13985: Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government

This EO focuses on what agencies can do to include all segments of the population in having access to the services that the Federal government provides, with an emphasis on communities that have traditionally had challenges in receiving equal access. Below are the tasks and deadlines, also issued January 20:

Sec. 4. Identifying Methods to Assess Equity. 

Task: Agency heads shall study methods for assessing whether agency policies and actions create or exacerbate barriers to full and equal participation by all eligible individuals.

The study should aim to identify the best methods, consistent with applicable law, to assist agencies in assessing equity with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, income, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability.


  • Vaccine distribution
  • Housing
  • Healthcare
  • Food security

Deadline: Within 6 months of the date of this order (July 21, 2021), the Director of OMB shall deliver a report to the President describing the best practices identified by the study and, as appropriate, recommending approaches to expand use of those methods across the Federal Government.

Sec. 5. Conducting an Equity Assessment in Federal Agencies.  

Task: Select certain agency programs and policies for a review that will assess whether underserved communities and their members face systemic barriers in accessing benefits and opportunities available pursuant to those policies and programs:

(a) Potential barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face to enrollment in and access to benefits and services in Federal programs;

(b) Potential barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face in taking advantage of agency procurement and contracting opportunities;

(c) Whether new policies, regulations, or guidance documents may be necessary to advance equity in agency actions and programs; and

(d) The operational status and level of institutional resources available to offices or divisions within the agency that are responsible for advancing civil rights or whose mandates specifically include serving underrepresented or disadvantaged communities.

Deadline: Within 200 days of the date of this order (August 9, 2021) provide a report to the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy (APDP) reflecting findings on a-d, above.

Sec. 6. Allocating Federal Resources to Advance Fairness and Opportunity.

Task: Allocate resources to address the historic failure to invest sufficiently, justly, and equally in underserved communities.

Deadline: None identified, though a mention of the President’s budget submission to Congress indicates sooner rather than later.

Sec. 7. Promoting Equitable Delivery of Government Benefits and Equitable Opportunities.

Task: Consult with the APDP and the Director of OMB to produce a plan for addressing:

(i) any barriers to full and equal participation in programs identified pursuant to section 5(a) of this order; and

(ii) any barriers to full and equal participation in agency procurement and contracting opportunities identified pursuant to section 5(b) of this order.

Deadline: 1 year; January 20, 2022.

Sec. 8. Engagement with Members of Underserved Communities.  

Task: In carrying out this order, agencies shall 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. The head of each agency shall evaluate opportunities, consistent with applicable law, to increase coordination, communication, and engagement with community-based organizations and civil rights organizations.


  • Surveys
  • Phone calls
  • Comment cards
  • Public outreach
  • Focus groups
  • Social media campaigns

Deadline: None identified; commensurate with deadlines above

It is certainly no small feat, and this is the starting point, rather than the end point. But these tasks all reflect the goals of this Administration, to promote DEIA in the Federal government, and in the services the government provides to Americans (and non-Americans) as well. [email protected] 

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