During his first hours in the White House, President Joe Biden declared “rooting out systemic racism” would be a goal for every single department and agency within his government.
Biden, who on Wednesday became the nation’s oldest president, issued an executive order shortly after his inaugural address making the advancement of racial equity a “whole-of-government initiative.”
The executive order will begin “the work of embedding equity across federal policymaking and rooting out systemic racism and other barriers to opportunity from federal programs and institutions,” the Biden White House announced in a statement.
As part of the initiative, the Biden administration will order every federal department and agency to “undertake a baseline review of the state of equity” and devise a plan within 200 days to combat “unequal barriers to opportunity in agency policies and programs.” Agencies will be required to not only study their own hiring and diversity practices, but must also more fairly disburse government benefits and services to “families of all backgrounds.”
The executive order further mandates that federal agencies will have to conduct proper reviews of all new policies to ensure they “advance equity.”
Susan Rice, the new White House domestic policy advisor, will lead the administration’s efforts to “hold the federal government accountable for advancing equity for families across America.” Helping her in the goal will be the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which will push for a more equitable allocation of federal resources and money to under-served communities when crafting the president’s budget.
The executive order makes good on a promise that Biden made to address institutional racism while running for the White House last year. Biden, in particular, leaned strongly into that message last summer after the death of George Floyd in police custody.
“We have a chance now to give the marginalized, the demonized, the isolated, [and] the oppressed a full share of the American dream,” Biden said in July 2020. “We have the chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.”