Biden HHS Pushes ‘Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility’ Agenda

President Joe Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services is creating a “strategic plan” to advance goals for “diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility” in the federal workforce, according to an internal document obtained by The Daily Signal. 

The strategic plan at HHS, implemented in response to Biden’s executive orderIn June 2021, we will continue to build on the diversity initiatives that are already in line with administration policy. 

HHS is the federal government’s largest grant-making agency, and has awarded more dollars than any other agencies. This strategy plan to increase diversity will likely influence who or what entities are granted grants in the future.

“We are a very multiethnic country. You cannot make decisions to apply the law differently because of skin color,” Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal when asked to comment on the HHS project. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

Like other agencies, the HHS diversity plan must be completed by March 23. From that point forward, the Department of Health and Human Services must “establish quarterly goals and report annually on goal progress,” the document says. 

In late November, the Biden administration followed up on the president’s executive order by giving HHS and other agencies a “road map” to help each craft a strategic plan, reported FCW, a digital publication for federal information tech officials.

Biden’s order included definitions of the terms diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility—as well as “underserved communities”—that are meant to serve as a guide for the entire federal workforce. 

The definition of underserved communities is the most verbose, taking in “individuals who belong to communities of color, such as Black and African American, Hispanic and Latino, Native American, Alaska Native and Indigenous, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and North American persons.” 

The definition also “includes individuals who belong to communities that face discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity (including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, gender non-conforming, and non-binary (LGBTQ+) persons),” ”individuals with limited English proficiency,” “immigrants,” and “individuals who belong to communities that may face employment barriers based on older age or former incarceration.” 

Biden’s order says it is possible for individuals to belong to more than one underserved community. 

‘A Racist Reorganization’

Biden appointed Xavier Becerra, an ex-allegator general for California, as secretary of human services and health. He also contributes an introduction message.

In it, Becerra says team members “will work hand-in-hand with each operating division and each staff division engaging members of underserved communities to ensure tight collaboration, partnership, accountability, and ultimately, progress toward our DEIA-related ambitions.” 

The goal, Becerra adds, is to “embed DEIA [diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility] into the fabric” of the work done not just at Health and Human Services, but throughout the entire administration.

An HHS spokesperson did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment on its draft strategic plan. 

Mike Howell is a senior adviser at The Heritage Foundation on government relations and said that he sees a Biden administration effort for federal government reorganization along racial lines. 

 “The Biden administration is beholden to the woke agenda,” Howell said in an email to The Daily Signal. “This country has real problems to solve, and instead the Biden administration is focused on a racist reorganization of the federal government not seen since Democrat President Woodrow Wilson resegregated the government.

“Nothing good comes of this,” he said.

Strings Attached? 

Biden’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 allocates$131.8 million in discretionary budget authority and $1.5 billion in mandatory funding for Department of Health and Human Services. This totals about  80,000 employees. 

According to an an, the proposed budget represents a $25.1 billion (or 23.5% increase) in fiscal 2021. analysisFrom the Association of American Medical Colleges, a nonprofit organization. According to a report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the agency could spend up to $2.1 trillion during fiscal 2022. government records.

The Department of Health and Human Services has significant influence over grantmaking, where it has established relationships and partnerships with public and private entities. In fact, the document says, “HHS is responsible for almost a quarter of all federal expenditures and administers more grant dollars than all other federal agencies combined.”

The department has collaborated over the years with state, local and tribal governments, as well as nongovernmental organizations. The HHS document on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility tacitly acknowledges that grant recipients may need to toe the line in following the directives of Biden’s executive order, saying:

HHS-funded services are often provided at the local level by grantees working in the private sector. These include academic institutions, faith-based and neighbourhood partnerships, and academic institutions. HHS also collaborates closely with international partners as well as other federal departments to maximize its impact on the public.

Amid the jargon on “DEIA” directives, Heritage’s Howell told The Daily Signal, he sees much at stake for taxpayers. He stated that he expects that Biden administration officials would make a concerted effort in order to funnel grants to groups considered sufficiently woke by the administration. 

“They are steering taxpayer resources—via the federal government’s enormous grant power—to organizations that only adhere to the wokest and most racially divisive principles,” Howell said.  

Although diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility have “been a focus” for many HHS divisions, the document says, these goals have not been a particularly high priority at the department level for the “last few years,” an apparent reference to the Trump administration.

‘Opposite of Equality’

The Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion, which falls under the responsibility of the assistant HHS secretary, administration, is expected play a crucial role in rectifying any deficiencies. 

The office has been assigned the task of ensuring accountability “across three tiers” as officials implement the strategic plan: the DEIA Executive Council, the DEIA Advisory Committee, and the DEIA Division Council. The document says the office will provide support with “messaging” and “tools to collaborate most effectively” to ensure implementation of the plan. 

In his introduction to the HHS document, Becerra says that by successfully implementing these initiatives, his department will be in a better position to “tackle disparities in who gets access to health care and human services.”

But Heritage’s Gonzalez, who writes on critical race theory, identity politics, diversity, and multiculturalism, said he is not sure that Biden’s plans could pass the court system’s “strict scrutiny” standard, a form of judicial review based on the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. 

Gonzalez said he views the Biden administration’s approach to diversity and related issues as a “facade” designed to “enforce intellectual conformity” in violation of “individual identity.” 

Gonzalez also expressed concern that seemingly benign definitions such as diversity, equity and inclusion could be misinterpreted to indicate a political agenda.

Equity is the opposite of equality. It is the opposite of equality. 

It is the exact opposite of the government treating your skin colorblind. Inclusion is not about speech codes. You lose your speech rights because you can’t say anything that might be offensive to others.

5 Main Principles

According to The Daily Signal, five principles were incorporated into the HHS strategic planning. 

Principle 1 is “Demonstrated focus on increasing diversity within HHS.” The main objective is to address what the department views as “lack of a central recruitment and outreach strategy” for “underrepresented minorities.” 

Principle 2 is “Improved retention and opportunity creation,” meant to address “a particular lack of promotion or advancement” of “underrepresented groups.” 

Principle 3 is “Enhanced climate for equity, inclusion, and accessibility.” Although “significant activity” corresponds with the goals of Biden’s order, a “weak” and “inconsistent” connection exists between the department’s leadership and divisions charged with implementing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility directives that this principle is expected to rectify. 

Principle 4 prioritizes “Leadership-driven DEIA cultural reform” so that communication may be strengthened and supervisors have a firm grasp on how “to lead their teams through DEIA-related topics.” 

Principle 5 seeks “Strengthened DEIA insights through improved data.” The document identifies several challenges pertaining to “data integrity” where this principle comes into play. 

The document credit the Department of Health and Human Services for being ahead of other federal agencies when it comes to diversity initiatives. However, it also states that HHS has failed to update pertinent information.

The document says that the department

HHS has launched a nationwide demographic survey to update current information. It is also the first agency to include gender identity and sexual orientation for all employees. However, it remains difficult to find accurate, consistent, and current demographic data.   

The HHS document also says that the department has named a new chief diversity officer, but doesn’t specify who that is. 

Biden’s executive order on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility is only one of at least eight executive orders signed by the president to address diversity and equity objectives, according to the document. 

But unlike the other Biden orders, the document says, this one promotes an “internal (government workforce) focus for every federal department/agency.”

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