The Office of Personnel Management is encouraging agencies to establish diversity officers, according to a January 5 letter.
The effort stems from an executive order from Biden’s White House and the resulting strategic plan on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the federal workforce. Agencies have a deadline of March 23 to finalize plans for agency-specific DEIA efforts triggered by the decree.
“The federal government must be a model employer for the diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility of the workforce (DEIA), to function optimally and to attract, hire, develop, retain and promote people who have the skills and commitment to serve our nation ”OPM Director Kiran Ahuja wrote in the letter. “It begins by drawing on the wide variety of backgrounds, perspectives and lived experiences that the American people have to offer. Diversity is our greatest strength as a nation and our greatest asset in the world. public service.”
The decree did not require diversity officers (CDOs) or agency diversity and inclusion officers (DIOs), but it urged government agencies to “seek opportunities” to create such positions. The latest OPM letter follows this policy.
“Agencies should seek to establish a CDO or DIO that has the expertise and authority to work effectively with the head of the agency and influence senior officials across government,” Ahuja wrote. “Agencies may prescribe a title for newly created CDO or DIO positions using an organizational or unofficial title.”
These officials should be separate from any existing equal employment opportunity officers, she wrote. Ideally, they should be on the same footing as other key people responsible for DEIA’s efforts, such as EEO leaders, and report directly to agency heads, the letter says.
OPM will consider whether the CDO and DIO positions need a more formal classification series, Ahuja wrote. The agency is also creating a new forum “to engage” CDOs and DIOs, the letter said, and will provide more technical assistance and learning events to agencies on the subject.
This is one of the many efforts of DEIA that the personnel office is pursuing. It is also working to restore a government initiative on diversity and inclusion with the Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities and the Office of Management and Budget and to add accessibility and equity to the goal of this initiative, Ahuja wrote in the recent letter.
These diversity efforts also align with White House Biden’s presidential management agenda, she wrote.
As for what any new senior diversity staff will do in agencies, Ahuja wrote that CDOs and DIOs will play a critical role in bridging the opportunity gap in agencies, and that they can also “be responsible for improving the effectiveness of existing programs, strengthening accountability and communicating the value of DEIA.”
They can also help implement the decree by setting goals and actions in line with the recently released government strategic plan, she wrote.
The OPM encouraged agencies to use staffing flexibilities to start for these new staff and eventually gradually introduce long-term budgeting and resources. Ahuja also reminded agencies to use merit system processes and established rules for hiring new CDOs or DIOs.