One of the first actions taken when President Biden took office in January 2021 was to sign an Executive Order focused on advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities through the Federal government. And as the Administration has worked with Congress to advance its priorities through legislation over the last year, the effort to advance this particular priority has been loud and clear in signature pieces like the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). On April 14, another step was taken to further this goal when over 90 federal agencies released a combined total of 300 new actions to address barriers to equity in federal services.
The plans were released by every major cabinet level agency as well as other smaller entities. The plans target specific ways to support underserved groups, including communities of color and communities disproportionately impacted by poverty. Many of the actions cited seem to dovetail with the objectives of programs funded in legislation like the IIJA. For example, the U.S. Department of Commerce included “Close the Digital Divide” as one strategy within their Equity Action Plan. One of the steps to implement this strategy is Commerce – through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration – will help administer the nearly $50 billion in IIJA available as grants to state and local governments to invest in broadband deployment. GFOA will continue to monitor and report developments as agencies take steps to implement their respective plans.