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OPM pauses all agency diversity training programs

The Office of Personnel has put all diversity training and inclusion programs in the executive branch on hold pending a compliance review. 

Last month the president signed an executive order, titled “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” that requires federal employment contracts to include a provision that says contractors with the federal government will not have "workplace training that inculcates in its employees any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating" or face the cancellation of contracts.

The EO aims to “combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating,” and end so-called “divisive concepts” covered in some of these workplace trainings, and establishes requirements aimed at “promoting unity in the federal workforce,” by prohibiting messages in workplace trainings that imply “an individual, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

OPM Oct. 2 issued a memorandum providing guidance and how to implement the order, which applies to all diversity and inclusion training programs, including programs developed before the Executive Order, as well as new programs that may be proposed or established after September 22, 2020.

“Coverage includes, but is not limited to, all training that is paid for with federal funds or that federal employees are required or permitted to view, listen to, or participate in while on government-paid time,” the memo states, adding “Included is training that is conducted or led by government employees; training that is conducted or led by contractors or others; live training sessions conducted in person or by any electronic means, whether telephonic or video; materials posted on any Federal agency’s public-facing or internal Internet or Intranet sites; and, written or video materials or other content that have been produced or procured with federal funds and that are available to the general public or that federal employees are required or permitted to read or view.”

Under the rule, OPM must review and approve training materials “before they are used” even if they were used in the past. 

Agencies are encouraged to review and improve their materials before submitting them to OPM, which will also review them before they are utilized, but if agencies can improve their materials before submitting them, that will expedite completion of the review process.

2021 Digital Almanac

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