OMB Updates Approaches to Faith-Based Projects

New York's Riverside Church New York's Riverside Church jiawangkun/Shutterstock.com

The White House budget office is clarifying its approach to federal partnerships with faith-based and neighborhood projects.

Agency heads have been asked to flesh out procedures according to a list of general principles identified in a 2012 report, according to guidance budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell issued on Friday. A key goal is to ensure federal grants and partnerships with neighborhood groups are “not made on the basis of an organization’s religious affiliation, or because of a lack of any religious affiliation,” said an accompanying blog post from Melissa Rogers, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

“This guidance will help agencies to ensure that these partnerships respect religious freedom guarantees and work effectively for faith-based and other community providers, and the people in need they serve,” Rogers wrote.

The guidance builds on a 2010 executive order that itself was based on recommendations from an advisory group representing diverse groups, including the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Incarnate Word Foundation, the Interfaith Alliance, the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The 2010 directive, which amended a 2002 executive order, asked agencies to increase transparency by posting online regulations, guidance documents and policies that have implications for faith-based and other neighborhood organizations. Such postings should include a list of organizations receiving federal funds.

The order also directed agencies to provide clearer guidance regarding the principle that any explicitly religious activities must be separated, in time or location, from programs that receive direct federal support. “Religious organizations also will be assured that they may continue practices like selecting board members on a religious basis, and still receive federal funding for eligible activities,” Rogers explained in her blog post.

The new guidance, according to Rogers, asks agencies to implement the order using a 2012 report that defines, for instance, what constitutes “direct aid.” Agency heads are also asked to suggest ways to train employees and monitor relationships to avoid “entanglements” over religious issues.

A working group of agencies is set to reconvene to gauge progress within 120 days. It includes OMB, the departments of State, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, Small Business Administration, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was created in 2001 by President George W. Bush under the name White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

(Image via jiawangkun/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.