OPM Memo Puts Pause on Diversity Training Across Government

The Trump administration is pushing forward with its controversial purge of training it deems “un-American.”

The Office of Personnel Management told agency heads on Friday that they need to submit all materials used in diversity and inclusion training courses to the federal government’s HR agency for approval in light of President Trump’s controversial executive order banning training that it claims is “un-American.”

Last month, Trump signed an executive order barring federal agencies and contractors from using diversity training that involves critical race theory, “race and sex scapegoating” or unconscious bias, and threatens discipline for employees and contractors who engage in it. The initiative has drawn derision from federal employee groups and federal employment attorneys, who have described it as confusing, politically motivated and possibly unlawful.

In a memo to agency heads, OPM Associate Director for Employee Services Dennis Kirk effectively halted all diversity training at federal agencies as the administration works to implement the executive order.

“The U.S. Office of Personnel Management must review and approve training materials before they are used, even if those materials have been utilized in the past,” Kirk wrote.

According to Federal News Network, an earlier version of the memo was even more explicit in ordering a freeze on diversity training.

“All diversity and inclusion training for federal employees is on hold, and may not proceed, until those materials have been submitted to OPM and OPM has reviewed and approved those materials,” it stated.

The memo confirms that all executive branch agencies are subject to the new diversity training rules, and the ban on “divisive” materials extends to all forms of training, whether they are administered by federal employees or contractors and whether it is conducted in-person, via tele- or video-conference or in webinar form.

Agencies are expected to submit all of their training materials to OPM for approval before they may resume training programs and the agency will review submissions on a first-come first-served basis. Kirk encouraged agencies to be proactive in excising materials that may run afoul of the new rules before they submit them for review.

“Agencies are encouraged to review and improve agency materials before submitting them to OPM,” Kirk wrote. “OPM must review and approve all diversity and inclusion materials before they are utilized, but if agencies can improve their materials before submitting them, that will expedite completion of the review process.”

Last month, Carol Perez, director general of the U.S. Foreign Service and director of global talent at the State Department, extolled the virtues of unconscious bias training, and said she was hopeful that its recent expansion at the department would aid her efforts to help improve the retention and equitable promotion of people of color.