Evan Vucci / AP

Agencies Are Generally Complying With Trump Diversity Training Changes, Watchdogs Find

A federal judge recently issued a preliminary injunction for the executive order as it applies to contractors and grantees. 

The majority of federal agencies are generally adhering to President Trump’s controversial executive order banning certain types of diversity training, based on publicly available watchdog reports.

The executive order Trump issued on September 22 targeted training for federal employees, contractors, the military and grantees that is “rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country.” It says agency heads should ask their inspectors general to review their compliance with the order by the end of 2020 and annually thereafter. As of Tuesday afternoon, 12 IGs had submitted reports. Democratic lawmakers, civil rights groups and others have criticized the directive, claiming it allows for discrimination. 

In addition to asking for the IG reviews, the executive order said the heads must review their grant programs and find ones for which they “may, as a condition of receiving such a grant, require the recipient to certify that it will not use federal funds to promote” race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating, ensure that they do not use such training themselves and designate at least one political appointee to oversee their compliance with the order. 

The Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management were to review agencies’ adherence to the order and possibly issue supplemental guidance, which OMB did on September 28. Within 90 days, agencies had to report to OMB on their fiscal 2020 spending on training programs related to diversity and inclusion, indicating whether agency staff or a contractor conducted the program.

According to the IG reports released so far, the State Department, Federal Maritime Commission, Tennessee Valley Authority, Farm Credit Administration, Chemical Safety Board, Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Department and Labor Department are fully in compliance with the executive order.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and U.S. Agency for International Development are on their way to becoming fully compliant. The Defense Department IG reported mixed progress for the Pentagon. 

The U.S. Agency for Global Media did not comply with the executive order’s requirements at the IG’s investigation, but is taking steps to do so now. The chief executive officer of the agency needs “to incorporate the requirements of the EO into agency operations and assign at least one senior political appointee to oversee the implementation of the EO,” said the IG in a report issued on December 29. 

The Peace Corps IG said in its semi-annual report, published on November 30, that “Peace Corps leadership has expressed that its diversity and inclusion efforts are being undertaken within the bounds of the recent executive order,” but does not mention a review. 

If more IGs did assessments, they were not posted online. OMB did not respond for comment on the progress agencies have made. 

On December 22, a federal judge in California issued a preliminary injunction for the executive order as it applies to contractors and grantees, after a group of nonprofit organizations and consultants focused on the LGBT community and individuals with HIV sued to block it. 

The judge’s order included halting the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs hotline for complaints on contractors not following the order.

In October, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Urban League and National Fair Housing Alliance also filed a lawsuit seeking to block the executive order. 

President-elect Biden will revoke “harmful Trump executive orders,” said Jen Psaki, a senior adviser on the transition team, during a briefing last week. It is unclear at this point if the diversity training order one is one of them. The transition team did not respond for further comment.