Executive Order 13985

Equity Plan 

On April 14, 2022, the Department of the Interior published its Equity Action Plan, which lays the foundation for removing barriers to equal opportunity and delivering resources and benefits equitably to all Americans.

This Equity Action Plan is a key part of Interior’s efforts to implement Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. That Order calls on Federal agencies to advance equity by identifying and addressing barriers to equal opportunity that underserved communities may face because of some government policies and programs. The Action Plan addresses the three focus areas: contracts for businesses with characteristics that align with the definition of underserved communities; Tribal discretionary grants; and recreation on DOI-managed lands and waters. 



EO 13985 calls on agencies to advance equity through identifying and addressing barriers to equal opportunity that underserved communities may face due to government policies and programs. 

The Department has focused its initial implementation of EO 13985 on assessing three focus areas that support the agency mission and have high potential for equity impact: 

  • Contracts for Businesses with Characteristics that Align with the Definition of Underserved Community 
  • Recreation Access to DOI-managed Lands for Underserved Communities 
  • Applying For and Accessing Tribal Discretionary Grants 

Details about each focus area, associated listening session summaries, and links to Federal Register Notices are listed under each focus area below. Any questions regarding the Department of the Interior’s implementation of EO 13985 may be sent to DEIA@ios.doi.gov.  

Public Comments 

During Fall 2021, the Department invited public comments to obtain input on barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face related to these three initial focus areas, as well as recommendations to address the barriers. The Department received approximately 100 public comments, which can be reviewed through the Federal Register and www.regulations.gov.  Links to relevant Federal Register Notices are posted below. 

Listening Sessions 

As part of its implementation of EO 13985, the Department of the Interior coordinated with a third-party neutral facilitator to conduct 15 virtual listening sessions, which reached over 1700 registrants during Fall 2021. The third-party neutral facilitator prepared a final recommendations report for the Department, which will inform the Department’s Equity Plan. Listening sessions were not recorded, but meeting summaries are posted below.



Contracts for Businesses with Characteristics that Align with the Definition of Underserved Community  

The Department’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) implements policies, procedures, and outreach programs to emphasize the Department’s commitment to contracting with small and disadvantaged businesses, including businesses with characteristics that align with the definition of underserved communities. Given the number of contracts issued by the Department and its various bureaus and offices, the Department has the ability to use power of procurement to contract with and support small and disadvantaged businesses. Although several of OSDBU’s programs have distinct purposes, missions, and legal frameworks, opportunities exist to improve and promote engagement with underserved communities, particularly through outreach and stakeholder support. Identifying and addressing barriers in the Department’s procurement process, with a particular emphasis on outreach and stakeholder support strategies and processes, may improve opportunities for successful engagement of businesses that possess characteristics that align with the definition of underserved communities.  

Public Comments 

Listening Session Summaries 


Recreation Access to DOI-managed Lands for Underserved Communities  

Recreational opportunities are abundant across the more than 480 million acres of public lands and waters managed by the Department, however, public land visitation data collected from the Department’s bureaus suggests that certain underserved communities are underrepresented as visitors, relative to their presence in the U.S. population at large. Addressing barriers to recreation on DOI-managed lands and waters will enable more Americans to enjoy these sites and reap the physical and mental health benefits associated with greenspace and outdoor recreation. In addition, the Department, through its programs, can offer technical and financial support to promote and create equitable and close-to-home access to the outdoors beyond the boundaries of DOI-managed lands and waters (and specifically in underserved communities across the nation).  

Public Comments 

Listening Session Summaries 


Applying For and Accessing Tribal Discretionary Grants  

Tribes are eligible for a range of discretionary grant programs administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and other DOI bureaus. These grant programs can provide funding to support tribal operations, economic development, education, resilience, preservation of historic places, and other key functions. By addressing barriers to applying for and accessing DOI discretionary grants, the Department can better support Tribes in improving government infrastructure, community infrastructure, education, job training, climate adaptation planning and implementation capacity, and employment opportunities along with other components of long-term sustainable development that work to improve quality of life for their members.  

Public Comments 

Listening Session Summaries 

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