Interior Department Unveils Equity Action Plan, Outlines Continued Work to Advance Justice and Equity

Last edited 02/14/2024

Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2024

WASHINGTON — As part of the 2024 White House Convening on Equity, hosted by the Domestic Policy Council, the Department of the Interior today released its comprehensive Equity Action Plan, detailing strategic initiatives aimed at advancing equity across its operations and engagements. Rooted in the agency’s core mission to safeguard the nation’s natural resources, honor trust responsibilities to Indigenous communities and promote environmental justice, this plan sets forth a roadmap for promoting fairness, transparency and inclusivity in all aspects of the Department’s work.  

“Advancing our diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility goals is valuable in every corner of government. I’m proud of the work we are doing to respond to President Biden’s strong leadership on this at the Department of the Interior,” said Secretary Deb Haaland, who highlighted the Department’s work to implement the Buy Indian Act during the event’s “Equity in Action” panel. “In three years, we’ve made big, challenging and transformative accomplishments in addressing barriers to equity across the Department’s jurisdiction. Our Equity Action Plan represents a commitment to ensuring all Americans, regardless of background or circumstance, have equitable access to the resources and opportunities we manage.” 

This pivotal plan is integral to the Department’s efforts to meet the goals of President Biden’s Executive Order 14091, which charges federal agencies with proactively addressing the systemic barriers that impede equal opportunity for underserved communities. The 2023 Equity Action Plan identifies five key areas of focus, backed by evidence-based research and informed by public input: 

  1. Equitable Access to Public Programs: The Department aims to enhance accessibility to federally conducted and assisted programs for all members of the public, particularly those with disabilities and limited English proficiency. Initiatives include increasing compliance reviews, fostering partnerships to uphold civil rights statutes and expanding staffing to meet outreach and enforcement demands. 
  2. Trust in Law Enforcement: Building public trust in the Department’s law enforcement is a priority. The agency plans to implement culturally inclusive practices, enhance communication during critical incidents and establish wellness programs to support the mental health of its workforce. 
  3. Equity in Contracting: The Department seeks to promote equity in contracting practices by prioritizing businesses aligning with underserved communities. Efforts include monitoring performance against small business economic goals, collaborating with federal partners and expanding digital services to support small business vendors. 
  4. Access to Public Lands: Enhancing equitable access to recreation areas, particularly in urban communities and for underserved populations, is a focus. The Department plans to invest in transportation infrastructure, improve inclusivity in programming and strengthen data collection to evaluate visitor experiences. 
  5. Environmental Justice: Incorporating environmental justice consideration into policies and programs is paramount. The Department aims to modify existing programs, expand outreach to communities with environmental justice concerns and develop guidance documents incorporating Indigenous knowledge. These efforts will also help advance President Biden’s Justice40 initiative. 

Nearly two years ago, Secretary Haaland established the first-ever Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Council to integrate these principles throughout the Department’s work. The Council’s executive leadership coordinates policies, programs and initiatives addressing DEIA, ensuring input from employees at all levels, and serving as a forum for identifying and promoting best practices for integrating DEIA agency wide.  

For more information, visit the Department’s Equity Action plan website. 


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