Partnering with Federal Agencies to Advance Racial Equity


January 2022 marked the one-year anniversary of Executive Order 13985, the Biden-Harris Administration’s landmark order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which has resulted in the development of racial equity action plans across 90 federal agencies. The issuance of the executive order last year signaled a promising shift in the federal government’s understanding of its power to realize the aspirations of racial equity and to transform governing systems and structures to become antiracist and equitable. With the order, the administration also affirmed that the federal government has a role, and indeed an imperative, in designing a nation that works for all.

To meet this moment and assist federal agencies in realizing their racial equity aspirations, PolicyLink and Race Forward co-led a Racial Equity Governing Pilot Project with federal agencies in the fall and winter of 2021 and 2022. Building from For Love of Country: A Path for the Federal Government to Advance Racial Equity, which outlined clear actions agencies could consider to further embed racial equity into their work, this report discusses critical elements of these partnership pilots and lessons to inform and support the longer-term aspirations of the federal government to become actively anti-racist. More specifically, this report describes the work that commenced in partnership with agency offices, considers observations and lessons learned along the way, and discusses efforts that must continue at the federal level to fully realize the intentions of the executive order and move this country toward a more racially just future.