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Executive Summary

Advancing Equity Through Agency Mission

As the Federal government’s strategic partner for human resources policy, OPM is committed to a whole-of-government approach to advancing equity and supporting underserved communities. Through efforts such as future of work hiring initiatives, recruitment of early career talent, and identifying barriers to public service, we continue to build a Federal workforce that draws from the full diversity of the American people.

Executive Summary of Equity Action Plan

OPM identified five high-impact priorities to address barriers underserved communities may face in the Federal government and outlines actions OPM will take to advance equity.

Continue Efforts to Expand Access and Use of Post-Audit Applicant Flow Data (AFD)

To better support Federal agencies, OPM plans to continue to expand Federal agency access to anonymized and post-audit AFD and strengthen the capacity of Federal agencies to analyze, interpret, and utilize AFD in accordance with all applicable laws. AFD is the demographic information provided by applicants on a voluntary basis for Federal job opportunity announcements through the website. After a job opportunity is closed and all certificates issued under the announcement are audited, Federal agencies may use anonymized, post-audit AFD as part of their efforts to determine the existence of any barriers affecting applicants, as well as to develop future recruitment efforts.

OPM’s role is to ensure agencies have access to anonymized, post-audit AFD and can collaborate with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to provide tools and training for agencies on the appropriate use of AFD. Additionally, OPM will partner with Talent Acquisition Systems to develop and implement government-wide data standards and business rules for the development and agency access of AFD. This will enable agencies to collect, access or use AFD from talent acquisition system provider(s) more easily.

Fostering a Diverse, Equitable, Inclusive, and Accessible Workforce

OPM seeks to advance the Federal government as a model employer and lead efforts to build a strong Federal workforce. To lead as a model employer, OPM has analyzed barriers within recruitment and retention for early career talent in the Federal government, including the recruitment of students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). OPM partnered with Hampton University and a local high school district, Hampton City Schools, to pilot a one-day Federal career-readiness event called “Level Up to Public Service.” The evaluation of the post-event data revealed this event was successful in sparking interest in and improving student understanding of Federal careers and internships. OPM will scale the original pilot program to include a cross section of HBCUs over the next year and will grow the effort to include Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Institutions, and community colleges.

OPM will also create government-wide technical assistance to support Federal agencies which are engaging with MSIs and invest in a paid media campaign that all agencies can use to recruit early career talent from underserved communities. As a result of these efforts, OPM, in collaboration with the Chief Diversity Officers Executive Council and other relevant stakeholders, will address barriers that the Federal government currently faces with attracting and retaining early career talent from underserved communities.

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Affordability Study

OPM is committed to identifying barriers facing those eligible to enroll in the FEHB Program (Federal employees, annuitants, and Tribal employees). Available evidence suggests that lower waged Federal employees and retirees experience difficulty affording their share of premiums, as well as health plan copayments and coinsurance. OPM is conducting an FEHB Affordability Study to understand the root causes leading to employees choosing not to enroll in FEHB Program. This study will analyze enrollment patterns, the Federal Employee Benefit Survey, and focus group feedback. This affordability study will support efforts in advancing equity for underserved communities by identifying barriers to accessing affordable health insurance coverage offered through the FEHB Program and examining ways of overcoming those barriers to seek to ensure all Federal employees have access to health benefits.

FEHB Services that support high quality Maternal Health Care for Federal Employees

Poor maternal health outcomes for Native Americans and African Americans far exceed those of other pregnant people, and these disparities persist at all income levels. OPM is committed to serving as a model employer by ensuring that all pregnant FEHB Program enrollees have access to high quality perinatal care, including more intensive services for high-risk pregnancies resulting from medical and/or social circumstances. OPM has strongly encouraged FEHB Program Carriers to expand coverage and services for prenatal and postpartum care that includes screening and treatment for postpartum depression; adopt the Hear Her™ Campaign enhancing communications between patients and healthcare providers; increase reimbursement and expand coverage for certified nurse midwives, birth centers, and perinatal support services such as doulas and nurse home visits; and contract with hospitals that have received HHS’s “Birthing-Friendly” hospital designation. OPM will continue to address equity barriers for underserved communities by encouraging FEHB Carriers to expand those services aimed at reducing maternal health disparities.

Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Study

OPM is committed to identifying barriers and understanding how paid parental leave (PPL) affects Federal employees and agencies. Available evidence suggests that some eligible Federal employees are not taking the full PPL benefits that are available to them through the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA). FEPLA provides up to 12 weeks of PPL to eligible Federal employees in connection with the birth of an employee’s child or placement of a child with an employee for adoption or foster care. On August 10, 2020, OPM issued interim regulations to implement the PPL law, which went into effect on October 1, 2020. This study will advance equity for Federal employees by assessing any gaps in use of leave by demographic group and examining any effects on women’s participation in the labor force. This study is also included in the OPM commitments for the National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality.

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