OMB orders agencies to stop enforcing Trump's diversity training purge

NOTE: This story first appeared on FCW.com.

The Office of Management and Budget is instructing agency heads to remove traces of former President Donald Trump's ban of certain types of diversity and inclusion training among federal employees, contractors and grant recipients.

President Joe Biden rescinded the executive order, which targeted certain materials containing "divisive concepts" like critical race theory, the day he took office.

An OMB memo sent out to agency heads on Tuesday directs them to "ensure a complete reversal" by attempting to eliminate contract and grant agreement language added to execute Trump's order. The memo also overturns two previous OMB memos that implemented Trump's order and gave agencies a March 22 deadline for compliance.

Agencies should stop including any language implementing the Trump order in new contracts and to roll back any wholesale changes, known as "class deviations" in government contracting, issued to implement Trump's the executive order. Agencies are directed to "take all reasonable steps" to tell contractors that the old language is not being enforced.

Under the Trump executive order, contractors threatened with suspension and debarment for non-compliance. The new memo makes it clear those threats are off the table. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), a Labor Department office that had responsibilities with enforcing the order, is also stopping any enforcement, the memo says.

Federal grant recipients are also no longer required to certify their compliance with the order, the memo says. It instructs agencies not to enforce any terms in grants requiring compliance with the executive order.

As for federal employees themselves, the OMB memo says that the Office of Personnel Management will roll back its guidance to human resources specialists in the government about the order and stop reviewing diversity training. The personnel agency had essentially halted diversity training across federal agencies last fall in order to review training materials for the banned concepts.

The Biden administration is also pulling back other Trump-era rules and regulations for contractors. The OFCCP is looking to reverse a rule that was finalized on Dec. 9 and gives religious organizations that contract with the federal government exemptions from anti-discrimination policies.

Although officials made that intention clear to judges hearing lawsuits challenging the rule change, the office hasn't yet submitted a proposed notice of rescission to the OMB or the Federal Register, a Labor press representative confirmed.

Reversing the rule via notice-and-comment rulemaking could take months.

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.

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