The Office of Inspector General community is taking a closer look at diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility trends across different agencies’ IG reports.
IG offices now have the ability to use a new tagging option when publishing documents to Oversight.gov, to flag reports specifically related to DEIA issues, and “allow more comprehensive and up-to-date research going forward,” an Aug. 10 compendium said.
The DEIA tagging option came after the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) created a DEIA working group last year, in an effort to advance diversity-related efforts across the OIG community. As part of its fiscal 2023 through 2027 strategic plan, CIGIE said it intends to look internally at DEIA advancements in its own workforce.
But those advancements aren’t limited only to the internal OIG community. In the compendium it released on Wednesday, the DEIA working group said it recognized there is “an inherent connection” between DEIA initiatives from stakeholders, and the reports that IG offices publish.
Stakeholders do not work inside IG offices, but they are affected by the decisions and actions of OIG, the working group said. They include federal agencies, individuals, Congress and recipients of federal funding or program benefits.
The purpose of this new DEIA compendium, in part, is to let stakeholders “increase their awareness of DEIA projects across the IG community,” the working group said.
The compendium came shortly after a June report, which detailed a “roadmap” for IG offices to enhance the inclusion of DEIA-related reports. The efforts “will allow all OIGs to increase their professionalism and effectiveness of their personnel and will aid in the establishment of a well-trained and highly skilled workforce,” CIGIE’s report said. Additionally, CIGIE highlighted in its strategic plan its goal of enhancing awareness, knowledge and understanding of DEIA principles by hosting activities and other types of training.
As part of this latest compendium, the DEIA working group compiled a list of past DEIA-related reports to Oversight.gov, between fiscal 2014 and 2021, though the list is not exhaustive, the group said.
“We believe the document can be used to discuss, learn about and generate project ideas for OIGs,” the working group said.
Those reports cover a broad swath of DEIA topics, including trends in promotions and professional development, as well as agency recruitment, hiring and staffing, and more. Many of the reports, for example, centered on the effectiveness of agencies’ human resources offices. In one report from 2021, the IG office for the Justice Department said that “dated, incomplete and disorganized” HR policies hindered the agency’s ability to fill vacant positions with high-quality candidates.
The challenges have “the potential to negatively impact the ability of DOJ components to recruit, hire and retain a high-performing and diverse workforce,” the report said.
Other reports that the working group included looked at agencies’ accessibility efforts. In one 2020 report, for example, the IG office for the Office of Personnel Management evaluated the agency’s disability process for retirement services, and found issues with the timeliness and tracking of those cases.
“Retirement services could not support that it met its requirement to annually reevaluate cases initially approved for disability retirement on a temporary basis until the annuitant reaches age 60,” the report said.
Many of the reports that the working group included in the collection also related to agencies’ compliance with an executive order from former President Donald Trump on combating race and sex stereotyping, which President Joe Biden revoked on his first day in office.
The now-rescinded EO previously banned agencies from creating training, workshops, forums or similar programming that teaches or advocates “divisive concepts,” such as “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex,” and “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
Although the working group, and the OIG community as a whole, are trying to push forward more DEIA initiatives, there are obstacles to achieving those goals. Notably, unfilled IG positions across the government pose a risk to the OIG community’s ability to effectively function, the working group said.
“A significant number or extended period of IG vacancies among the membership also has an obvious impact on the ability of CIGIE to achieve consensus on community-wide efforts,” CIGIE’s strategic plan said.