Skip to main content
ARS Home » Office of Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity » Special Emphasis Program

Special Emphasis Program
headline bar
Office of Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity (ODEO)

Our Programs

The Special Emphasis Program

The Special Emphasis Program acts as a conduit for communication between the workforce and management, seeking to create a climate of understanding and cooperation. We analyze statistical data concerning the composition of the workforce. We analyze by organization, type of position, and grade of positions in order to identify barriers in those areas which minorities, women and individuals with disabilities are significantly underrepresented. We study issues involved in complaints of discrimination in order to identify patterns of practices, attitudes and other problem areas that result in the denial of equal opportunity for minorities, women, and the disabled in employment, promotion, training, awards, retention and recognition. Our specialists provide leadership to assure equal employment opportunity for persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability or religion. Finally, our staff assists in the development and execution of affirmative employment goals and establishes timetables for accomplishments of those goals.


American Indian/Alaskan Native Program

Former President George W. Bush reaffirmed the previous administration's Native American Program of Support for Tribal Colleges and Universities in Executive Order 13270. He reiterated the unique relationship between the United States and the Indian tribes and also acknowledged the special relationship between the United States and Alaskan Natives. Bush also declared this Nation's commitment to opportunity extends to NA/ANs, and he expects this order will provide job training and other career-building programs for NA/AN. 

Contact Debra Owens-Coleman, or (979) 220-8043 for more information


Asian American/Pacific Islander Employment Program

Department of Defense Directive 1440.1 authorizes the establishment of the A/PI Program as an integral part of the civilian equal employment opportunity program. Executive Order (E.O.) 13216 amended E.O. 13125 to increase opportunity and improve the quality of life of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AA/PI) through increased participation in Federal programs where they may be under served. The Executive Order establishes the President's Advisory Commission on AA/PIs, and a Federal Interagency Working Group on AA/PIs.

Contact Debra Owens-Coleman, or (979) 220-8043 for more information


Black Employment Program

This program was strengthened through Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, which established the EEO Program. It is the policy of the Federal government to provide equal opportunity in employment to all individuals regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability, or age. The Black Special Emphasis Program was established to increase the representation of African Americans throughout the workforce.

Contact Debra Owens-Coleman, or (979) 220-8043 for more information


Disability Employment Program

Executive Order 13078 established the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities to reduce employment barriers. Executive Order 13164 promotes a Federal workplace that provides reasonable accommodation for employees and applicants with disabilities. Executive Order 13187 established the President's Disability Employment Partnership Board. People with disabilities can be hired through the traditional competitive hiring process or, if they qualify, noncompetitively through the use of excepted service appointing authorities. Excepted service appointments for the disabled were developed to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to circumvent the attitudinal barriers.

Contact Mary Weber, or Office:  (301) 504-1397 for more information.


 Federal Women's Employment Program

In 1967, Executive Order 11375 added gender to the list of prohibited discrimination such as race, color, religion, and national origin. In response to this, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) established the Federal Women's Program (FWP). In 1969, Executive Order 11478 integrated the FWP into the EEO Program and placed it under the direction of EEO for each agency. OPM regulations require that Federal agencies designate a FWP manager to advise the EEO officer on matters affecting the employment and advancement of women. This law also requires that Federal agencies allocate sufficient resources for their Federal Women's Programs.

Contact Debra Owens-Coleman, or (979) 220-8043 for more information


Hispanic Employment Program

On October 12, 2000, President William J. Clinton signed Executive Order 13171 affirming the need to improve the representation of Hispanics in Federal employment. The Executive Order notes that Hispanics remain underrepresented in the Federal ranks, making up only 6.4 percent of the Federal civilian workforce. This is roughly half of their total representation in the civilian labor force. The executive order affirms ongoing policies and recommends additional ones to eliminate this underrepresentation and call for the head of each executive department and agency to establish and maintain a program for the recruitment and career development of Hispanics in Federal employment. The agency programs should include a recruitment plan, efforts to assess and eliminate any systemic barriers to the effective recruitment and consideration of Hispanics for Federal jobs, improved outreach efforts, developmental opportunities, and accountability. In accordance with the provisions in Executive Order 13171, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) established an Interagency Task Force composed of agency officials at the Deputy Secretary level, or their equivalent, to represent each major Federal department and independent agency. This Interagency Task Force provides the cooperative framework for implementing Executive Order 13171 throughout the Federal Government. OPM issues an annual report with findings and recommendations to the President on the progress made by agencies on matters related to this order.

Contact Debra Owens-Coleman, or (979) 220-8043 for more information


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Program

In April 1993, USDA Secretary Mike Espy issued the Department's EEO and Civil Rights Policy Statement, which specifically prohibited discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation.  June 2009 saw Secretary Vilsack signing Department Regulation 4230-002 creating a Special Emphasis Program for LGBT employees.  In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States v. Windsor, ruled that Section 3 of DOMA, providing that for all purposes under federal law, marriage would be defined only as the union of one man and one woman, was unconstitutional, thus opening the way for granting of federal benefits to married same-sex couples.  Workplace issues today include Heterosexism (institutionalized homophobia), fear, harassment, and hostile work environments.  Where diversity is recognized and respected, overall employee morale goes up and commitments to LBT equality tend to reinforce other commitments to equality.

Contact Debra Owens-Coleman, or (979) 220-8043 for more information


Special Emphasis Program Observances: