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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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

Our Programs

The Special Emphasis ProgramThe 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.


Asian American/Pacific Islander Employment ProgramDepartment 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 Debby Vandergrift (acting), (202) 720-6161 for more information


Black Employment ProgramThis 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 Jenny Allen, (301) 504-6507 for more information.


Disability Employment ProgramExecutive 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 Ward, (202) 720-6161 for more information.


Federal Women's Employment ProgramIn 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 Tonya Morris, (301) 504-4339 for more information.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender ProgramIn 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.

Vacant, contact ODEO office, (202) 720-6161 for more information


American Indian/Alaskan Native ProgramFormer 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. 

Vacant, contact ODEO office, (202) 720-6161 for more information


Special Emphasis Observances:

National African American History Month (February)

--2017 National African American History Month Proclamation


Women's History Month (March)

--2016 Women's History Month Proclamation


Asian American Heritage Month (May)

--2016 Asian American Heritage Month Proclamation


Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Pride Month (June)

--2016 Pride - Presidential Proclamation

--2016 Pride - Event Poster


Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th to October 15th)

--2016 Hispanic Heritage Month Proclamation

--2016 Hispanic Heritage Month Event Poster


National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October)

--2016 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Proclamation

--2016 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Event Poster


National American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month (November)


Monthly Department-Wide Observances

Last Modified: 2/13/2017
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