Re: OMB circular M-20-34, “Training in the Federal Government,” and the September 22nd Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping

October 1, 2020
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell    

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
 
Chairman Richard Shelby, Senate Committee on Appropriations

Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, Senate Committee on Appropriations
 
Speaker Nancy Pelosi    

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
 
Chairwoman Nita Lowey, House Committee on Appropriations

Ranking Member Kay Granger, House Committee on Appropriations

October 1, 2020

Dear Senators and Representatives:

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters across the country, we write with deep concern about -- and strong opposition to -- the September 4th 2020 OMB circular M-20-34, “Training in the Federal Government,” and the related September 22nd 2020 Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping. These directives are beginning to have a damaging and chilling impact on agency efforts to address prejudice, workplace harassment, discrimination, and related challenges. Among other impacts, the cancelation of trainings threatens to interfere with remediation of pending Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) claims and to make some employees who have experienced workplace discrimination feel less capable of getting needed support. Unfortunately, the initiative to stifle trainings is now going far beyond federal agencies themselves.

For the reasons outlined below, we urge that a final FY21 appropriations vehicle or any other moving vehicle in the remainder of this Congress prevent any federal funding from being used to implement these directives, which threaten to have a crippling effect on agencies including those that steward public health and our environment, as well as the contractors who coordinate with them and grant recipients who support their missions to serve the public.

There are many challenges that workplace trainings seek to address. Many of the agencies that protect public health and our land, air, water, wildlife and cultural resources lack diversity, particularly at the managerial level. Recruitment and retention efforts that may help shift this dynamic can benefit from employees across the agencies being educated on the societal challenges, human behaviors and intentional or unintentional discriminatory practices that contribute to these patterns. This includes but is not limited to EEO training. One need look no further than the high-profile cases of sexual harassment and discrimination at the National Park Service to recognize the importance of managers having the discretion to pursue these trainings.

Environmental agencies also face relevant challenges not just within their workforce but in their missions and the impacts the agencies have on communities. This includes, for example, the disproportionate impact of polluting industries on communities of color, with profound public health impacts now exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic. Visitation to our national parks lacks the diversity that reflects the American public, with numerous barriers to access. Low income communities and communities of color also face disproportionate challenges in access to community parks and other environmental amenities.

The circular and EO have already led to interagency memos that are creating employee and manager confusion. In particular, the National Park Service has indefinitely stopped EEO, sexual harassment, tribal consultation, and disability discrimination training to ensure it is in compliance with the OMB circular. This is having a chilling effect on efforts to train employees on a diversity of issues not necessarily limited to race or privilege. Also put on hold are different workforce development leadership trainings such as those addressing conflict resolution and discriminatory structures in the workplace. The orders’ directives do not only apply to federal agencies, but to contractors and grant recipients, many of whom are proactively seeking to address these workplace issues. Contracts can be denied and grants rescinded if the applicable nongovernmental organizations engage in training.

Federal agencies, contractors and grant recipients, including but not limited to those that regulate and oversee public health and environmental protections, deserve better. We respectfully call on you to support these entities’ engagement in training they deem appropriate and necessary to try to enhance awareness of diversity, harassment and discrimination challenges, employee morale, opportunities for advancement, workplace culture and more.

The civil service and its contractors and grant recipients should have the opportunity to pursue the management and training excellence that is available in the private sector. We ask you to include a provision in a final FY21 appropriations omnibus or other moving vehicle in the remainder of this Congress a provision halting implementation of this regressive OMB circular and EO.

Thank you for considering our views.

Sincerely,

 

Alaska Wilderness League

Action Alliance for the Great Lakes

American Hiking Society

American Littoral Society

American Rivers

American Society of Landscape Architects

Appalachian Mountain Club

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Archaeology Southwest

Arizona Trail Association

Association for Experiential Education

Association of Nature Center Administrators

Avid4 Adventure

Berks Nature

Brown People Camping

Bucks County Audubon Society

Business for Montana's Outdoors

Capital Region Land Conservancy

Chispa Arizona, League of Conservation Voters

Clark Fork Coalition

Clean Water Action

Clean Wisconsin

Coalición de Derechos Humanos

Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection

Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed

Coalition to Protect America's National Parks

Confluence (confluenceproject.org)

Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Conservation Minnesota

Continental Divide Trail Coalition

Defenders of Wildlife

Defensores de la Cuenca

Delaware Highlands Conservancy

Delaware Nature Society

Dogwood Alliance

Earthjustice

Endangered Species Coalition

Environmental Defense Fund

Environmental Justice Center of Chestnut Hill United Church

Environmental Law & Policy Center

Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition

For Love of Water (FLOW)

FracTracker Alliance

Friends of Fort McHenry

Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space

Glen Canyon Conservancy

Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Greenpeace USA

Green-Rock Audubon Society

Illinois Environmental Council

Indiana Wildlife Federation

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

International Fund for Animal Welfare

IslandWood

Izaak Walton League, Public Lands Committee

John Burroughs Association, Inc.

John Muir Project

Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership

Latino Outdoors

League of Conservation Voters

Maine Environmental Education Association

Michigan League of Conservation Voters

Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers & Outdoors Partners

Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Milwaukee Water Commons

Mississippi Park Connection

Montana Wilderness Association

Mount Rushmore Society

MountainTrue

National Aquarium

National Audubon Society

National Parks Conservation Association

National Recreation and Park Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural History Institute

Natural Resources Defense Council

New Jersey Audubon

New Jersey Environmental Lobby

New Jersey Highlands Coalition

New Mexico Wildlife Federation

NJ Sustainable Business Council

North American Association for Environmental Education

North Cascades Institute

NW Energy Coalition

Olympic Park Associates

Onondaga Audubon

Oregon Wild

Otsego County Conservation Association

PennFuture

Pinelands Preservation Alliance

Religious Coalition for the Great Lakes

River Alliance of Wisconsin

Rockland Conservation & Service Corps

Rocky Mountain Conservancy

San Juan Citizens Alliance

Save Our Canyons

Save Our wild Salmon Coalition

Sierra Club

Sky Island Alliance

SOS Outreach

St. Croix River Association

The Corps Network

The Mission Continues

The Mountaineers

The Wilderness Society

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

United States Tour Operators Association

Upper Gila Watershed Alliance

Utah Clean Energy

Valley Forge Park Alliance

Voyageurs National Park Association

Washington Conservation Voters

Washington Environmental Council

Washington Trails Association

Washington WIld

WaterNow Alliance

Western Colorado Alliance

Western Resource Advocates

Western Slope Conservation Center

Western Watersheds Project

Winter Wildlands Alliance

CC:

Sen. Murkowski, Chair, Senate Energy and Natural Resources and Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

Sen. Manchin, Ranking Member, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Sen. Udall, Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

Sen. Alexander, Chair, Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

Sen. Feinstein, Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

Sen. Barrasso, Chair, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

Sen. Carper, Ranking Member, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

Rep. McCollum, Chair, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

Rep. Granger, Ranking Member, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

Rep. Kaptur, Chair, Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies

Rep. Simpson, Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies

Rep. Grijalva, Chair, House Committee on Natural Resources

Rep. Bishop, Ranking Member, House Committee on Natural Resources

Rep. Pallone, Chair, House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Rep. Walden, House Committee on Energy and Commerce

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