Executive Order

Executive Order  No. 612: Instituting the Practice of Equity Assessment Government-Wide and Creating the Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee on Increasing Equity Through Data

Date: 05/05/2023
Issuer: Maura Healey
Mass Register: No. 1496

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth’s greatest strength is its people;

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth cannot reach its full potential as a state while its people are held back from reaching their own;

WHEREAS, in our nation and in our Commonwealth, inequities continue to persist along many lines, including lines of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, class, economic status, physical and mental ability, geography, religion, and veteran status, and more;

WHEREAS, access and equity drives our approach to providing Commonwealth programs, services, and opportunities;

WHEREAS, equity assessment is a systematic process for analysis that considers the equity impacts of existing policies, practices, and programs, as well as proposed actions and decisions;

WHEREAS, gathering and analyzing data about what we are doing can give us the insights we need to imagine what we could do;

WHEREAS, the ongoing practice of performing equity assessments, to identify the positive and negative effects of policies, programs, actions, and decisions, holds the potential to reveal alternative steps that could be taken to advance equity and avoid perpetuating inequity; 

WHEREAS, every day, Commonwealth programs provide services that have the potential to enrich the lives of its people;

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth can rely on data and statistics during the practice of equity assessments to increase equity through its programs ;

WHEREAS, the practice of performing equity assessments must be intentional, on-going, and supported by staff and resources;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Maura T. Healey, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § I, Art. I, do hereby order as follows:

Section 1:  Instituting the Practice of Equity Assessment Government-Wide

It shall be the practice of all Executive Department agencies to intentionally and regularly perform equity assessments on an ongoing basis.  In order to achieve equity, each Executive Department must confront and understand where there are gaps in the programs and services the Department provides or inequitable obstacles to full participation that the Department could lessen. Departments’ practices must be informed by data and the determination to increase equity at every opportunity.

For purposes of this Executive Order, the term “Executive Department agencies” includes any executive office of the Commonwealth, as defined by section 2 of chapter 6A of the General Laws, and any agency, bureau, department, office, or division of the Commonwealth within or reporting to such executive office.

Section 2:  Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee on Increasing Equity Through Data

There is hereby established an Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee on Increasing Equity Through Data (the “Coordinating Committee”) within the Office of the Governor.  

(a.)    Mandate.  The Coordinating Committee shall support agencies as they institutionalize the practice of equity assessment on an on-going basis

(b.)    Leadership. The Coordinating Committee shall be overseen by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Access and Engagement within the Office of the Governor.

(c.)    Sub-committees.  The Coordinating Committee shall have at least two sub-committees: the Program Management Sub-Committee and the Sub-Committee on Data.  The Deputy Chief of Staff for Access and Engagement may direct the formation of additional subcommittees to advance the work and objectives of the Coordinating Committee.

(d.)    Composition.  The Secretary of each Executive Office and the Climate Chief shall each be a member of the Coordinating Committee and shall designate three additional representatives to participate in the work of the Committee.

i. Each Secretary and the Climate Chief shall participate in executive level meetings of the committee to be held at least twice annually;

ii. Each Secretary and the Climate Chief shall also designate one other member of their staff to be their designee to the Coordinating Committee, which designee shall regularly attend and participate in all meetings of the Coordinating Committee, including both executive level and non-executive level meetings of the Coordinating Committee;

iii. Each Secretary shall designate a representative with significant program management experience to serve on the Program Management Sub-Committee.; and

iv. Each Secretary shall designate at least one data scientist or data analyst to serve on the Sub-Committee on Data.   

v. Secretaries and the Climate Chief are encouraged to identify additional individuals from within their organizations or consultants to serve as members of the Coordinating Committee or its sub-committees at the discretion of the Secretary or Chief.

(e.) Meetings.  The Coordinating Committee shall meet on an as needed basis but shall meet no less than once per month.  The Coordinating Committee shall hold at least two executive level meetings each year, at which each Secretary and the Climate Chief shall participate.

(f.) Consultation. The Coordinating Committee shall regularly consult with and seek advice from Governor’s Committees formed to provide the Governor with advice concerning the empowerment of historically disadvantaged groups; the prevention of abuse, exploitation, and harassment; or the advancement of equity and equality.

(g.) Reporting.  At the first executive level meeting of the year, the Coordinating Committee shall identify a broad set of programs for assessment.  At the last executive level meeting of the year, the Coordinating Committee shall receive a report detailing results of each assessment performed during that program year.

(h.) Responsibilities.  The Coordinating Committee shall be responsible for

i. Developing a systematic process for analyzing the reach of Commonwealth programs to determine who our programs are serving, identify any barriers to participation, assess the equity impact of program hiring and spending practices, and assess the equity impact of potential changes to the programs;

ii. Giving content and definition to the term “equity” in context to ensure that assessments are specific and meaningful;

iii. Selecting programs for assessment and establishing assessment priorities;

iv. Articulating a set of core outputs of assessment to facilitate the standardization of data, definitions, and parameters, and defining any program specific metrics for additional assessment;

v. Coordinating, supporting, and tracking data collection and analysis by each agency;

vi. Documenting findings, developing clear problem statements to frame any challenges, defining the resources and expertise needed to find and implement potential solution, and assessing the equity impact of each alternative; 

vii. Facilitating and, where appropriate, centralizing the ongoing tracking and disclosure of data as a practice to promote and support efforts to increase equity and

viii. Recommending to the Governor changes that could be made or steps that could be taken to increase equity and reduce inequitable barriers to participation.

(i.) Initial Assessments.  Each Executive Office shall complete an initial round of equity assessments no later than July 1, 2024.

Section 3:  Extending Equity Assessment to Additional Governmental Offices.  

Independent agencies and authorities, public institutions of higher education, other constitutional offices, the judiciary, and other public entities are encouraged to work with the Coordinating Committee to participate in equity assessment initiatives and otherwise to adopt practices consistent with those advanced by the Coordinating Committee. 

Section 4:  Additional Provisions.

Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to require action inconsistent with any applicable state or federal law. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately and shall continue in effect until amended, superseded, or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.

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