Biden Spends Taxpayer Funds To Address Burning Question: Is the Construction Industry Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive?

It isn't, according to a survey that cost nearly $90,000

Carpenters work on building new townhomes in Tampa, Florida, U.S., May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Octavio Jones
April 27, 2023

The Biden administration spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to determine whether the construction industry is sufficiently diverse, equitable, and inclusive. It isn't, the survey found.

President Joe Biden's General Services Administration in November released the survey's "powerful" findings, which highlighted the glaring need for construction companies "to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in their industry." While the federal agency did not include the survey's cost in the release, a contract obtained by the Washington Free Beacon shows that the "DEI Survey and Report" cost taxpayers nearly $90,000.

Biden has issued a slew of executive orders on diversity, equity, and inclusion, which require federal agencies to implement "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Strategic Plans" in an effort to advance "equity for all." The General Services Administration said it commissioned its construction industry survey as a result of those orders. In the subsequent report, agency administrator Robin Carnahan said the effort is part of a push to ensure federal contractors—not just the federal government—embrace Biden's equity "vision."

"GSA can't do this work alone; we need partners—including architects, contractors, and others—who fully understand that DEIA advances the federal government's mission and is good business," Carnahan said in the report. "The data-driven report shows that there is much more work to do."

For Carnahan, a Democrat who served as Missouri's secretary of state from 2005 to 2013, that work includes advancement "in areas such as recruiting, empowering, and advancing a diverse workforce." Nearly half of construction companies, the agency's release laments, were grouped into the survey's "low to no engagement" category when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, stressing the need to "advance equity in architecture and construction." Still, Carnahan identified some bright spots—diversity, equity, and inclusion training, the Biden appointee's report says, "is becoming a norm for the industry."

The General Services Administration, which did not return a request for comment, manages transportation, office space, and other logistics for the federal agencies. Its focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion could prompt accusations that it is more concerned with a federal contractor's politics than its job performance. Prominent Republicans have long argued as much, with former Trump administration secretary of state Mike Pompeo saying last month that equity programs "erode the American commitment to the dignity of hard work."

"The fairness of playing by the rules is abrogated when government steps in and awards bonuses to people based on something other than the fact that they worked hard and were decent and good," Pompeo said. "And more importantly, it erodes the fundamental decency—the goodness of doing what is right every day."

Biden's diversity, equity, and inclusion push has extended far beyond the General Services Administration. Biden's American Rescue Plan Act, for example, launched a $3.8 billion Department of Agriculture relief program that aimed to pay up to 120 percent of loans for farmers and ranchers of color. A federal judge halted that program in June 2021, saying it "discriminate[d] against farmers because of their race or national origin." Biden's Treasury Department, meanwhile, created in October 2021 a "counselor for racial equity" who is meant to "advance equity and advise the Treasury Department on all racial equity policy issues and programs."

Published under: Biden Administration , DEI