Biden Signs Dozens of EOs in First Weeks as President
February 3, 2021
Since taking office on January 20th, President Biden has issued dozens of Executive Orders (EOs) on a wide range of topics — COVID-19, climate change, criminal detention agencies, to name a few — many revoking EOs issued by the former administration. The full list is on The White House site and in the Federal Registry. Below are several EOs particularly relevant to FABBS members.
- President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) – This EO established an advisory council on science, technology, and innovation revoking a previous EO of October 2019 addressing the composition and purpose of PCAST. “It is the policy of my Administration to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data. Officials and employees across my Administration shall seek from scientists, engineers, and other experts the best available scientific and technological information and advice.”
- Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking – This memo is intended to bolster scientific integrity policies across agencies, building on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018. It assigns to the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy the primary responsibility for scientific integrity across the government and it places a particular emphasis on preventing “improper political interference,” principally through a new interagency task force that will identify instances where scientific integrity policy violations have led to “suppression or distortion” of data and findings. The memo also requires science agencies to designate a “chief science officer” and all agencies to designate a separate “scientific integrity official” to monitor the implementation and improvement of these policies.
- Protecting the Federal Workforce – This EO reverses one issued by former President Trump that made it easier to fire top career civil servants and hire political appointees into high-ranking positions. The scientific community had actively opposed the “Schedule F” category, expressing concern that it was intended to facilitate the firing of federal staff with evidence and political opinions that did not align with opinions of the administration. The Biden White House explained that it “undermines the foundations of the civil service.”
- Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Federal Regulation – With this memo, Biden revoked the Trump EO on the Federal Advisory Committee Act that ordered agencies to cut one-third of their federal advisory committees as well as the EO that required any agency issuing a new regulation to rescind two existing ones.
- Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation and Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. These EOs established a government-wide “equity agenda” to prevent and combat ‘discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.’ These EOs revoked a confusing Trump EO that banned certain diversity inclusion trainings by federal agencies and contractors.
- Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers – This EO includes an emphasis on providing evidence-based guidance to mitigate learning loss and to understand the impact of the pandemic on education. The EO specifies the collection of data to fully understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators, including data on the status of in-person learning, with disaggregation.
- Executive Order on the Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities Immigration – Biden has reversed a number of Trump’s immigration restrictions — including ending the ban on entry to the U.S. from specified countries, many of which have majority-Muslim populations, and restoring support for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy — the scientific community had expressed concerns about the impact on foreign born researcher and of science international collaboration.