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Special Emphasis Programs

Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity

Special Emphasis Programs

In 1972, Congress amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend the Act’s anti-discrimination protections to Federal employees.  Government agencies with responsibility for implementing the Act began to focus increased attention on underrepresented groups in the Federal workforce, such as racial/ethnic minorities, women, and individuals with disabilities, including disabled veterans.  One way in which this was done was through the establishment of Special Emphasis Programs (SEPs). 

SEPs have been authorized since the late 1960s and 1970s by Executive Branch regulations and Presidential Executive Orders for the purposes of helping underrepresented groups enter into the Federal workforce, develop professionally, and advance within its ranks.   The basic U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulatory provision on SEPs states that each agency shall:

Designate a Director of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO Director), EEO Officer(s), and such Special Emphasis Program Managers (e.g., People With Disabilities Program, Federal Women’s Program and Hispanic Employment Program)… as may be necessary to carry out the functions described in this part in all organizational units of the agency and at all agency installations.

NASA has designated seven special emphasis programs: the African American Program, Hispanic Employment Program, Federal Women’s Program, Asian American/Pacific Islander Program, American Indian/Alaska Native Program, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Queer, and Individuals with Disabilities Program.

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