The Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) version of the fiscal 2022 defense authorization bill includes a provision by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that would require defense contractors to disclose all diversity training materials–a policy that may pose implementation problems for the companies, if it becomes law.
“Effective immediately, each contractor who enters or has entered into a contract with the Department of Defense to provide goods or services shall make publicly available online at its website all diversity, equal opportunity, equity, inclusion, or tolerance training materials or internal policies, including syllabi, online sources, suggested reading lists, guest speakers and lecturers, instructor lists, internal policy memos, workshop descriptions, outside organizational funding, or other educational or professional materials for review and identification of Critical Race Theory [CRT] or similar theoretical instruction in a timely manner,” according to Section 818(a) of the SASC bill. “Should the contractor have no online presence, the contractor shall provide the materials in hard copy format to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment in a timely manner.”
Defense contractors said that they have often used subcontractors to provide diversity training in the last 30 years and that such training could be proprietary to those subcontractors. Section 818(a) and (b) of the SASC bill do not address subcontractor proprietary training information, and Cotton’s office did not respond by press time on Nov. 9 as to what Cotton would propose, in the event that subcontractors deem training materials proprietary and do not release the materials.
A June 2 letter from Cotton to Lockheed Martin [LMT] CEO Jim Taiclet criticized CRT trainings as not abiding by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Lockheed Martin has said that it does not use CRT in the diversity trainings.
In a June 4 response to Cotton, Taiclet wrote that he was unable to provide Cotton with diversity training materials, as Cotton requested, because “Lockheed Martin does not own the training materials used by these vendors.”
“Thus, we are not able to release this proprietary information without their approval,” Taiclet wrote.
“Lockheed Martin diversity training fully complies with federal law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex,” per Taiclet’s June 4 letter to Cotton. “Lockheed Martin based no employment action on the training, no participant in the training was promoted, demoted, or terminated based on the training.”
CRT, a 40-year-old concept which has generated sharp opposition from social conservatives, holds that the laws and procedures of key institutions, including the criminal justice system, health care system, education system, labor market, and housing market have led to different outcomes by race and that white citizens have a responsibility to act to reduce barriers for minorities to satisfy the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
On Sept. 4 last year, Russell Vought, the director of the White Office Office of Management and Budget under former President Trump, sent to federal agency heads a memorandum banning the use of federal funds for such trainings, and Trump later that month issued Executive Order 13950. The latter criticized trainings by Argonne National Laboratories and Sandia National Laboratories and said that “it shall be the policy of the United States not to promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in the federal workforce or in the uniformed services, and not to allow grant funds to be used for these purposes.”
“In addition, federal contractors will not be permitted to inculcate such views in their employees,” the executive order said. President Biden reversed Executive Order 13950 on his first day in office through the issuance of Executive Order 13985.
Defense contractors have said that they use a wide variety of training materials not specific to CRT.
Opponents of CRT, including Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, have suggested that all diversity trainings reflect CRT.