Social equity—a key pillar of public administration alongside economy, efficiency, and effectiveness—addresses fairness, justice, and equity within a variety of public contexts. Although the United States has made significant progress in expanding access to opportunities to more of the nation’s citizens and residents, we continue to struggle with ensuring the equitable design and implementation of public policies and programs that reduce or eliminate disparities, discrimination, and marginalization. Much remains to be done to address the substantial social and economic disparities in 21st Century America, such as:
All of these disparities not only harm the individuals and families who directly experience them, but also impose substantial and increasing costs on the overall economy and society.
Public agencies and administrators have a critical role to play in addressing this Grand Challenge. They must work in partnership with elected officials to address social equity issues by bringing problems to the attention of policymakers, making recommendations on the basis of their deep expertise and extensive citizen engagement, and exercising lawful discretion to promote and ensure social equity within agencies and programs. Moving forward, public administrators and policymakers should develop a broader understanding of the elements and implications of social equity. For example, social equity includes not just equitable access to programs and services but the unhindered ability to engage in the political process. It also means equitable educational and economic opportunities. Ultimately, it is important to use a social equity lens to examine nearly all policies and practices, and there are major social equity dimensions of each of the other Grand Challenges in Public Administration that should be addressed moving forward.
As part of the Grand Challenge to “Foster Social Equity,” the Academy will work with stakeholders to determine how to:
This is an illustrative list of topics. As the Grand Challenges campaign kicks off and progresses, other issues can and will be addressed based on stakeholder feedback about critical needs and opportunities.