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Special Emphasis Program

What is the Special Emphasis Program?

Special Emphasis Programs (SEPs) are an integral part of Equal Employment Opportunity. The purpose of these programs is to ensure that agencies take affirmative steps to provide equal opportunity to minorities, women and people with disabilities in all areas of employment. The term, "Special Emphasis Programs," refers specifically to employment related programs which focus special attention on groups that are conspicuously absent or underrepresented in a specific occupational category or grade level in the agency's work force. These programs serve as a channel to management officials. The goals of the Special Emphasis Program include:

Improve employment and advancement opportunities for minorities, women and people with disabilities in the Federal service

Identify systemic barriers to opportunity for minorities, women and people with disabilities

Seek ways to help minorities, women and people with disabilities to advance by using their skills more fully

Monitor agency progress in eliminating discrimination and adverse impact on minorities, women and people with disabilities in employment and agency programs

Educate Federal employees and managers about the extent of various forms of discrimination within the Federal Service


Special Emphasis Program Managers (SEPMs)

Special Emphasis Program Managers are members of the management team. They participate in the review of agency policies, practices, and procedures in order to help eliminate any that discriminate against minorities, women and people with disabilities. SEP Managers also analyze information and data and present recommendations to improve all aspects of employment as they relate to targeted groups. These Managers serve as subject matter experts, staff advisors, fact finders, sources of information and program advocates. SEPMs perform many functions including but not limited to the following: 

Keep managers and key personnel aware of program goals, objectives and accomplishments

Perform liaison between recruiters and organizations which can assist in recruitment efforts and activities

Develop and maintain positive working relationships with community, professional and national organizations, college and universities

Publicize program goals, objectives and successful initiatives


Special Emphasis Observances and Authority

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday (January) - Public Law 98-144 established a federal legal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., which is celebrated on the third Monday in January of each year.

African-American/Black History Month (February) - First Presidential Proclamation: February 1976.

Women’s History Month (March) - Authority: Public Law 100-9, March 1987.

Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust (April/May) -  The United States Holocaust Memorial Council (USHMC) was established in 1980 by Public Law 96-388.

Asian Pacific-American Heritage Month (May) -  US Code Title 36—Ceremonies, and Organizations Sec. 169k.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month (June) -  Presidential Proclamation, May 31, 2011

Women’s Equality Day (August 26) -  On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was certified as part of the U.S. Constitution.

Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15) -  Authority: Public Law 100-402, August 1988

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October) -  Authority: 36 USC 121

American Indian Heritage Month (November) - • Authority/comment: Public Law 102-188, March 1992

Do you have questions regarding the Special Emphasis Program? Contact the CNIC HQ EEO office by phone, individuals call (202) 433-8229 and leave a message; or they can send an email.

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