Promoting Opportunity through Impact Statements: A Tool for Policymakers to Assess Equity

Author(s): 
Alan Jenkins, Juhu Thukral, Kevin Hsu, Nerissa Kunakemakorn, and Megan Haberle
Publication Date: 
April 19, 2012

ACS is pleased to distribute “Promoting Opportunity through Impact Statements: A Tool for Policymakers to Assess Equity,” an Issue Brief by The Opportunity Agenda Executive Director Alan Jenkins and his staff. In this Issue Brief, the authors recommend that administrative agencies use Opportunity Impact Statements (OIS) to evaluate government funded projects for compliance with equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws like Title VI. They suggest that by making an agency fully cognizant of its civil rights compliance, an OIS could significantly improve access to quality employment, education, housing, transportation, and healthcare.

The authors use post-Hurricane Katrina reconstruction efforts, which included failed employment and housing policies, as an example of how Opportunity Impact Statements would better “determine how taxpayer funds should be deployed after a cataclysmic disaster with deep racial and socioeconomic implication.” In describing the OIS process and benefits, the Issue Brief suggests “government agencies will have the structure available to appropriately analyze the benefits and burdens that a publicly funded project might have … and reallocate funds in ways that increase opportunity and adhere with existing civil rights mandates.”

The Issue Brief includes specific discussion around potential OIS use by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, identifying transportation and housing as “two areas of crucial importance in furthering access to opportunity.” Alan Jenkins and his staff conclude: “[t]he Opportunity Impact Statement is intended to bring the voice of affected communities, structured efficiency, and balanced analysis to the table in the context of opportunity.”