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Office of Resolution Management, Diversity & Inclusion (ORMDI)


Special Emphasis Program Observances Toolkit

Special Emphasis Program Observances Toolkit

Special Emphasis Program observances are an important part of SEPs. SEP Managers (SEPMs or equivalents) should encourage their facility or organization to appreciate diversity through activities geared towards raising awareness, highlighting achievements, increasing knowledge, and addressing any identified barriers to the full employment and inclusion of all members of society within VA.

Observances (VA SEP Observances Memo [PDF])

ORMDI provides this SEP Observances Toolkit as guidance to field facilities on implementing activities for special observances, including the following:

  • Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15)
  • National Black History Month (February)
  • Women’s History Month (March)
  • Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31)
  • Federal Inter-Agency Holocaust Remembrance Program (April)
  • Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May)
  • Pride Month (June)
  • Juneteenth (June 19)
  • Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (July 26)
  • Women’s Equality Day (August 26)
  • National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15)
  • National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October)
  • Disability Mentoring Day (third Wednesday in October)
  • National Native American Heritage Month (November)
  • Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20)

This toolkit is provided as a general guide to planning special observance events or ceremonies:

Special Observance Authorities

Activities sponsored by SEPs are sanctioned under the following authorities:

The Comptroller General, in two landmark decisions (B-200017 [PDF], March 10, 1981, and B199387, March 23, 1982), allows expenditures at agency-sponsored cultural awareness events, appropriate funds for guest speakers, artistic and/or cultural activities, food exhibits or samples (not intended for meals or refreshments),or publications, when the intent is to promote cross-cultural harmony and awareness.  Where applicable, the International Merchant Purchase Authorization Card (IMPAC) or IMPAC convenience checks may be used for the limited scope of purchasing food items for sampling or exhibits at the agency-sponsored cultural awareness events.

EEO Directors and Managers should take the appropriate steps to ensure compliance with 29 Code of Federal Regulation, Part 1614.102(b)(4).  SEPMs and committee members should not be expected to finance EEO Program activities with personal funds or via bake sales.

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