NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA)

About the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for DEIA

The Fiscal Years 2023–2027 NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) (the Plan) articulates NIH’s commitment to embracing, strengthening, and integrating DEIA across all NIH activities to achieve the agency’s mission. It represents one facet of NIH’s stewardship of federal dollars and contributes to maintaining transparency and accountability to its community.

As NIH works to turn discovery into health, the agency recognizes that principles of DEIA are intrinsic to the achievement of better health for all. This Plan prioritizes NIH’s role as a people-centered organization by uplifting its community and articulating NIH’s vision for enhancing DEIA in its operations, workforce, and research. The Plan demonstrates NIH’s commitment to integrating the principles of DEIA into all of its processes, policies, and programs. It also includes approaches to advance DEIA within NIH and the broader biomedical and behavioral research enterprise, including within its workforce and through the research it supports.

NIH created a two-page overview that summarizes the content of the Plan.

NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for DEIA Framework

The Framework of the Fiscal Years 2023–2027 NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for DEIA is harmonized to the Framework of the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2021–2025, with NIH’s DEIA priorities organized around accomplishments, needs, opportunities, and challenges in three key areas or Objectives—Operations, Workforce, and Research—and their underlying subobjectives. For each subobjective, goals are identified, along with strategies to achieve these goals. To illustrate the types of activities that may drive progress toward each goal, a sampling of new and ongoing activities is included under many of the strategies. This is not a comprehensive list of all the activities currently underway at NIH; it is anticipated that implementation of the Plan will build on those ongoing activities and introduce many new approaches toward achieving the objectives, goals, and strategies outlined in this Plan over the next 5 years. There are also three Crosscutting Themes—promoting transparency, communication, and engagement; fostering sustainable change; and harnessing data—which are common approaches across all objectives of the Plan that are integral to realizing NIH’s vision.

Strategic Planning Process

The Plan was developed by a working group with members from every NIH Institute and Center and many Offices within the Office of the Director to represent the range of NIH’s activities and research portfolio. Comprised of more than 100 people, the working group was co-chaired by NIH’s Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity; the Director of the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; and the Director of the Office of Human Resources. It was coordinated by the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives. Internal and external feedback on the proposed framework for the Plan was gathered through a Request for Information and webinar. Additionally, an inventory of more than 1,700 NIH DEIA activities was developed, a sampling of which are included as illustrative examples throughout the Plan.

In October 2021, NIH began developing the Plan to cover fiscal years 2023-2027. The process was designed to be transparent, grounded in DEIA, focused on science and good stewardship of research, guided by evidence, and informed by NIH’s many community members.

The strategic planning process entailed five phases: (1) pre-planning; (2) developing the Plan framework; (3) gathering input from internal and external community members; (4) refining the framework, selecting content, and drafting text; and (5) finalizing and publishing the Plan. The following are key activities undertaken during these five phases.

The NIH Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) was charged in 2021 to work with NIH’s Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD); the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion(EDI); and the Office of Human Resources (OHR) to develop an NIH-wide strategic plan for DEIA.

At the initiation of this process, DPCPSI developed a timeline for the strategic planning process and established the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for DEIA Working Group, comprised of staff from each Institute and Center (IC) and many Offices within the Office of the Director (OD) representing the range of NIH’s activities and research portfolios. The first working group meeting was held at the end of October 2021.

From October 2021 to January 2022, the working group met biweekly to develop the framework for the Plan. The framework of the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2021–2025 was used as a starting point, as it was an aim of the working group for the frameworks of the two Plans to be harmonized. The Plan framework evolved over several meetings as the subobjectives that supported each objective were refined. The proposed framework was reviewed by NIH leadership at the end of December 2021, the IC Directors at the beginning of January 2022, and the DPCPSI Council of Councils at the end of January 2022.

The internal NIH DEIA community comprises a wide network of all 27 ICs, offices within the OD, and staff committees, advisory groups, and employee groups across NIH. The external NIH community also comprises a wide network—including members of the scientific and health care communities, professional societies, advocacy organizations, industry, other federal agencies, and the public. Input gathered from across these internal and external communities, was crucial throughout development of the Plan.

In January 2021, to get a better understanding of the activities relevant to DEIA occurring across NIH, ICs and OD offices were asked to provide information on DEIA activities, including those that were considered completed, ongoing, or starting soon. The collected data comprised an inventory of over 1,700 NIH DEIA activities dating back to 2013 that could be used to inform development of the Plan.

To solicit comments on the proposed framework from internal and external communities, the working group developed a Request for Information (RFI) in the NIH Guide (NOT-OD-22-061) and the Federal Register (FRN 2022-02972), which was advertised broadly. Comments were accepted online from February 1, 2022, to April 3, 2022. NIH received 172 responses to the RFI from community members, which are summarized in a report. In addition, NIH hosted a webinar on March 29, 2022, to provide the opportunity for internal and external community members to ask questions on the strategic plan development process and comment on the framework. The webinar slides and transcript are available.

NIH staff input was sought throughout the process. In addition to being encouraged to submit comments to the RFI and attend the webinar, the draft framework was also shared during an NIH-Wide Town Hall on DEIA on June 29, 2022.

From February to March 2022, the working group further refined the framework to include goals, strategies, and crosscutting themes before it was approved by NIH leadership. The working group reviewed the NIH DEIA inventory to identify potential activities to include as examples in the Plan, and proposed new activities to include, as applicable.

In April 2022, the working group began drafting the Plan based on the framework and the prioritized content. The working group reviewed and integrated the feedback gathered from the RFI and webinar into the framework and draft narratives.

The expanded framework, along with sample activities included in the Plan, was presented to the IC Directors on May 26, 2022; the Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Diversity on June 2, 2022; and the full Advisory Committee to the Director on June 10, 2022.

The draft Strategic Plan was finalized through an iterative review process. Beginning in July 2022, the Plan was reviewed by NIH leadership, the NIH Steering Committee DEIA Working Group, IC Directors, the Office of General Counsel, and the Advisory Committee to the Director. Following final review and approval by NIH leadership, the final version of the Fiscal Years 2023-2027 NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for DEIA was published.

This page last reviewed on March 20, 2023