Key Issues > Race in America > Past Racial Disparities Reports  

Race in America

Minorities in America continue to be affected by inequality — here’s a broad look at GAO’s work on this issue.
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Past Racial Disparities Reports

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Minorities, renters, and homeless people are more likely to be undercounted in the census. In the course of our work on the Census Bureau, we’ve reviewed efforts to improve its count of people in hard-to-count groups.

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Economic/ Financial

We’ve examined challenges minorities face gaining access to lending (both personally and professionally) and differences in social status that affect economic outlooks.

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HOUSING: Preliminary Analysis of Homeownership Trends for Nine Cities
GAO-20-544R (Jun 25, 2020; Public Jul 27, 2020)

Millennial Generation: Information on the Economic Status of Millennial Households Compared to Previous Generations
GAO-20-194 (Dec 13, 2019; Public Dec 18, 2019)

Small Business Administration: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Engagement with Historically Black Colleges and Universities
GAO-20-41 (Nov 13, 2019; Public Dec 13, 2019)

Rental Housing: As More Households Rent, the Poorest Face Affordability and Housing Quality Challenges
GAO-20-427 (May 27, 2020; Public Jun 26, 2020)

Retirement Security: Income and Wealth Disparities Continue through Old Age
GAO-19-587 (Aug 9, 2019; Public Sep 9, 2019)

Indian Issues: Agricultural Credit Needs and Barriers to Lending on Tribal Lands
GAO-19-464 (May 9, 2019)

Agricultural Lending: Information on Credit and Outreach to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Is Limited
GAO-19-539 (Jul 11, 2019)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Action Needed to Improve Participation in Education's HBCU Capital Financing Program
GAO-18-455 (Jun 26, 2018)

Child Care: Access to Subsidies and Strategies to Manage Demand Vary Across States
GAO-17-60 (Dec 15, 2016)

Investment Management: Key Practices Could Provide More Options for Federal Entities and Opportunities for Minority- and Women-Owned Asset Managers
GAO-17-726 (Sep 13, 2017; Public Sep 20, 2017)

Retirement Security: Low Defined Contribution Savings May Pose Challenges
GAO-16-408 (May 5, 2016)

Government Contracting: Federal Efforts to Assist Small Minority Owned Businesses
GAO-12-873 (Sep 28, 2012)

Nonprime Mortgages: Analysis of Loan Performance, Factors Associated with Defaults, and Data Sources
GAO-10-805 (Aug 24, 2010; Public Sep 23, 2010)

Fair Lending: Data Limitations and the Fragmented U.S. Financial Regulatory Structure Challenge Federal Oversight and Enforcement Efforts
GAO-09-704 (Jul 15, 2009)

Fair Lending: Race and Gender Data Are Limited for Nonmortgage Lending
GAO-08-1023T (Jul 17, 2008)

African American Children in Foster Care: HHS and Congressional Actions Could Help Reduce Proportion in Care
GAO-08-1064T (Jul 31, 2008)

Minority Banks: Regulators Need to Better Assess Effectiveness of Support Efforts
GAO-07-6 (Oct 4, 2006)

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Resolution of Discrimination Complaints Involving Farm Credit and Payment Programs
GAO-01-521R (Apr 12, 2001; Public May 14, 2001)

Large Bank Mergers: Fair Lending Review Could be Enhanced With Better Coordination
GGD-00-16 (Nov 3, 1999)

Minorities and Women on Farm Committees
RCED-95-113R (Mar 1, 1995)


The link between racial and ethnic minorities and poverty has been studied for decades. Our work has looked at how socio-economic status has been linked to school safety, education quality, and higher school discipline rates among minorities. 

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Environmental Justice

Minority and low-income communities are more likely to be exposed to air pollution, hazardous waste, and industrial facilities. Much of this is due to disparities in the development and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

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Equal Employment

Federal, state, and private companies have struggled to integrate and achieve diverse workforces. This also includes access to equal opportunities for promotions, pay, and upward mobility in places of work.

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State Department: Additional Steps Are Needed to Identify Barriers to Workforce Diversity
GAO-20-515T (Jun 17, 2020)

State Department: Additional Steps Are Needed to Identify Potential Barriers to Diversity
GAO-20-237 (Jan 27, 2020; Public Feb 25, 2020)

USAID: Mixed Progress in Increasing Diversity, and Actions Needed to Consistently Meet EEO Requirements
GAO-20-477 (Jun 23, 2020)

Equal Employment Opportunity: DHS Could Better Address Challenges to Ensuring EEO in Its Workforce
GAO-20-450T (Feb 27, 2020)

Federal Home Loan Banks: Steps Have Been Taken to Promote Board Diversity, but Challenges Remain
GAO-19-252 (Feb 14, 2019; Public Mar 20, 2019)

Federal Home Loan Banks: Efforts to Promote Workforce, Supplier, and Broker Dealer Diversity
GAO-19-589 (Aug 16, 2019; Public Sep 20, 2019)

Board  Diversity: Strategies to Increase Representation of Women and Minorities
GAO-19-637T (Jun 20, 2019)

Financial Services Industry: Representation of Minorities and Women in Management and Practices to Promote Diversity, 2007-2015
GAO-19-398T (Feb 27, 2019)

Equal Employment Opportunity: DHS Could Better Address Challenges to Ensuring EEO in Its Workforce
GAO-19-573 (Jul 24, 2019)

Diversity in the Technology Sector: Federal Agencies Could Improve Oversight of EEO Requirements
GAO-18-69 (Nov 16, 2017; Public Nov 30, 2017)

Financial Services Industry: Trends in Management Representation of Minorities and Women and Diversity Practices, 2007-2015
GAO-18-64 (Nov 8, 2017; Public Dec 8, 2017)

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Additional Actions Needed to Support a Fair and Inclusive Workplace
GAO-16-62 (May 19, 2016; Public Jun 20, 2016)

Equal Employment Opportunity: Pilot Project Could Help test Solutions to Long Standing Concerns with EEO Complaint Process
GAO-09-712 (Aug 12, 2009)

Human Capital: Diversity in Federal SES and Processes for Selecting New Executives
GAO-09-110 (Nov 26, 2008)

Human Capital: Workforce diversity Government wide and at DHS
GAO-08-815T (May 21, 2008)

Human Capital: Workforce Diversity Government wide and at the Small Business Administration
GAO-08-725T (Apr 23, 2008)

Human Capital: Diversity in Federal SES and Senior Levels of US Postal Service and Processes for Selecting New Executives
GAO-08-609T (Apr 3, 2008)

Human Capital: Diversity in the Federal SES and Senior Levels of the US Postal Service
GAO-07-838T (May 10, 2007)

Data on Hispanic Representation in the Federal Workforce
GAO-07-493R (May 18, 2007)

The Federal Workforce: Additional Insights Could Enhance Agency Efforts Related to Hispanic Representation
GAO-06-832 (Aug 17, 2006; Public Sep 20, 2006)

Equal Employment Opportunity: Improved Coordination Needed between EEOC and OPM in Leading Federal Workforce
GAO-06-214 (Jun 16, 2006)

Equal Employment Opportunity: The Policy Framework in the Federal Government and the Roles of EEOC and OPM
GAO-05-195 (Apr 29, 2005; Public May 10, 2005)

Diversity Management: Expert-Identified Leading Practices and Agency Examples
GAO-05-90 (Jan 14, 2005; Public Feb 4, 2005)

Equal Employment Opportunity: Responses to Questions Related to Equal Employment Opportunity and Dispute Resolution Issues
GGD-00-123R (Apr 21, 2000; Public May 4, 2000)

Workforce Profile at SSA Baltimore
GGD-96-80R (Apr 5, 1996; Public Apr 15, 1996)

Equal Employment Opportunity: DOL Contract Compliance Reviews Could Better Target Federal Contractors
HEHS-95-177 (Sep 28, 1995)

Managing Doe: Further Review Needed of Suspensions of Security Clearances for Minority Employees
RCED-95-15 (Dec 8, 1994; Public Jan 9, 1995)

Equal Employment Opportunity: Displacement Rates, Unemployment Spells, and Reemployment Wages by Race
HEHS-94-229FS (Sep 16, 1994)

Job Training Partnership Act: Racial and Gender Disparities in Services
T-HRD-91-42 (Jul 17, 1991)

Watchdog Report

Millennial Generation Economic Status

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Watchdog Report

State Department Workforce Diversity

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Watchdog Report

Diversity in the Technology Sector

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Government Programs

Minorities continue to face difficulties accessing federal programs, grants, and government services.

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Health Care

We examined how lack of access to quality health care and certain Social Security benefits affects minorities.

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Justice and Law Enforcement

We looked at disparities in voter ID laws, court sentencing, and policing, and how they affect minorities.

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Native American Youth: Information on Involvement in Justice Systems and Grant Programs to Help Address Juvenile Delinquency
GAO-18-697T (Sep 26, 2018)

Native American Youth: Involvement in Justice Systems and Information on Grants to Help Address Juvenile Delinquency
GAO-18-591 (Sep 5, 2018)

Costs Of Crime: Experts Report Challenges Estimating Costs and Suggest Improvements to Better Inform Policy Decisions
GAO-17-732 (Sep 26, 2017)

Elections: Issues Related to State Voter Identification Laws
GAO-14-634 (Sep 19, 2014; Public Oct 8, 2014)

U.S. Department Of Justice: Information on Employment Litigation, Housing and Civil Enforcement, Voting, and Special Litigation Sections' Enforcement Efforts from Fiscal Years 2001 through 2007
GAO-10-75 (Oct 23, 2009; Public Dec 3, 2009)

U.S. Department Of Justice: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen the Civil Rights Division's Ability to Manage and Report on Its Enforcement Efforts
GAO-10-256T (Dec 3, 2009)

U.S. Customs Service: Better Targeting of Airline Passengers for Personal Searches Could Produce Better Results
GGD-00-38 (Mar 17, 2000; Public Apr 10, 2000)

Racial Profiling: Limited Data Available on Motorist Stops
GGD-00-41 (Mar 13, 2000; Public Apr 12, 2000)

Circuit Bias Task Force Reports
GGD-96-71R (Mar 8, 1996)

Racial Differences in Arrests
GGD-94-29R (Jan 20, 1994)

Sentencing Guidelines: Central Questions Remain Unanswered
GGD-92-93 (Aug 14, 1992)

Death Penalty Sentencing: Research Indicates Pattern of Racial Disparities
GGD-90-57 (Feb 26, 1990)


We found that racial disparities continued to persist in military justice, education, and employment opportunity, long after minorities were allowed to serve.

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