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Congressman Cleaver Calls For the Department of Labor to Release Federal Workforce Data

Mar 7, 2019
Press Release
Cleaver sends letter to Secretary Acosta requesting release of government contractor data regarding gender and race

(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II sent a letter to Secretary Alexander Acosta of the United States Department of Labor (DOL) requesting the release of federal government contractor data regarding gender and racial demographics. Reports have revealed that several private government contractors have asserted that specific workforce demographic data qualifies as a trade secret and/or privileged commercial information under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), an assertion that Congressman Cleaver vehemently disagrees with.

“The American people have a right to know where their taxes are going and whether their government, the largest buyer in the world, is facilitating a world that affords them sufficient opportunity. The laughable notion that disclosing demographic data would somehow give competitors an upper hand moving forward is unacceptable to me and offensive to the constituents whom I represent,” said Congressman Cleaver. “I strongly urge Secretary Acosta to release this information so that the public can rest assured that these contractors are living up to their commitments and the government is ensuring employment opportunities for all Americans.”

In 1966, Congress passed the FOIA, which provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency, except in specified circumstances. Over recent years, a number of federal technology contractors have asserted Exemption 4 when FOIA requests have been submitted regarding workforce demographics. Exemption 4 includes “trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is confidential or privileged.”

“Considering the law as written, I find it absurd that these contractors are making the argument that workforce diversity is not of public concern. If our self-governing democracy is to work as designed, it is absolutely imperative that the federal government and the companies it contracts out to be transparent with the American people,” Congressman Cleaver said.

Congressman Cleaver has worked tirelessly to ensure a diverse and inclusive workforce, primarily in the rapidly-expanding tech industry. In June of 2018, the Congressman met with representatives from Amazon to discuss efforts to diversify the company’s workforce and leadership. The following month, Congressman Cleaver, along with Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NC), Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Congresswoman Yvette Clark (D-NY), sent a follow-up letter to Amazon requesting they commit to having a minority on their Board of Directors by 2019, and applauded the company when they appointed Roz Brewer to the board last month. Congressman Cleaver has also pushed for other tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Uber to address a lack of diversity in leadership, with several responding to congressional calls for more inclusive hiring practices.

You can find the letter to Secretary Acosta here.

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy; the Committee on Homeland Security; and, a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Heather Frierson at 816-842-4545 or A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.