GAO: FDIC agrees to evaluate its sexual harassment prevention training program to identify needed improvements

The federal bank deposit insurer said it agrees with a congressional watchdog report recommending that it develop and implement a plan to evaluate its required sexual harassment prevention training to identify needed improvements, according to a report released Monday.

The 89-page Government Accountability Office (GAO) report was conducted under a 2023 statutory requirement that the office review sexual harassment prevention training at the Department of Defense (DOD) and other agencies. The report includes 14 recommendations for the agencies reviewed, including the one noted above for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).

The report was issued against the backdrop of an ongoing, third-party review of sexual harassment claims within the FDIC that a special FDIC Board committee has said could be completed in the second quarter of this year. The FDIC is the only federal financial institution regulatory agency noted in the report.

The GAO report, in recommending that the FDIC evaluate its sexual harassment prevention training, said the FDIC’s evaluation plan “should include an assessment of training content and implementation to determine whether revisions are needed to better align with management practices to enhance the effectiveness of sexual harassment prevention training.”

The FDIC, in a letter supporting the GAO recommendation, said it issued an “Action Plan for a Safe, Fair, and Inclusive Work Environment” in December (apparently not released to the public). It said a sampling from the plan’s eight initiatives are also relevant to the GAO recommendation:

  • Sexual harassment training: The FDIC will conduct mandatory “live” training on preventing and addressing sexual harassment for all employees, managers, and executives. The Agency will implement a process to regularly assess the effectiveness of trainings and revise as needed.
  • New Employee Orientation: The FDIC will require training on preventing and addressing sexual harassment at new employee orientation.
  • Anti-Harassment Directive: The FDIC will issue a revised draft directive on anti-harassment to include a more detailed definition of sexual harassment and provide a plain language explanation of existing anti-retaliation protections for individuals who report cases of sexual harassment or otherwise expose discriminatory practices.

The FDIC’s response letter can be found starting on p.70 of the GAO report. The GAO says its recommendation for the agency remains “open” and that it will provide an update once it confirms the recommended action has taken place.

Sexual Harassment: Actions Needed to Improve Prevention Training for Federal Civilian Employees (GAO-24-106589)