By Dr. Karin Orvis, Chief Statistician of the United States

As the Chief Statistician of the United States, I am excited to announce that my office is beginning a formal review to revise OMB’s Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 (Directive No. 15): Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. Directive No. 15 provides minimum standards that ensure our ability to compare information and data across Federal agencies, and also to understand how well Federal programs serve a diverse America. In addition, the current Standards encourage further disaggregation in the collection, tabulation, and reporting of data when useful.

Since I began this role in April, I have heard from leaders across the Federal statistical system, external stakeholders, and colleagues across the Executive Branch who share my commitment to updating the Standards and making this work a top priority. We will do so using tried and true processes, with experts from across the Federal Government reviewing the Standards, along with critical feedback and input from non-governmental stakeholders and the public. Ultimately, this will help ensure the Standards better reflect the diversity of the American people.

Much has been learned about the implementation of Directive No. 15 since it was issued approximately 25 years ago. Our review will make use of that knowledge, including the work of the previous OMB-chartered Interagency Working Group for Research on Race and Ethnicity and the work of the Equitable Data Working Group. This review will also allow the public and Federal agencies to offer new perspectives, as relevant, to inform the revisions.

My office will use a revision process similar to those used for other trusted statistical standards, which will help ensure the rigor, validity, objectivity, and impartiality of the resulting recommended revisions, and will include, at minimum, the following steps:

  • I will convene an Interagency Technical Working Group of Federal Government career staff who represent programs that collect or use race and ethnicity data.
  • This technical working group, through OMB, will solicit public stakeholder input on its recommended proposal through a Federal Register Notice.
  • I will consider the recommendations of the technical working group, as well as the public comments, to develop a recommendation to OMB leadership.

I expect to convene the interagency technical working group in the coming months. I understand the importance of moving quickly and with purpose. It is also important that we get this right. I am committed to a full, transparent process for updating the Standards. It will take the technical working group time to evaluate relevant research, engage in a meaningful way with the American public and all impacted agencies, and develop recommendations to send to me. Given the necessary steps, we have a goal of completing the revision no later than Summer 2024.

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