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

Today, the Office of the Chief Statistician is taking a key step forward in its formal process to revise OMB’s statistical standards for collecting and reporting race and ethnicity data across Federal agencies (Directive No. 15) by publishing an initial set of recommended revisions proposed by an Interagency Technical Working Group. 

This process commenced last summer with the goal of ensuring that the standards better reflect the diversity of the American people. Comprising Federal government career staff who represent more than 20 agencies, the Working Group was charged with proposing recommendations for improving the quality and usefulness of Federal race and ethnicity data. Today we are announcing those initial proposals, which include:

  • Collecting race and ethnicity together with a single question;
  • Adding a response category for Middle Eastern and North African, separate and distinct from the “White” category; and
  • Updating SPD 15’s terminology, definitions, and question wording.

It’s important to remember that the recommendations are preliminary—not final—and they do not represent the positions of OMB or the agencies participating on the Working Group.

As we consider these recommendations, we want to hear directly from the American people. Input from non-governmental stakeholders and the public will help guide the Working Group as it continues to refine and finalize its recommendations. We encourage everyone to provide your personal thoughts and reactions on these proposals, including how you believe they may affect different communities, by April 12, 2023.

You can visit the Working Group’s new website, read the full Federal Register Notice, provide feedback on the Working Group’s initial proposals, and participate in one of the Working Group’s virtual, bi-monthly listening sessions or upcoming public virtual town halls to share your individual perspectives directly. You can provide as little or as much feedback as you’d like for the Federal Register Notice (e.g., just addressing one question posed or responding to all aspects). To schedule a listening session to offer your perspective, please send a brief email expressing interest to  Additional details on the virtual town halls will be shared on the Working Group’s website. In all of our efforts to gather your valuable feedback, we will not be seeking consensus recommendations.

We are committed to a full, transparent revision process, guided by input from the American people. Your participation in this process will play a critical role in helping us improve the way Federal agencies safely and accurately collect and use information on the race and ethnicity of our diverse America. This is vital to ensure our programs and policies are effective across the Federal government—and we look forward to sharing additional updates in the months ahead. We are on track to reach the goal of completing these important revisions by the Summer of 2024.

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