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Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity

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Federal Register Notice
October 30, 1997

OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET

Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity

AGENCY: Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

ACTION: Notice of decision.

SUMMARY: By this Notice, OMB is announcing its decision concerning the revision of Statistical Policy Directive No. 15, Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting. OMB is accepting the recommendations of the Interagency Committee for the Review of the Racial and Ethnic Standards with the following two modifications: (1) the Asian or Pacific Islander category will be separated into two categories -- "Asian" and "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander," and (2) the term "Hispanic" will be changed to "Hispanic or Latino."

The revised standards will have five minimum categories for data on race: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White. There will be two categories for data on ethnicity: "Hispanic or Latino" and "Not Hispanic or Latino."

The Supplementary Information in this Notice provides background information on the standards (Section A); a summary of the comprehensive review process that began in July 1993 (Section B); a brief synopsis of the public comments OMB received on the recommendations for changes to the standards in response to the July 9, 1997, Federal Register Notice (Section C); OMB's decisions on the specific recommendations of the Interagency Committee (Section D); and information on the work that is underway on tabulation issues associated with the reporting of multiple race responses (Section E).

The revised standards for the classification of Federal data on race and ethnicity are presented at the end of this notice; they replace and supersede Statistical Policy Directive No. 15.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The new standards will be used by the Bureau of the Census in the 2000 decennial census. Other Federal programs should adopt the standards as soon as possible, but not later than January 1, 2003, for use in household surveys, administrative forms and records, and other data collections. In addition, OMB has approved the use of the new standards by the Bureau of the Census in the "Dress Rehearsal" for Census 2000 scheduled to be conducted in March 1998.

ADDRESSES: Please send correspondence about OMB's decision to: Katherine K. Wallman, Chief Statistician, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Room 10201 New Executive Office Building, 725 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20503; fax: (202) 395-7245.

ELECTRONIC AVAILABILITY AND ADDRESSES: This Federal Register Notice and the related OMB Notices of June 9, 1994, August 28, 1995, and July 9, 1997, are available electronically from the OMB Homepage on the World Wide Web: <</OMB/fedreg/>>.

Federal Register Notices are also available electronically from the U.S. Government Printing Office web site: <<http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html>>. Questions about accessing the Federal Register online via GPO Access may be directed to telephone (202) 512-1530 or toll free at (888) 293-6498; to fax (202) 512-1262; or to E-mail <<gpoaccess@gpo.gov>>.

This Notice is available in paper copy from the OMB Publications Office, 725 17th Street, NW, NEOB, Room 2200, Washington, D.C. 20503; telephone (202) 395-7332; fax (202) 395-6137.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Suzann Evinger, Statistical Policy Office, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, NEOB, Room 10201, 725 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20503; telephone: (202) 395-3093; fax (202) 395-7245.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Background

For more than 20 years, the current standards in OMB's Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 have provided a common language to promote uniformity and comparability for data on race and ethnicity for the population groups specified in the Directive. They were developed in cooperation with Federal agencies to provide consistent data on race and ethnicity throughout the Federal Government. Development of the data standards stemmed in large measure from new responsibilities to enforce civil rights laws. Data were needed to monitor equal access in housing, education, employment, and other areas, for populations that historically had experienced discrimination and differential treatment because of their race or ethnicity. The standards are used not only in the decennial census (which provides the data for the "denominator" for many measures), but also in household surveys, on administrative forms (e.g., school registration and mortgage lending applications), and in medical and other research. The categories represent a social-political construct designed for collecting data on the race and ethnicity of broad population groups in this country, and are not anthropologically or scientifically based.

B. Comprehensive Review Process

Particularly since the 1990 census, the standards have come under increasing criticism from those who believe that the minimum categories set forth in Directive No. 15 do not reflect the increasing diversity of our Nation's population that has resulted primarily from growth in immigration and in interracial marriages. In response to the criticisms, OMB announced in July 1993 that it would undertake a comprehensive review of the current categories for data on race and ethnicity.

This review has been conducted over the last four years in collaboration with the Interagency Committee for the Review of the Racial and Ethnic Standards, which OMB established in March 1994 to facilitate the participation of Federal agencies in the review. The members of the Interagency Committee, from more than 30 agencies, represent the many and diverse Federal needs for data on race and ethnicity, including statutory requirements for such data. The Interagency Committee developed the following principles to govern the review process:

1. The racial and ethnic categories set forth in the standards should not be interpreted as being primarily biological or genetic in reference. Race and ethnicity may be thought of in terms of social and cultural characteristics as well as ancestry.

2. Respect for individual dignity should guide the processes and methods for collecting data on race and ethnicity; ideally, respondent self-identification should be facilitated to the greatest extent possible, recognizing that in some data collection systems observer identification is more practical.

3. To the extent practicable, the concepts and terminology should reflect clear and generally understood definitions that can achieve broad public acceptance. To assure they are reliable, meaningful, and understood by respondents and observers, the racial and ethnic categories set forth in the standard should be developed using appropriate scientific methodologies, including the social sciences.

4. The racial and ethnic categories should be comprehensive in coverage and produce compatible, nonduplicative, exchangeable data across Federal agencies.

5. Foremost consideration should be given to data aggregations by race and ethnicity that are useful for statistical analysis and program administration and assessment, bearing in mind that the standards are not intended to be used to establish eligibility for participation in any federal program.

6. The standards should be developed to meet, at a minimum, Federal legislative and programmatic requirements. Consideration should also be given to needs at the State and local government levels, including American Indian tribal and Alaska Native village governments, as well as to general societal needs for these data.

7. The categories should set forth a minimum standard; additional categories should be permitted provided they can be aggregated to the standard categories. The number of standard categories should be kept to a manageable size, determined by statistical concerns and data needs.

8. A revised set of categories should be operationally feasible in terms of burden placed upon respondents; public and private costs to implement the revisions should be a factor in the decision.

9. Any changes in the categories should be based on sound methodological research and should include evaluations of the impact of any changes not only on the usefulness of the resulting data but also on the comparability of any new categories with the existing ones.

10. Any revision to the categories should provide for a crosswalk at the time of adoption between the old and the new categories so that historical data series can be statistically adjusted and comparisons can be made.

11. Because of the many and varied needs and strong interdependence of Federal agencies for racial and ethnic data, any changes to the existing categories should be the product of an interagency collaborative effort.

12. Time will be allowed to phase in any new categories. Agencies will not be required to update historical records.

13. The new directive should be applicable throughout the U.S. Federal statistical system. The standard or standards must be usable for the decennial census, current surveys, and administrative records, including those using observer identification.

The principal objective of the review has been to enhance the accuracy of the demographic information collected by the Federal Government. The starting point for the review was the minimum set of categories for data on race and ethnicity that have provided information for more than 20 years for a variety of purposes, and the recognition of the importance of being able to maintain this historical continuity. The review process has had two major elements: (1) public comment on the present standards, which helped to identify concerns and provided numerous suggestions for changing the standards; and (2) research and testing related to assessing the possible effects of suggested changes on the quality and usefulness of the resulting data.

Public input, the first element of the review process, was sought through a variety of means: (1) During 1993, Congressman Thomas C. Sawyer, then Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Census, Statistics, and Postal Personnel, held four hearings that included 27 witnesses, focusing particularly on the use of the categories in the 2000 census. (2) At the request of OMB, the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) conducted a workshop in February 1994 to articulate issues surrounding a review of the categories. The workshop included representatives of Federal agencies, academia, social science research institutions, interest groups, private industry, and a local school district. (A summary of the workshop, Spotlight on Heterogeneity: The Federal Standards for Racial and Ethnic Classification, is available from CNSTAT, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418.) (3) On June 9, 1994, OMB published a Federal Register (59 FR 29831-29835) Notice that contained background information on the development of the current standards and requested public comment on: the adequacy of current racial and ethnic categories; the principles that should govern any proposed revisions to the standards; and specific suggestions for change that had been offered by individuals and interested groups over a period of several years. In response, OMB received nearly 800 letters. As part of this comment period and to bring the review closer to the public, OMB also heard testimony from 94 witnesses at hearings held during July 1994 in Boston, Denver, San Francisco, and Honolulu. (4) In an August 28, 1995, Federal Register (60 FR 44674-44693) Notice, OMB provided an interim report on the review process, including a summary of the comments on the June 1994 Federal Register Notice, and offered a final opportunity for comment on the research to be conducted during 1996. (5) OMB staff have also discussed the review process with various interested groups and have made presentations at numerous meetings.

The second element of the review process involved research and testing of various proposed changes. The categories in OMB's Directive No. 15 are used not only to produce data on the demographic characteristics of the population, but also to monitor civil rights enforcement and program implementation. Research was undertaken to provide an objective assessment of the data quality issues associated with various approaches to collecting data on race and ethnicity. To that end, the Interagency Committee's Research Working Group, co-chaired by the Bureau of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reviewed the various criticisms and suggestions for changing the current categories, and developed a research agenda for some of the more significant issues that had been identified. These issues included how to collect data on persons who identify themselves as "multiracial"; whether to combine race and Hispanic origin in one question or have separate questions on race and Hispanic origin; whether to combine the concepts of race, ethnicity, and ancestry; whether to change the terminology used for particular categories; and whether to add new categories to the current minimum set.

Because the mode of data collection can have an effect on how a person responds, the research agenda proposed studies both in surveys using in-person or telephone interviews and in self-administered questionnaires, such as the decennial census, which are filled out by the respondent and mailed back. Cognitive interviews were conducted with various groups to provide guidance on the wording of the questions and the instructions for the tests and studies.

The research agenda included several major national tests, the results of which are discussed throughout the Interagency Committee's Report to the Office of Management and Budget on the Review of Statistical Policy Directive No. 15: (1) In May 1995, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sponsored a Supplement on Race and Ethnicity to the Current Population Survey (CPS). The findings were made available in a 1996 report, Testing Methods of Collecting Racial and Ethnic Information: Results of the Current Population Survey Supplement on Race and Ethnicity, available from BLS, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Room 4915, Postal Square Building, Washington, D.C. 20212, or by calling 202-606-7375. The results were also summarized in an October 26, 1995, news release, which is available electronically at <<http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/ethnic.toc.htm>>. (2) The Bureau of the Census, as part of its research for the 2000 census, tested alternative approaches to collecting data on race and ethnicity in the March 1996 National Content Survey (NCS). The Census Bureau published the results in a December 1996 report, Findings on Questions on Race and Hispanic Origin Tested in the 1996 National Content Survey; highlights of the report are available at <<http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/96natcontentsurvey.html>>. (3) In June 1996, the Census Bureau conducted the Race and Ethnic Targeted Test (RAETT), which was designed to permit assessments of the effects of possible changes on smaller populations not reliably measured in national samples, including American Indians, Alaska Natives, detailed Asian and Pacific Islander groups (such as Chinese and Hawaiians), and detailed Hispanic groups (such as Puerto Ricans and Cubans). The Census Bureau released the results in a May 1997 report, Results of the 1996 Race and Ethnic Targeted Test; highlights of the report are available at <<http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0018.html>>. Single copies (paper) of the NCS and RAETT reports may be obtained from the Population Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C. 20233; telephone 301-457-2402.

In addition to these three major tests, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education jointly conducted a survey of 1,000 public schools to determine how schools collect data on the race and ethnicity of their students and how the administrative records containing these data are maintained to meet statutory requirements for reporting aggregate information to the Federal Government. NCES published the results in a March 1996 report, Racial and Ethnic Classifications Used by Public Schools (NCES 96-092). The report is available electronically at <<http://nces.ed.gov/pubs/96092.html>>. Single paper copies may be obtained from NCES, 555 New Jersey, NW, Washington, D.C. 20208-5574, or by calling 202-219-1442.

The research agenda also included studies conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate the procedures used and the quality of the information on race and ethnicity in administrative records such as that reported on birth certificates and recorded on death certificates.

On July 9, 1997, OMB published a Federal Register Notice (62 FR 36874 - 36946) containing the Interagency Committee's Report to the Office of Management and Budget on the Review of Statistical Policy Directive No. 15. The Notice made available for comment the Interagency Committee's recommendations for how OMB should revise Directive No. 15. The report consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 provides a brief history of Directive No. 15, a summary of the issues considered by the Interagency Committee, a review of the research activities, and a discussion of the criteria used in conducting the evaluation. Chapter 2 discusses a number of general concerns that need to be addressed when considering any changes to the current standards. Chapters 3 through 5 report the results of the research as they bear on the more significant suggestions OMB received for changes to Directive No. 15. Chapter 6 gives the Interagency's Committee's recommendations concerning the various suggested changes based on a review of public comments and testimony and the research results.

C. Summary of Comments Received on the Interagency Committee's Recommendations

In response to the July 9, 1997, Federal Register Notice, OMB received approximately 300 letters (many of them hand written) on a variety of issues, plus approximately 7000 individually signed and mailed, preprinted postcards on the issue of classifying data on Native Hawaiians, and about 500 individually signed form letters from members of the Hapa Issues Forum in support of adopting the recommendation for multiple race reporting. Some of the 300 letters focused on a single recommendation of particular interest to the writer, while other letters addressed a number of the recommendations. The preponderance of the comments were from individuals. Each comment was considered in preparing OMB's decision.

1. Comments on Recommendations Concerning Reporting More Than One Race

The Interagency Committee recommended that, when self-identification is used, respondents who wish to identify their mixed racial heritage should be able to mark or select more than one of the racial categories originally specified in Directive No. 15, but that there should not be a "multiracial" category. This recommendation to report multiple races was favorably received by most of those commenting on it, including associations and organizations such as the American Medical Association, the National Education Association, the National Council of La Raza, and the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, as well as all Federal agencies that responded. Comments from some organizations, such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Equal Employment Advisory Council, were receptive to the recommendation on multiple race responses, but expressed reservations pending development of tabulation methods to ensure the utility of these data. The recommendation was also supported by many of the advocacy groups that had earlier supported a "multiracial" (box) category, such as the Association of MultiEthnic Americans and its affiliates nationwide. Several individuals wrote in support of "multiple race" reporting, basing their comments on a September 1997 article, "What Race Am I?" in Mademoiselle magazine, which urged its readers "to express an opinion on whether or not a 'Multiracial' category should be included in all federal record keeping, including the 2000 census." A few comments specifically favoring multiple race responses suggested that respondents should also be asked to indicate their primary racial affiliation in order to facilitate the tabulation of responses. A handful of comments on multiple race reporting suggested that individuals with both Hispanic and non-Hispanic heritages be permitted to mark or select both categories (see discussion below).

A few comments, in particular some from state agencies and legislatures, opposed any multiple race reporting because of possible increased costs to collect the information and implementation problems. Comments from the American Indian tribal governments also were opposed to the recommendation concerning reporting more than one race. A number of the comments that supported multiple race responses also expressed concern about the cost and burden of collecting the information to meet Federal reporting requirements, the schedule for implementation, and how the data would be tabulated to meet the requirements of legislative redistricting and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. A few comments expressed support for categories called "human," or "American"; several proposed that there be no collection of data on race.

2. Comments on Recommendation for Classification of Data on Native Hawaiians

The Interagency Committee recommended that data on Native Hawaiians continue to be classified in the Asian or Pacific Islander category. This recommendation was opposed by the Hawaiian congressional delegation, the 7,000 individuals who signed and sent preprinted yellow postcards, the State of Hawaii departments and legislature, Hawaiian organizations, and other individuals who commented on this recommendation. Instead, the comments from these individuals supported reclassifying Native Hawaiians in the American Indian or Alaska Native category, which they view as an "indigenous peoples" category (although this category has not been considered or portrayed in this manner in the standards). Native Hawaiians, as the descendants of the original inhabitants of what is now the State of Hawaii, believe that as indigenous people they should be classified in the same category as American Indians and Alaska Natives. On the other hand, the American Indian tribal governments have opposed such a reclassification, primarily because they view the data obtained from that category as being essential for administering Federal programs for American Indians. Comments from the Native Hawaiians also noted the Asian or Pacific Islander category provides inadequate data for monitoring the social and economic conditions of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander groups. Because the Interagency Committee had recommended against adding categories to the minimum set of categories, requesting a separate category for Native Hawaiians was not viewed as an option by those who commented.

3. Comments on Recommendation Concerning Classification of Data on Central and South American Indians

The Interagency Committee recommended that data for Central and South American Indians be included in the American Indian or Alaska Native category. Several comments from the American Indian community opposed this recommendation. Moreover, comments from some Native Hawaiians pointed out what they believed to be an inconsistency in the Interagency Committee's recommendation to include in the American Indian or Alaska Native category descendants of Central and South American Indians -- persons who are not original peoples of the United States -- if Native Hawaiians were not to be included.

4. Comments on Recommendation Not to Add an Arab or Middle Eastern Ethnic Category

The Interagency Committee recommended that an Arab or Middle Eastern ethnic category should not be added to the minimum standards for all reporting of Federal data on race and ethnicity. Several comments were received in support of having a separate category in order to have data viewed as necessary to monitor discrimination against this population.

5. Comments on Recommendations for Terminology

Comments on terminology largely supported the Interagency Committee's recommendations to retain the term "American Indian," to change "Hawaiian" to "Native Hawaiian," and to change "Black" to "Black or African American." There were a few requests to include "Latino" in the category name for the Hispanic population.

D. OMB's Decisions

This section of the Notice provides information on the decisions taken by OMB on the recommendations that were proposed by the Interagency Committee. The Committee's recommendations addressed options for reporting by respondents, formats of questions, and several aspects of specific categories, including possible additions, revised terminology, and changes in definitions. In reviewing OMB's decisions on the recommendations for collecting data on race and ethnicity, it is useful to remember that these decisions:

retain the concept that the standards provide a minimum set of categories for data on race and ethnicity;

permit the collection of more detailed information on population groups provided that any additional categories can be aggregated into the minimum standard set of categories;

underscore that self-identification is the preferred means of obtaining information about an individual's race and ethnicity, except in instances where observer identification is more practical (e.g., completing a death certificate);

do not identify or designate certain population groups as "minority groups";

continue the policy that the categories are not to be used for determining the eligibility of population groups for participation in any Federal programs;

do not establish criteria or qualifications (such as blood quantum levels) that are to be used in determining a particular individual's racial or ethnic classification; and

do not tell an individual who he or she is, or specify how an individual should classify himself or herself.

In arriving at its decisions, OMB took into account not only the public comment on the recommendations published in the Federal Register on July 9, 1997, but also the considerable amount of information provided during the four years of this review process, including public comments gathered from hearings and responses to two earlier OMB Notices (on June 9, 1994, and August 28, 1995). The OMB decisions benefited greatly from the participation of the public that served as a constant reminder that there are real people represented by the data on race and ethnicity and that this is for many a deeply personal issue. In addition, the OMB decisions benefited from the results of the research and testing on how individuals identify themselves that was undertaken as part of this review process. This research, including several national tests of alternative approaches to collecting data on race and ethnicity, was developed and conducted by the professional statisticians and analysts at several Federal agencies. They are to be commended for their perseverance, dedication, and professional commitment to this challenging project.

OMB also considered in reaching its decisions the extent to which the recommendations were consistent with the set of principles (see Section B of the Supplementary Information) developed by the Interagency Committee to guide the review of this sensitive and substantively complex issue. OMB believes that the Interagency Committee's recommendations took into account the principles and achieved a reasonable balance with respect to statistical issues, data needs, social concerns, and the personal dimensions of racial and ethnic identification. OMB also finds that the Committee's recommendations are consistent with the principal objective of the review, which is to enhance the accuracy of the demographic information collected by the Federal Government by having categories for data on race and ethnicity that will enable the capture of information about the increasing diversity of our Nation's population while at the same time respecting each individual's dignity.

As indicated in detail below, OMB accepts the Interagency Committee's recommendations concerning reporting more than one race, including the recommendation that there be no category called "multiracial," the formats and sequencing of the questions on race and Hispanic origin, and most of the changes to terminology.

OMB does not accept the Interagency Committee's recommendations concerning the classification of data on the Native Hawaiian population and the terminology for Hispanics, and it has instead decided to make the changes that follow.

Native Hawaiian classification.--OMB does not accept the recommendation concerning the continued classification of Hawaiians in the Asian or Pacific Islander category. Instead, OMB has decided to break apart the Asian or Pacific Islander category into two categories -- one called "Asian" and the other called "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander." As a result, there will be five categories in the minimum set for data on race.

The "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander" category will be defined as "A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands." (The term "Native Hawaiian" does not include individuals who are native to the State of Hawaii by virtue of being born there.) In addition to Native Hawaiians, Guamanians, and Samoans, this category would include the following Pacific Islander groups reported in the 1990 census: Carolinian, Fijian, Kosraean, Melanesian, Micronesian, Northern Mariana Islander, Palauan, Papua New Guinean, Ponapean (Pohnpelan), Polynesian, Solomon Islander, Tahitian, Tarawa Islander, Tokelauan, Tongan, Trukese (Chuukese), and Yapese.

The "Asian" category will be defined as "A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam."

The Native Hawaiians presented compelling arguments that the standards must facilitate the production of data to describe their social and economic situation and to monitor discrimination against Native Hawaiians in housing, education, employment, and other areas. Under the current standards for data on race and ethnicity, Native Hawaiians comprise about three percent of the Asian and Pacific Islander population. By creating separate categories, the data on the Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander groups will no longer be overwhelmed by the aggregate data of the much larger Asian groups. Native Hawaiians will comprise about 60 percent of the new category.

The Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander population groups are well defined; moreover, there has been experience with reporting in separate categories for the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population groups. The 1990 census included "Hawaiian," "Samoan," and "Guamanian" as response categories to the race question. In addition, two of the major tests conducted as part of the current review (the NCS and the RAETT) used "Hawaiian" and/or "Native Hawaiian," "Samoan," "Guamanian," and "Guamanian or Chamorro" as response options to the race question. These factors facilitate breaking apart the current category.

Terminology for Hispanics.--OMB does not accept the recommendation to retain the single term "Hispanic." Instead, OMB has decided that the term should be "Hispanic or Latino." Because regional usage of the terms differs -- Hispanic is commonly used in the eastern portion of the United States, whereas Latino is commonly used in the western portion -- this change may contribute to improved response rates.

The OMB decisions on the Interagency Committee's specific recommendations are presented below:

(1) OMB accepts the following recommendations concerning reporting more than one race:

When self-identification is used, a method for reporting more than one race should be adopted.

The method for respondents to report more than one race should take the form of multiple responses to a single question and not a "multiracial" category.

When a list of races is provided to respondents, the list should not contain a "multiracial" category.

Based on research conducted so far, two recommended forms for the instruction accompanying the multiple response question are "Mark one or more ..." and "Select one or more...."

If the criteria for data quality and confidentiality are met, provision should be made to report, at a minimum, the number of individuals identifying with more than one race. Data producers are encouraged to provide greater detail about the distribution of multiple responses.

The new standards will be used in the decennial census, and other data producers should conform as soon as possible, but not later than January 1, 2003.

(2) OMB accepts the following recommendations concerning a combined race and Hispanic ethnicity question:

When self-identification is used, the two question format should be used, with the race question allowing the reporting of more than one race.

When self-identification is not feasible or appropriate, a combined question can be used and should include a separate Hispanic category co-equal with the other categories.

When the combined question is used, an attempt should be made, when appropriate, to record ethnicity and race or multiple races, but the option to indicate only one category is acceptable.

(3) OMB accepts the following recommendations concerning the retention of both reporting formats:

The two question format should be used in all cases involving self-identification.

The current combined question format should be changed and replaced with a new format which includes a co-equal Hispanic category for use, if necessary, in observer identification.

(4) OMB accepts the following recommendation concerning the ordering of the Hispanic origin and race questions:

When the two question format is used, the Hispanic origin question should precede the race question.

(5) OMB accepts the following recommendation concerning adding Cape Verdean as an ethnic category:

Cape Verdean ethnic category should not be added to the minimum data collection standards.

(6) OMB accepts the following recommendation concerning the addition of an Arab or Middle Eastern ethnic category:

An Arab or Middle Eastern ethnic category should not be added to the minimum data standards.

(7) OMB interprets the recommendation not to add any other categories to mean the expansion of the minimum set to include new population groups. The OMB decision to break apart the "Asian or Pacific Islander" category does not create a category for a new population group.

(8) OMB accepts the following recommendation concerning changing the term "American Indian" to "Native American":

The term American Indian should not be changed to Native American.

(9) OMB accepts the following recommendation concerning changing the term "Hawaiian" to "Native Hawaiian":

The term "Hawaiian" should be changed to "Native Hawaiian."

(10) OMB does not accept the recommendation concerning the continued classification of Native Hawaiians in the Asian or Pacific Islander category.

OMB has decided to break apart the Asian or Pacific Islander category into two categories -- one called "Asian" and the other called "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander." As a result, there are five categories in the minimum set for data on race.

The "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander" category is defined as "A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands."

he "Asian" category is defined as "A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam."

(11) OMB accepts the following recommendations concerning the use of "Alaska Native" instead of "Eskimo" and "Aleut":

"Alaska Native" should replace the term "Alaskan Native."

Alaska Native should be used instead of Eskimo and Aleut.

The Alaska Native response option should be accompanied by a request for tribal affiliation when possible.

(12) OMB accepts the following recommendations concerning the classification of Central and South American Indians:

Central and South American Indians should be classified as American Indian.

The definition of the "American Indian or Alaska Native" category should be modified to include the original peoples from Central and South America.

In addition, OMB has decided to make the definition for the American Indian or Alaska Native category more consistent with the definitions of the other categories.

(13) OMB accepts the following recommendations concerning the term or terms to be used for the name of the Black category:

The name of the Black category should be changed to "Black or African American."

The category definition should remain unchanged.

Additional terms, such as Haitian or Negro, can be used if desired.

(14) OMB decided to modify the recommendations concerning the term or terms to be used for Hispanic:

The term used should be "Hispanic or Latino."

The definition of the category should remain unchanged.

In addition, the term "Spanish Origin," can be used if desired.

Accordingly, the Office of Management and Budget adopts and issues the revised minimum standards for Federal data on race and ethnicity for major population groups in the United States which are set forth at the end of this Notice.

Topics for further research

There are two areas where OMB accepts the Interagency Committee's recommendations but believes that further research is needed: (1) multiple responses to the Hispanic origin question and (2) an ethnic category for Arabs/Middle Easterners.

Multiple Responses to the Hispanic Origin Question.--The Interagency Committee recommended that respondents to Federal data collections should be permitted to report more than one race. During the most recent public comment process, a few comments suggested that the concept of "marking more than one box" should be extended to the Hispanic origin question. Respondents are now asked to indicate if they are "of Hispanic origin" or "not of Hispanic origin." Allowing individuals to select more than one response to the ethnicity question would provide the opportunity to indicate ethnic heritage that is both Hispanic and non-Hispanic.

The term "Hispanic" refers to persons who trace their origin or descent to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America, and other Spanish cultures. While there has been considerable public concern about the need to review Directive No. 15 with respect to classifying individuals of mixed racial heritage, there has been little comment on reporting both an Hispanic and a non-Hispanic origin. On many Federal forms, Hispanics can also express a racial identity on a separate race question. In the decennial census, individuals who consider themselves part Hispanic can also indicate additional heritages in the ancestry question.

On one hand, it can be argued that allowing individuals to mark both categories in the Hispanic origin question would parallel the instruction "to mark (or select) one or more" racial categories. Individuals would not have to choose between their parents' ethnic heritages, and movement toward an increasingly diverse society would be recognized.

On the other hand, because the matter of multiple responses to the Hispanic ethnicity question was not raised in the early phases of the public comment process, no explicit provisions were made for testing this approach in the research conducted to inform the review of Directive No. 15. While a considerable amount of research was focused on how to improve the response rate to the Hispanic origin question, it is unclear whether and to what extent explicitly permitting multiple responses to the Hispanic origin question would affect nonresponse to the race question or hamper obtaining more detailed data on Hispanic population groups.

Information on the possible impact of any changes on the quality of the data has been an essential element of the review. While the effects of changes in the Hispanic origin question are unknown, they could conceivably be substantial. Thus, OMB has decided not to include a provision in the standards that would explicitly permit respondents to select both "Hispanic origin" and "Not of Hispanic Origin" options. OMB believes that this is an item for future research. In the meantime, the ancestry question on the decennial census long form does provide respondents who consider themselves part Hispanic to write in additional heritages.

Research on an Arab/Middle Easterner category.--During the public comment process, OMB received a number of requests to add an ethnic category for Arabs/Middle Easterners so that data could be obtained that could be useful in monitoring discrimination. The public comment process indicated, however, that there was no agreement on a definition for this category. The combined race, Hispanic origin, and ancestry question in the RAETT, which was designed to address requests that were received from groups for establishing separate categories, did not provide a solution.

While OMB accepted the Interagency's Committee recommendation not to create a new category for this population group, OMB believes that further research should be done to determine the best way to improve data on this population group. Meanwhile, the write-ins to the ancestry question on the decennial census long form will continue to provide information on the number of individuals who identify their heritage as Arab or Middle Easterner.

E. Tabulation Issues

The revised standards retain the concept of a minimum set of categories for Federal data on race and ethnicity and make possible at the same time the collection of data to reflect the diversity of our Nation's population. Since the Interagency Committee's recommendation concerning the reporting of more than one race was made available for public comment, the focus of attention has been largely on how the data would be tabulated. Because of the concerns expressed about tabulation methods and our own view of the importance of this issue, OMB committed to accelerate the work on tabulation issues when it testified in July 1997 on the Interagency Committee's recommendations.

A group of statistical and policy analysts drawn from the Federal agencies that generate or use these data has spent the past few months considering the tabulation issues. Although this work is still in its early stages, some preliminary guidance can be shared at this time. In general, OMB believes that, consistent with criteria for confidentiality and data quality, the tabulation procedures used by the agencies should result in the production of as much detailed information on race and ethnicity as possible.

Guidelines for tabulation ultimately must meet the needs of at least two groups within the Federal Government, with the overriding objective of providing the most accurate and informative body of data. The first group is composed of those government officials charged with carrying out constitutional and legislative mandates, such as redistricting legislatures, enforcing civil rights laws, and monitoring progress in anti-discrimination programs. (The legislative redistricting file produced by the Bureau of the Census, also known as the Public Law 94-171 file, is an example of a file meeting such legislative needs.) The second group consists of the staff of statistical agencies producing and analyzing data that are used to monitor economic and social conditions and trends.

Many of the needs of the first group can be met with an initial tabulation that provides, consistent with standards for data quality and confidentiality, the full detail of racial reporting; that is, the number of people reporting in each single race category and the number reporting each of the possible combinations of races, which would add to the total population. Depending on the judgment of users, the combinations of multiple responses could be collapsed. One method would be to provide separate totals for those reporting in the most common multiple race combinations and to collapse the data for other less frequently reported combinations. The specifics of the collapsed distributions must await the results of particular data collections. A second method would be to report the total selecting each particular race, whether alone or in combination with other races. These totals would represent upper bounds on the size of the populations who identified with each of the racial categories. In some cases, this latter method could be used for comparing data collected under the old standards with data collected under the new standards. It is important that users with the same or closely related responsibilities adopt the same tabulation method. Regardless of the method chosen for collapsing multiple race responses, the total number reporting more than one race must be made available, if confidentiality and data quality requirements can be met, in order to ensure that any changes in response patterns resulting from the new standards can be monitored over time.

Meeting the needs of the second group (those producing and analyzing statistical data to monitor economic and social conditions and trends), as well as some additional needs of the first group, may require different tabulation procedures. More research must be completed before guidelines that will meet the requirements of these users can be developed. A group of statistical and policy experts will review a number of alternative procedures and provide recommendations to OMB concerning these tabulation requirements by Spring 1998. Four of the areas in which further exploration is needed are outlined below.

Equal employment opportunity and other anti-discrimination programs have traditionally provided the numbers of people in the population by selected characteristics, including racial categories, for business, academic, and government organizations to use in evaluating conformance with program objectives. Because of the potentially large number of categories that may result from application of the new standards, many with very small numbers, it is not clear how this need for data will be best satisfied in the future.

The numbers of people in distinct groups based on decennial census results are used in developing sample designs and survey controls for major demographic surveys. For example, the National Health Interview Survey uses census data to increase samples for certain population groups, adjust for survey non-response, and provide weights for estimating health outcomes at the national level. The impact of having data for many small population groups with multiple racial heritages must be explored.

Vital statistics data include birth and death rates for various population groups. Typically the numerator (number of births or deaths) is derived from administrative records, while the denominator comes from intercensal population estimates. Birth certificate data on race are likely to have been self reported by the mother. Over time, these data may become comparable to data collected under the new standards. Death certificate data, however, frequently are filled out by an observer, such as a mortician, physician, or funeral director. These data, particularly for the population with multiple racial heritages, are likely to be quite different from the information obtained when respondents report about themselves. Research to define comparable categories to be used in both numerators and denominators is needed to assure that vital statistics are as accurate and useful as possible.

More generally, statistical indicators are often used to measure change over time. Procedures that will permit meaningful comparisons of data collected under the previous standards with those that will be collected under the new standards need to be developed.

The methodology for tabulating data on race and ethnicity must be carefully developed and coordinated among the statistical agencies and other Federal data users. Moreover, just as OMB's review and decision processes have benefited during the past four years from extensive public participation, we expect to discuss tabulation methods with data users within and outside the Federal Government. OMB expects to issue additional guidance with respect to tabulating data on race and ethnicity by Fall 1998.

Sally Katzen
Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.


 

Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity

 

This classification provides a minimum standard for maintaining, collecting, and presenting data on race and ethnicity for all Federal reporting purposes. The categories in this classification are social-political constructs and should not be interpreted as being scientific or anthropological in nature. They are not to be used as determinants of eligibility for participation in any Federal program. The standards have been developed to provide a common language for uniformity and comparability in the collection and use of data on race and ethnicity by Federal agencies.

The standards have five categories for data on race: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White. There are two categories for data on ethnicity: "Hispanic or Latino," and "Not Hispanic or Latino."

1. Categories and Definitions

The minimum categories for data on race and ethnicity for Federal statistics, program administrative reporting, and civil rights compliance reporting are defined as follows:

-- American Indian or Alaska Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.

-- Asian. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

-- Black or African American. A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Terms such as "Haitian" or "Negro" can be used in addition to "Black or African American."

-- Hispanic or Latino. A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. The term, "Spanish origin," can be used in addition to "Hispanic or Latino."

-- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

-- White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

Respondents shall be offered the option of selecting one or more racial designations. Recommended forms for the instruction accompanying the multiple response question are "Mark one or more" and "Select one or more."

2. Data Formats

The standards provide two formats that may be used for data on race and ethnicity. Self-reporting or self-identification using two separate questions is the preferred method for collecting data on race and ethnicity. In situations where self-reporting is not practicable or feasible, the combined format may be used.

In no case shall the provisions of the standards be construed to limit the collection of data to the categories described above. The collection of greater detail is encouraged; however, any collection that uses more detail shall be organized in such a way that the additional categories can be aggregated into these minimum categories for data on race and ethnicity.

With respect to tabulation, the procedures used by Federal agencies shall result in the production of as much detailed information on race and ethnicity as possible. However, Federal agencies shall not present data on detailed categories if doing so would compromise data quality or confidentiality standards.

a. Two-question format

To provide flexibility and ensure data quality, separate questions shall be used wherever feasible for reporting race and ethnicity. When race and ethnicity are collected separately, ethnicity shall be collected first. If race and ethnicity are collected separately, the minimum designations are:

Race:

-- American Indian or Alaska Native

-- Asian

-- Black or African American

-- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

-- White

Ethnicity:

-- Hispanic or Latino

-- Not Hispanic or Latino

When data on race and ethnicity are collected separately, provision shall be made to report the number of respondents in each racial category who are Hispanic or Latino.

When aggregate data are presented, data producers shall provide the number of respondents who marked (or selected) only one category, separately for each of the five racial categories. In addition to these numbers, data producers are strongly encouraged to provide the detailed distributions, including all possible combinations, of multiple responses to the race question. If data on multiple responses are collapsed, at a minimum the total number of respondents reporting "more than one race" shall be made available.

b. Combined format

The combined format may be used, if necessary, for observer-collected data on race and ethnicity. Both race (including multiple responses) and ethnicity shall be collected when appropriate and feasible, although the selection of one category in the combined format is acceptable. If a combined format is used, there are six minimum categories:

-- American Indian or Alaska Native

-- Asian

-- Black or African American

-- Hispanic or Latino

-- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

-- White

When aggregate data are presented, data producers shall provide the number of respondents who marked (or selected) only one category, separately for each of the six categories. In addition to these numbers, data producers are strongly encouraged to provide the detailed distributions, including all possible combinations, of multiple responses. In cases where data on multiple responses are collapsed, the total number of respondents reporting "Hispanic or Latino and one or more races" and the total number of respondents reporting "more than one race" (regardless of ethnicity) shall be provided.

3. Use of the Standards for Record Keeping and Reporting

The minimum standard categories shall be used for reporting as follows:

a. Statistical reporting

These standards shall be used at a minimum for all federally sponsored statistical data collections that include data on race and/or ethnicity, except when the collection involves a sample of such size that the data on the smaller categories would be unreliable, or when the collection effort focuses on a specific racial or ethnic group. Any other variation will have to be specifically authorized by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) through the information collection clearance process. In those cases where the data collection is not subject to the information collection clearance process, a direct request for a variance shall be made to OMB.

b. General program administrative and grant reporting

These standards shall be used for all Federal administrative reporting or record keeping requirements that include data on race and ethnicity. Agencies that cannot follow these standards must request a variance from OMB. Variances will be considered if the agency can demonstrate that it is not reasonable for the primary reporter to determine racial or ethnic background in terms of the specified categories, that determination of racial or ethnic background is not critical to the administration of the program in question, or that the specific program is directed to only one or a limited number of racial or ethnic groups.

c. Civil rights and other compliance reporting

These standards shall be used by all Federal agencies in either the separate or combined format for civil rights and other compliance reporting from the public and private sectors and all levels of government. Any variation requiring less detailed data or data which cannot be aggregated into the basic categories must be specifically approved by OMB for executive agencies. More detailed reporting which can be aggregated to the basic categories may be used at the agencies' discretion.

4. Presentation of Data on Race and Ethnicity

Displays of statistical, administrative, and compliance data on race and ethnicity shall use the categories listed above. The term "nonwhite" is not acceptable for use in the presentation of Federal Government data. It shall not be used in any publication or in the text of any report.

In cases where the standard categories are considered inappropriate for presentation of data on particular programs or for particular regional areas, the sponsoring agency may use:

a. The designations "Black or African American and Other Races" or "All Other Races" as collective descriptions of minority races when the most summary distinction between the majority and minority races is appropriate;

b. The designations "White," "Black or African American," and "All Other Races" when the distinction among the majority race, the principal minority race, and other races is appropriate; or

c. The designation of a particular minority race or races, and the inclusion of "Whites" with "All Other Races" when such a collective description is appropriate.

In displaying detailed information that represents a combination of race and ethnicity, the description of the data being displayed shall clearly indicate that both bases of classification are being used.

When the primary focus of a report is on two or more specific identifiable groups in the population, one or more of which is racial or ethnic, it is acceptable to display data for each of the particular groups separately and to describe data relating to the remainder of the population by an appropriate collective description.

5. Effective Date

The provisions of these standards are effective immediately for all new and revised record keeping or reporting requirements that include racial and/or ethnic information. All existing record keeping or reporting requirements shall be made consistent with these standards at the time they are submitted for extension, or not later than January 1, 2003.

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