“Our Nation deserves an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.”
On day one, President Biden laid out an equity agenda for the nation that declared equal opportunity to be the bedrock of American democracy.
The federal government can be a significant driver of more equitable outcomes and gathering the right data is a necessary step in this effort.
The President’s Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government formed the Equitable Data Working Group and tasked us to identify inadequacies and areas of improvement within Federal data and outline a strategy for increasing data available for measuring equity and representing the diversity of the American people and their experiences.
For example, on health and health care status, we have a patchwork of data – from community clinics and hospitals, national surveys, or Medicare and Medicaid – but they are not often interoperable or sufficiently disaggregated — broken down and analyzed by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income, veteran status, age, or other key demographic variables. With the right data, we should be able to see whether Black women are getting the same standard of maternal care as other women when engaging with a government service. Or even more specifically, whether Black women in different age cohorts are getting the same health care support – and if they have different outcomes.
Co-Chaired by the head of OSTP and Deputy Assistant to the President, Dr. Alondra Nelson, and Dr. Margo Schwab of the Office of Management and Budget, the Working Group sought to outline practices that will allow the federal government to analyze whether its programs and policies produce consistently fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, as well as identify opportunities for targeted actions that will result in improved outcomes for underserved and disadvantaged communities. To meet that goal, the Working Group developed a case study approach to the work, focusing efforts on a set of equity-centered questions that have been difficult to answer in the past for lack of sufficient or disaggregated data. In addition to the case studies, the Working Group led robust consultations with advocates, experts, and impacted communities, as well as robust interagency work to identify gaps and begin to make progress in addressing them.
The work to implement the report recommendations, develop further thinking on these important issues, and engage with the broader community of advocates, scholars, and scientists to advance a long-term vision for equity, data, and policymaking will continue. Actions to make progress toward the vision for equitable data will be done in collaboration with, and be supportive of, related federal equity efforts, including; those pursued by the Gender Policy Council, WHIAANHPI, and Justice40, as well as work underway to improve data collection related to achieving the President’s scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking, health equity, environmental justice, and federal diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility commitments.