Government /

Biden Administration Releases New Standards for Race-Related Data Collection

'These revisions will enhance our ability... to understand how well federal programs serve a diverse America,' said the Office of Budget Management

Biden Administration Releases New Standards for Race-Related Data Collection

The Biden administration has established new protocols for the collection of federal data on race and ethnicity.

The standards have not been revised since 1997. The federal government believes the changes will better capture modern perceptions of race and ethnicity but did not specify which agencies will be impacted by the change.

The White House Office of Budget Management (OBM) released the directive on March 28.

Thanks to the hard work of staff across dozens of federal agencies and input from thousands of members of the public, these updated standards will help create more useful, accurate, and up to date federal data on race and ethnicity,” the office said in a statement. “These revisions will enhance our ability to compare information and data across federal agencies, and also to understand how well federal programs serve a diverse America.”

The office reported that its Interagency Technical Working Group of Federal Government career staff hosted over 100 listening sessions and read more than 20,000 comments while developing the standard changes.

The new standards are part of the Statistical Policy Directive No. 15: Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. The OBM believes the changes will “result in more accurate and useful race and ethnicity data across the Federal government.”

Federal agencies are required to update their forms and surveys and to use one combined question about race and ethnicity to solicit information about the respondent’s identity. Respondents can select multiple options, including the newly added option of "Middle Eastern or North Africa." Impacted agencies will need to submit a compliance plan within 18 months and be in compliance within five years.

“Since the 1997 revision to SPD 15, there have been large societal, political, economic, and demographic shifts in the United States, including increasing racial and ethnic diversity, a growing number of people who identify as more than one race or ethnicity, and changing immigration and migration patterns,” the OBM said in a document published by the Federal Register.

According to Reuters, “the new standards will not impact the issue of repayment for slavery or reparations” because the “collection of data from Black Americans to determine those who descended from enslaved people requires more research.”

President Joe Biden’s government began reviewing the data collection in June of 2022. The Biden-Harris administration released a set of recommendations for the advancement of the use of “equitable data” in April 2022. The recommendations included the formation of the Equitable Data Working Group which was tasked with studying “existing federal data collection policies, programs, and infrastructure to identify inadequacies and provide recommendations that lay out a strategy for increasing data available for measuring equity and representing the diversity of the American people.”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*