Washington Update

OMB Revises Standards for Race and Ethnicity Data

By: Yvette Seger
Wednesday, April 10, 2024
On March 28, the Office of Management and Budget (OBM) published revisions to Statistical Policy Directive No. 15: Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity (SPD 15). The updates – the first since 1997 – were led by the Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnicity Standards and reflect nearly two years of engagement across federal agencies and the public via stakeholder consultations and listening sessions, town halls, and public comments.

Key revisions to SPD 15 include:
  • Using a single, combined question for race and ethnicity that instructs respondents to select as many options as applicable to their self-identification;
  • Addition of “Middle Eastern or North African” as a new minimum category for self-describing race and/or ethnicity;
  • Requiring collection of information beyond the minimum required race and ethnicity categories to allow further disaggregation of data.
These updates reflect FASEB’s feedback on the proposed changes and the approach taken by the Federation for its annual volunteer demographic survey. At the federal level, the changes require agencies to develop action plans for updating surveys and administrative forms within the next 18 months, with the goal for all data collections and programs to be compliant with the updated SPD 15 within five years.