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March virtual town halls on changing race/ethnicity data collection parameters for US Census

The United States Census Bureau is inviting the public provide feedback through town halls and the Federal Register Notice on proposed revisions to Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Federal Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnicity Standards (Working Group) are hosting three Town Halls in March to hear directly from the American public about the initial proposals to revise Statistical Policy Directive No. 15: Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity (SPD 15).

Town Hall 1: Tuesday, March 14 at 2pm ET
Town Hall 2: Friday, March 17 at 2pm ET
Town Hall 3: Saturday, March 18 at 2pm ET
OMB Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnicity Standards
???? The Town Halls will be accessible via Webex and audio through Verizon. More details will be forthcoming.

The initial proposals can be found on January 27’s Federal Register Notice Initial Proposals For Updating OMB’s Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards, which closes on April 12, 2023.

Tribal Consultation: OMB is also hosting a Tribal Consultation on March 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. ET. Tribal leaders were sent a formal letter on February 14 and information is being shared by the National Indian Health Board and the National Congress of American Indians.

OMB maintains government-wide standards for federal race and ethnicity data that ensure our ability to compare information and data across federal agencies, and to understand how well federal programs serve a diverse America.

On June 15, 2022, the Chief Statistician of the United States identified updating the standards as a top priority to ensure that the standards better reflect the diversity of the American people. The Working Group was created to lead this effort and was charged with proposing recommendations for improving the quality and usefulness of federal race and ethnicity data.

On January 26, 2023, OMB released an initial set of recommended revisions proposed by the Working Group to revise OMB’s SPD 15, last revised in 1997.

The public is invited to provide feedback through the Federal Register Notice (FRN) on the proposed revisions by April 12, 2023.

The initial proposals include:

• Collecting race and ethnicity information using one combined question.
• Adding “Middle Eastern or North African” (MENA) as a new response category.
• Requiring the collection of detailed race and ethnicity categories by default.

The Working Group is also asking for public comment on how best to revise SPD 15’s:
• Terminology, definitions, and question wording.
• Guidance on implementation and adoption of revised standards.
• Guidance on how to collect and report administrative and proxy data.

These recommendations are preliminary and they do not represent the final positions of OMB or the agencies participating on the Working Group.

Citizen feedback will help guide the Working Group as they develop their final recommendations to OMB and will also help OMB determine how to revise SPD 15 to improve the quality and usefulness of federal race and ethnicity data.

OMB and the Working Group have set the goal of completing these important revisions by the Summer of 2024.

For more information on the FRN, providing feedback, or OMB’s process for revising SPD 15, go to

More Information About the Census Bureau
The agency says it is the nation’s leading provider of quality data about its people and economy. The Census Bureau is the federal government’s largest statistical agency. As the world’s premier statistical agency, we are dedicated to making our nation a better place. Policy-makers, businesses, and the public use our data to make informed decisions.

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