The Leadership Conference Applauds New Federal Standards for Race and Ethnicity Data Collection

Contact: Rachel Hooper, [email protected], Dena Craig, [email protected] 

Updated OMB standards a major step forward for accurately measuring nation’s diversity

WASHINGTON — The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights released the following statement after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) revised federal standards for the collection of race and ethnicity data, allowing for federal data that better reflect the country’s diversity. The new OMB standards, which had not been updated since 1997, will now give the federal government, policymakers, and civil rights organizations a more accurate picture of how civil rights compliance and other programs are being utilized across different racial and ethnic groups. 

The United States is an immigrant nation that is a diverse mosaic of nationalities, ethnicities, and backgrounds — and our census must reflect that. That’s why we are gratified to see the inclusion of a Middle Eastern/North African category, the requirements for detailed data collection, and a combined question format, all of which — properly researched, tested, and implemented — are an important step towards ensuring that people of every background are represented in our democracy.

“The new race and ethnicity data standards released today include several updates called for by the civil rights community for decades. And while it is a huge step in the right direction, we know there is still additional work to be done to move the standards to reflect the full racial and ethnic diversity of our population, particularly for the Black diaspora,” said Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “The previous federal race and ethnicity data collection standards did not allow for accurate measurement of our nation’s full diversity and prevented many individuals from seeing themselves reflected in the race and ethnicity categories offered in the census and other federal data activities.”

We are concerned that the Office of Management and Budget has already specified the required detailed categories prior to engaging in the due diligence, research, and testing as to what would elicit inclusive and accurate responses for those who identify with more than one racial or ethnic category,” said Meeta Anand, senior director of the census and data equity program at The Leadership Conference.

We urge OMB and the Census Bureau to engage in research and testing to address these concerns. We look forward to seeing robust community engagement by OMB and the Census Bureau leading to the successful implementation of the standards. 

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 240 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit