REPORT: Attacks on Federal Data and Civil Rights Persist, Cause Harm to American Communities

March 14, 2019

For Immediate Release
Contact: LaGloria Wheatfall, [email protected], 202.548.7160

WASHINGTON – The federal government’s persistent failure to protect data can undermine efforts to remedy the wage gap, weaken our ability to address criminal justice trends, and otherwise harm civil rights enforcement, according to a new report. The Leadership Conference Education Fund issued Misinformation Nation II: A Deeper Dive into Threats to Federal Civil Rights Data Collection, which catalogs lapses in civil rights-related data collection – lapses that weakens the federal government’s ability to craft effective policy. The report also includes principles that inform federal data collection and spur stronger civil rights enforcement.

“Good data are often the first step toward strong policy and enforcement efforts, but the Trump administration is undermining critical data development in many ways,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Education Fund. “Throughout Republican and Democratic administrations, the public has relied on our government to provide objective, relevant, accurate, and timely information. The current administration’s assault on objective data flouts the laws used to enforce and protect our civil rights.”

The federal government collects, analyzes, and publishes a considerable amount of statistical information on the U.S. population, including population size and distribution, wages and employment, housing conditions and housing finance, health and medical needs, and crime rates. These data help identify and remedy disparities that undermine equal opportunity and harm vulnerable communities.

The Education Fund proposes a set of civil rights principles to ensure the continued availability and value of federal data for civil rights policy and enforcement purposes:

  • Prioritize public input for civil rights data.
  • Maintain public accessibility of civil rights data.
  • Collect data that enhances the visibility of all communities.
  • Adopt civil rights protections for the era of “big data.”
  • Appoint nonpartisan professionals to leadership positions.

The report, Misinformation Nation II: A Deeper Dive into Threats to Federal Civil Rights Data Collection, is available here.

In December 2017, The Education Fund released a data collection policy brief, Misinformation Nation: The Threat to America’s Federal Data and Civil Rights, which provides an overview of the importance of federal data collection and describes several existing threats to available data. That paper can be viewed here.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit