How Agencies Can More Equitably Collect Data on Race and Ethnicity

How Agencies Can More Equitably Collect Data on Race and Ethnicity

Mathematica Submits Recommendations for Improving Federal Race and Ethnicity Standards
Apr 20, 2023

Mathematica responded on April 19 to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) request for comment regarding proposed revisions to federal statistical standards for collecting and reporting race and ethnicity data across federal agencies. These initial proposals were developed by the Federal Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnicity Standards (Working Group), with the stated goal of improving the quality and usefulness of federal race and ethnicity data.

In its response to OMB, Mathematica highlighted the organization’s extensive expertise and understanding of accurate and comprehensive data to promote justice and equity.

Mathematica’s response focused on recommendations for:

  • Strengthening the collection and analysis of data for people who identify with multiple racial or ethnic categories;
  • Adding “Middle Eastern or North African (MENA)” as a new minimum category to questions of racial and ethnic identity in federal surveys, and ensuring groups of different nationalities and ethnicities are adequately represented;
  • Helping agencies balance the need for detailed race and ethnicity categories with concerns of survey quality and participant burden;
  • Implementing Special Policy Directive 15, which defines minimum standards for collecting and presenting data on race and ethnicity for all federal reporting; and;
  • The need for OMB to provide guidance related to data collection and analysis of the minimum and detailed questions.

Additionally, Mathematica recommended utilizing community-based research to inform further study in the following areas:

  • Ordering of response categories when collecting data on race and ethnicity;
  • Preferred and appropriate terminology to be fully inclusive of all Indigenous people;
  • Preferred terminology for members of the Hispanic and Latino community; and
  • Terms and questions related to the population of descendants of enslaved peoples, to develop a standardized approach for surveys or forms.