OMB Publishes Revisions to Statistical Policy Directive No. 15:

Advancing Justice – AAJC Applauds Requirement to Collect Additional Detail Beyond the Minimum, Improving Data Collection for Asian American Communities
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144

Washington, DC – Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian American Justice Center (Advancing Justice – AAJC) applauds Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for requiring the collection of additional detail beyond the minimum in data collection in most instances for Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 (SPD 15). In addition to requiring the collection of further detail, the standards—which have not been updated since 1997—call for using one combined question to ask about race and ethnicity as well as the inclusion of a Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) category. These revisions reflect recommendations Advancing Justice – AAJC has made through direct engagement with OMB and within our public comments

“We are pleased that OMB has listened to advocacy groups like Advancing Justice – AAJC and revised their standards to reflect those recommendations, which includes requiring data disaggregation, a combined question about race and ethnicity, and the addition of a MENA category,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice – AAJC. This is something we have been advocating for extensively for more than a decade.” 

Historically, most agencies opted not to disaggregate their data by subgroup despite having the option to do so under the previous standards. Requiring the collection of additional detail beyond the minimum underscores the necessity of data disaggregation for accuracy and advocacy. OMB’s decision validates the importance of data disaggregation to so many communities because these new standards will help make once invisible communities more visible. 

Furthermore, we support OMB’s creation of the Interagency Committee on Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards and its commitment to conducting more regular reviews of SPD 15. By revisiting the standards every ten years—and engaging the public in the process—OMB will help ensure that the standards reflect how race and ethnicity evolve over time.

“Today’s issuance of the revisions is merely the first step in the long-awaited modernization of our nation’s race and ethnicity standards. Together with OMB, other agencies, and our partners, we look forward to beginning the substantive work of implementing these revisions,” said Terry Ao Minnis, Vice President of Census and Voting Programs. “Additionally, further research is needed to better inform the standards, including ensuring the detailed groups used will in fact elicit the best responses across all racial and ethnic groups, such as through proper signaling to the diverse set of detailed subgroups in each category. OMB and other agencies must continue meaningful engagement with community groups as they begin to implement these revised standards; continued coordination with advocacy groups will ensure that data are accessible and usable for the broader public—not just federal agencies and experts.”   

Advancing Justice – AAJC considers data collection and reporting to be the backbone of its mission. The revised standards will help better document the diversity of the Asian American community, who are among our nation’s fastest growing and most diverse racial groups. Often viewed as homogenous, these communities include more than 30 detailed subgroups that can differ dramatically across key social and economic indicators. Requiring the collection of data on Asian American subgroups (in other words, disaggregation) will contribute to a fuller understanding of our communities, including how to best serve the most marginalized subgroups.