Tell the federal government to improve its race and ethnicity data standards!

Act now to ensure that federal race and ethnicity data include ALL of our communities

To build an America as good as its ideals, we need accurate data that reflect the full diversity of our communities — allowing us to identify and address inequities and protect civil rights. 
The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) race and ethnicity data standards, which set forth the minimum categories that federal agencies must use when they collect information on race and ethnicity, are being revised for the first time since 1997. Given increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the United States and a growing number of people who identify as more than one race and/or ethnicity, many people do not see their identities reflected in the categories available under OMB’s current standards, leading to less accurate federal data that mask inequalities.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s extensive research on race and ethnicity data collection supports three key proposed revisions to OMB’s standards:
  • Adopt a combined race and ethnicity question format.
  • Add a new, distinct ethnicity category for people from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
  • Require agencies to collect and report disaggregated data for detailed subgroups (via checkboxes and write-in spaces under the larger categories) to the fullest extent possible.
The bureau’s research over the past decade shows that these changes would better reflect the ways that many people in the United States self-identify, yielding more accurate and useful federal data.
Good data are the foundation for understanding the share of resources our communities receive, developing equitable policy, enforcing civil rights, and more. This is a historic opportunity to modernize how race and ethnicity data are collected to reflect our nation’s rich and growing diversity and advance data equity for our communities. Now is the time to improve how the federal government collects this data so that more of us will see ourselves included in it!
Take action now to urge OMB to improve its race and ethnicity data standards!
  1. Let OMB know why updated race and ethnicity standards are important to you. Add your name and email address and customize the message below to submit your comment directly to OMB! 
  2. Your organization can also sign on here to comments prepared by The Leadership Conference and our coalition partners in response to OMB’s Federal Register Notice!
  3. Educate your networks and communities about the importance of revising the OMB standards by sharing this page and the resources below!
Resources on OMB Race and Ethnicity Data Standards Revisions
Directive 15 Fact Sheet: This fact sheet provides guidance on OMB’s Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 and explains why OMB Directive 15 no longer reflects the full racial and ethnic diversity of the nation’s population or the way many people choose to identify themselves. It also outlines improvements that many civil rights stakeholders are calling for to modernize the standards.
FAQ: Updating OMB’s Race and Ethnicity Data Standards: This FAQ from The Leadership Conference Education Fund provides background on the current standards, information on the key revisions proposed, and an overview of OMB’s revision process and opportunities for stakeholder input.
Fact sheet and FAQ: Why do we need a combined race and ethnicity question? Among the key proposed revisions is the adoption of a combined race and ethnicity question format. Under OMB’s current standards, race and ethnicity data are collected through two separate questions, with the ethnicity question (asking about Hispanic or Latino origin) placed before the race question. This FAQ from The Leadership Conference Education Fund explains why adopting a combined question would be a critical step forward in allowing more people to see themselves accurately reflected in federal data.
History and Implications of OMB Race and Ethnicity Data Standards. This recent webinar from The Leadership Conference includes a history of the standards and efforts to revise them, an overview of research findings supporting the need for several key revisions to the standards, and a discussion of the uses and implications of federal race and ethnicity data for civil rights programs, research, and policy development. Slides and other resources from the webinar are available here.
See here for additional resources on revisions to the OMB standards!
This comment portal was built in partnership with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Please contact Amy Vertal ( and Meeta Anand ( with any questions.