Action on health equity is top of mind for most of us in healthcare and public health. Analyzing health inequities can include identifying where disparities exist, by using data to identify health differences between groups. Yet researchers and practitioners have drawn attention to limitations of existing data sources for measuring health disparities.
At this time, the standards for federal race and ethnicity data are being updated. Relevant to all our readers, “Terminology, definitions, and question wording” are a concern in the updating effort. Your voice is important, and the public are invited to provide feedback.
The initial proposals can be found on January 27’s Federal Register Notice Initial Proposals For Updating OMB’s Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards, which closes on April 12, 2023.Here’s additional information from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Census Bureau website:
“OMB maintains government-wide standards for federal race and ethnicity data that ensure our ability to compare information and data across federal agencies, and to understand how well federal programs serve a diverse America.
On June 15, 2022, the Chief Statistician of the United States identified updating the standards as a top priority to ensure that the standards better reflect the diversity of the American people. The Working Group was created to lead this effort and was charged with proposing recommendations for improving the quality and usefulness of federal race and ethnicity data.
On January 26, 2023, OMB released an initial set of recommended revisions proposed by the Working Group to revise OMB’s SPD 15, last revised in 1997.
The public is invited to provide feedback through the Federal Register Notice (FRN) on the proposed revisions by April 12, 2023.”
A recent “Save the Date” email from the U.S. Census Bureau provided the following information:
Public Webinars (or Town Halls)
March 1, 2023 — The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Federal Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnicity Standards (Working Group) are hosting three Town Halls to hear directly from the American public about the initial proposals to revise Statistical Policy Directive No. 15: Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity (SPD 15).
Town Hall 1: Tuesday, March 14 at 2pm ET
Town Hall 2: Friday, March 17 at 2pm ET
Town Hall 3: Saturday, March 18 at 2pm ET
💻 The Town Halls will be accessible via Webex and audio through Verizon. More details will be forthcoming.
Tribal Consultation: OMB is also hosting a Tribal Consultation on March 16 from 2 pm – 4 pm ET. Tribal leaders were sent a formal letter on February 14 and information is being shared by the National Indian Health Board and the National Congress of American Indians.
The initial proposals include:
Collecting race and ethnicity information using one combined question.
Adding “Middle Eastern or North African” (MENA) as a new response category.
Requiring the collection of detailed race and ethnicity categories by default.
The Working Group is also asking for public comment on how best to revise SPD 15’s:
Terminology, definitions, and question wording.
Guidance on implementation and adoption of revised standards.
Guidance on how to collect and report administrative and proxy data.
These recommendations are preliminary and they do not represent the final positions of OMB or the agencies participating on the Working Group.
Your feedback will help guide the Working Group as they develop their final recommendations to OMB and will also help OMB determine how to revise SPD 15 to improve the quality and usefulness of federal race and ethnicity data.
OMB and the Working Group have set the goal of completing these important revisions by the Summer of 2024.
For more information on the FRN, providing feedback, or OMB’s process for revising SPD 15, visit https://spd15revision.gov
Submitting comments online
Another way for the public to share their perspectives and input with the Working Group is through submitting comments online. From the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Census Bureau website:
Public Comments to Federal Register Notice
OMB requests comments on the initial proposals from the Federal Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnicity Standards (Working Group) for revising OMB’s 1997 Statistical Policy Directive No. 15: Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity (SPD 15).
Responses to this Notice will be shared with the Working Group and will help the Working Group develop their final recommendations to OMB and will also help OMB determine how to revise SPD 15 to improve the quality and usefulness of Federal race and ethnicity data.
DATES: Comments must be provided in writing to OMB no later than 75 days from the publication of this notice to ensure consideration during the final decision-making process.
ADDRESSES: Please submit comments via www.regulations.gov, a Federal Web site that allows the public to find, review, and submit comments on documents that agencies have published in the Federal Register and that are open for comment. Simply type “OMB-2023-0001” in the Comment or Submission search box, click Go, and follow the instructions for submitting comments.
Comments submitted in response to this notice are subject to the Freedom of Information Act and may be made available to the public. For this reason, please do not include any information of a confidential nature, such as sensitive personal information or proprietary information. If you submit your email address, it will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket. Please note that responses to this public comment request containing any routine notice about the confidentiality of the communication will be treated as public comments that may be made available to the public notwithstanding the inclusion of the routine notice.