OMB Revises Federal Guidance on Collection of Race and Ethnicity Information

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently published revisions to Statistical Policy Directi...

Posted by Therecia Davis on April 2 2024

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently published revisions to Statistical Policy Directive No. 15: Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity, its first since 1997. These revisions will affect how employers gather the race and ethnicity data that is required for their federal reporting obligations.

In June 2022, the Interagency Technical Working Group, comprised of federal government career staff representing 35 agencies, convened to develop recommendations for improving the quality and usefulness of federal race and ethnicity data. One of the primary goals of this effort was to enhance the ability to compare information and data across federal agencies as well as facilitate more useful, accurate, and up to date federal data on race and ethnicity. The Working Group relied on research conducted over the last decade as well as public input to make their recommendation. They held listening sessions, virtual townhalls, and received over 20,000 comments in response to a January 2023 Federal Register Notice proposing revisions to the Directive.

Final Recommendations

The Working Group’s final recommendations make key revisions to questions used to collect information on race and ethnicity.  These include:

  • Using one combined question for race and ethnicity, and encouraging respondents to select as many options as apply to how they identify,
  • Adding Middle Eastern or North African as a new minimum category.  The new set of minimum race and/or ethnicity categories include:
    • American Indian or Alaska Native
    • Asian
    • Black or African American
    • Hispanic
    • Middle Eastern or North African
    • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
    • White
  • Requiring the collection of additional detail beyond the minimum required race and ethnicity categories for most situations, to ensure further disaggregation in the collection, tabulation, and presentation of data when useful and appropriate.

Additionally, the updated standards will include revisions to definitions, terminology, and guidance to agencies on the collection and presentation of data.

Implementation and Compliance

Employers do not need to change any part of their process or forms at this time, as changes will begin with federal agencies. The revised directive gives federal agencies a deadline of 5 years to update their data collections and programs and requires that they submit an Agency Action Plan within 18 months that will outline how they plan to achieve compliance.

It is expected that many agencies will be able to meet the updated standards much sooner than the 5 year deadline. The Office of the U.S. Chief Statistician has stated it will direct its efforts to help agencies collect and release data under these updated standards as quickly as possible.  


Read the updated Directive No. 15 on the Federal Register as well as at

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