Government Set To Update Census: How It Classifies Americans

( – The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last updated its standards for “collecting and presenting… data on race and ethnicityā€¯ (SPD 15) in 1997. The change established two categories for the Census Bureau to use for ethnicity: Hispanic and Latino and non-Hispanic or Latino. The revision also included a “minimum” of five categories for race: white, native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Asian. The government agency recently changed SPD 15 and how it classifies Americans.

On March 28, Dr. Karin Orvis, the United States’ chief statistician, issued a press release on the White House website announcing the OMB’s publication of a set of revisions to SPD 15. The updates added “Middle Eastern or North African” and “Hispanic or Latino” to the list. The following day, the OMB published the official copy of the changes in the Federal Register, a daily journal published by the National Archives to provide legal notice of administrative notices, rules, and presidential documents.

Ovis said the changes will “enhance” the OMB’s “ability to compare information and date across federal agencies.” She also noted that the updates will help the office determine “how well federal programs serve a diverse American.”

The revisions to SPD 15 went into effect on March 28 for “all new record keeping or reporting requirements” that included ethnic or racial information. The OMB instructed federal agencies to update their administrative forms and surveys “as quickly as possible.”

The standards also required federal entities to create an Agency Action plan for full compliance “within 18 months. Additionally, the OMB’s changes required all government agencies to update their data collection and programs to meet the new standards within five years. The Office of the US Chief Statistician will oversee those changes and help federal agencies switch to the new system.

The Census Bureau issued a statement applauding the “scientific integrity” shown throughout the collaborative effort among federal agencies to help the OMB develop the revised standards. The bureau conducts a national survey every 10 years. The next one is scheduled for 2030. Other studies, like the annual American Community Survey, are conducted more frequently.

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