The Office of Management and Budget March 28 released its final updated standards for Federal agencies on maintaining, collecting and presenting data on race and ethnicity. Last updated in 1997, the revised Statistical Policy Directive Number 15 is the product of an OMB Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnicity Standards. While SPD 15 does not mandate race and ethnicity data collection by federal agencies, it requires federal agencies to adhere to standardized data definitions, collection and presentation practices wherever they do collect or use such data. Among other changes, the revised SPD 15 requires that race and ethnicity be collected using a single question with multiple responses, superseding OMB’s previous requirement to collect Hispanic ethnicity as a separate question. In addition, SPD 15 adds a category for Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) as a minimum reporting category and requires federal agencies to collect more detailed information on race and ethnicity beyond the seven minimum reporting categories. However, agencies may request and receive exemptions from OMB in instances where the potential benefit of more detailed data do not justify the additional burden to the agency or the public, or where the collection of more detailed data would threaten privacy or confidentiality. 

The updated SPD 15 is effective immediately. However, federal agencies have until March 28, 2029, to bring existing data collection and reporting activities into compliance with the updated SPD 15 and must submit action plans to OMB on how they will comply with the requirements by Sep. 28, 2025.

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