For Immediate Release: March 28, 2024
Contact: Randy Bunnao,

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) applauds today’s announcement by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to update its standards for maintaining, collecting, and presenting federal data on race and ethnicity. This Directive, known as Statistical Policy Directive (SPD) No. 15, has not been updated since 1997. NAPAWF participated in early consultations on this updated directive when the current Administration began its due diligence. 

“With over 50 Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) ethnic groups, these new recommendations are a solid step forward on data equity and collection,” said Tuyet Duong, Chief Policy and Government Affairs Officer at NAPAWF. “In practice, this will help fill knowledge gaps related to the calculation of gender wage inequities, reporting of pregnancy-related deaths, and addressing language access barriers for especially impacted AANHPI communities. This data will directly impact how to build a more robust policy agenda that moves the needle on economic justice and reproductive justice issues for our communities.”

In addition to these key updates, the updated directive requires federal agencies to create dedicated action plans detailing how they will collect data on race beyond the minimum requirements and, if unable to, their reasons for not doing so. Agencies acting beyond minimum requirements will support Southeast Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and South Asian equity agendas. 

“However, due to the extra timelines and waivers given to agencies to create action plans pursuant to this guidance, it’s clear that federal agencies continue to be resistant to the deep policy change that can advance data equity,” said Duong.

In past years, OMB has limited the collection of racial data to six categories: (1) Asian alone, (2) American Indian or Alaskan Native, (3) Asian or Pacific Islander, (4) Black, not of Hispanic origin, (5) Hispanic, and (6) White, not of Hispanic origin. 

Within the Asian categories, today’s recommendations from the Federal Data Working Group include clarifying “Far East” as not part of the Asian category, the replacement of “Indian subcontinent” with “South Asia”, and no longer describing Pacific Islander as “Other Pacific Islander”. Additionally, data will also be collected and reported for a new category, “Middle Eastern or North African” (MENA) communities. 

Key NAPAWF reports demonstrating the critical nature of data equity include reports on medication abortion and annual statistics on AANHPI Women’s Equal Pay Day.

“Federal resources and programs cannot fully address the health and economic needs of AANHPI women and girls until they disaggregate critical federal datasets beyond the minimum required by OMB. This is the beginning of a long-term investment that constitutes a real pathway towards achieving true racial equity,” said Duong.

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The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build collective power so that all AAPI women and girls can have full agency over our lives, our families, and our communities.