A new report outlines key recommendations for the Chief Statistician to strengthen federal data disaggregation efforts to uplift Asian American and Pacific Islander communities

April 16, 2024 — A policy report published today by a group of national Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) organizations urges action on behalf of the federal government to implement recently announced changes to race and ethnicity data collection standards in a timely and successful manner.

The report comes just off the heels of the federal government’s announcement of major revisions to how race and ethnicity data are collected across all federal agencies, under Statistical Policy Directive (SPD) 15 — including updates to the minimum reporting categories that add Middle Eastern and North African and Hispanic/Latino to a combined category of race and ethnicity; and making detailed reporting categories, such as Vietnamese, Samoan, Haitian, and Cherokee, the default expectation for all federal agency data collections.

AANHPI-serving organizations are focused primarily on the timely and successful implementation of the detailed reporting categories, as data disaggregation is a longstanding priority for the diverse ethnic groups represented across Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

The three key recommendations outlined in the report are all directed toward the Chief Statistician of the United States, who is charged with providing coordination, guidance, and oversight for U.S. federal statistical agencies and activities:

  1. The Chief Statistician must publish a data disaggregation inventory of all current federal agency data collections by September 2024
  2. The Chief Statistician must clearly designate a centralized, coordinated body within the Office of Statistical Programs & Standards that will monitor, evaluate, and provide technical assistance across agencies by June 2024
  3. The Chief Statistician must convene the Interagency Committee on Race and Ethnicity Standards by June 2024 and begin receiving input on the collection of detailed categories by September 2024 from experts in community organizations and scientific research institutions

This policy report and key recommendations are being released publicly at a Congressional staff briefing being held today in Washington, D.C., hosted by a number of AANHPI-serving organizations in conjunction with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC).

The report coauthors shared the following statements as part of today’s release:

“Data that is accurate and reflective of our communities’ identities and experiences has the power to change the lives of countless Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders across the country,” said Akil Vohra, Director of Policy at AAPI Data. “That is why the major changes to SPD 15 regarding disaggregated data are so powerful — and critical to be implemented in a timely, efficient, and community-driven manner. The implementation recommendations we collectively conceived in this report are urgent for our communities, and we are committed to working alongside all federal agencies to help see them through.”

“While we continue to celebrate the recent changes to SPD 15 that will improve the quality of data collection on AANHPI communities, we know our work is not yet done,” said Gregg Orton, National Director at NCAPA. “This policy report is a key part of our continued advocacy to ensure that disaggregated data collection efforts for AANHPIs are implemented in a timely and effective manner. Better data means more visibility for our communities, and NCAPA is proud to advocate for data policy that more fully recognizes the diversity of AANHPI lived experiences.”

“The highest disparities within the Asian American community are often faced by smaller Southeast Asian communities. Because of that, our communities have advocated for disaggregating AANHPI data for over twenty years. SPD 15 is a historic policy and requires strong community input to ensure that the data collected and reported will be equitable,” Quyen Dinh, Executive Director at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). “These recommendations are necessary steps the Administration must take to ensure that the experiences of all southeast Asian groups, such as the Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, and Mien communities, are represented in our data.” 

“The recently announced revisions to federal race and ethnicity data standards are just the beginning — and EPIC looks forward to ensuring Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander voices and experiences are uplifted throughout the implementation process,” said Sina Uipi, Policy Associate at EPIC. “The recommendations outlined in this policy report will help create a critical data foundation for the recognition, respect and resources our NHPI communities deserve as we continue to build our collective legacies.”

About AAPI Data
AAPI Data is a national research and policy organization producing accurate data to support community narratives that drive action toward enduring solutions for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities.

About NCAPA
Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of forty-one national Asian Pacific American organizations. We represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities and provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns.

About SEARAC
SEARAC is a national civil rights organization that builds power with diverse communities from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to create a socially just and equitable society. As representatives of the largest refugee community ever resettled in the United States, SEARAC stands together with other refugee communities, communities of color, and social justice movements in pursuit of social equity. 

About EPIC
EPIC is a pro-Black, pro-indigenous and anti-racist national advocacy organization based in Los Angeles that was established in 2009 to advance social justice for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) in the U.S. diaspora through culture-centered advocacy, leadership development, research, and narrative change.