GAO Briefing on Race and Ethnicity Data Standards

By PAA Web posted 06-06-2019 00:00

  

Dr. Irma Elo, University of Pennsylvania, and Ms. Katherine Wallman, Chief Statistician, U.S. Office of Management and Budget (retired)On June 6, 2019, the PAA sponsored its first briefing of the year for the employees of the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO, an independent, investigative, nonpartisan agency, conducts research and produces reports in response to requests from the United States Congress. Since 2011, PAA has sponsored an average of two annual GAO briefings. The briefings are an excellent forum for bringing population scientists and policy high-level policy analysts together to share relevant, timely research findings and data.

This briefing, “Checking the Box: Updating Race and Ethnicity Standards in Federal Surveys,” featured two PAA members, Dr. Irma Elo, University of Pennsylvania, and Ms. Katherine Wallman, Chief Statistician, U.S. Office of Management and Budget (retired). Dr. Elo reviewed the federal government’s standards for collecting race and ethnicity data. She also reviewed the history of recent efforts to revise and update the standards—including a proposed Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) category. Dr. Elo illustrated challenges population scientists face when using federal race and ethnicity data. Ms. Wallman discussed the political and historical context in which the standards have evolved. She also described the work that a recent federal interagency working group conducted to update and revise the standards.

Over 30 analysts attended the briefing in person, while other analysts observed the briefing via webcast. The questions addressed a variety of topics including the origin of the Hispanic question, imputation, respondent behavior, and methodological strategies for interpreting data that deviates from the federal standards.

See Dr. Elo’s slides.

Read more information about the PAA GAO briefing series.


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