Published Date: June 20, 2024

In March 2024, for the first time since 1997, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) expanded its race and ethnicity standards to capture historically excluded communities, such as Arab Americans and other Middle East and North Africa populations, which will now be visible in federal data collection. This expansion will better reflect the nation’s diversity and lead to more equitable distribution of resources as well as more targeted interventions. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has long advocated for expanded and more sophisticated data collection, funding research to enhance policies and practices that encourage data disaggregation. More recently, RWJF’s National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems identified nuanced data collection as pivotal to developing an equity-centered public health data system.

On May 17, 2024, RWJF convened a roundtable discussion with experts, including UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Director Ninez A. Ponce, to assess what the updated OMB race and ethnicity standards mean for census data, public health data, and beyond.