A Vision for Equitable Data: Recommendations from the Equitable Data Working Group 

April 28, 2022 

President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (“Equity EO”) formed the Equitable Data Working Group. The goal of the Working Group is to collect appropriate data to enable rigorous assessment of government programs and policies to assure consistently fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals. 

The working group, co-chaired by Dr. Alondra Nelson, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Dr. Margo Schwab, Office of Management and Budget, is tasked with:  

  • identifying inadequacies in existing federal data collection programs, policies, and infrastructure across agencies 
  • providing strategies for addressing any deficiencies identified 
  • supporting agencies in implementing actions, consistent with applicable law and privacy interests, that expand and refine the data available to the federal government to measure equity and capture the diversity of the American people 

FABBS has responded to requests for information to improve federal scientific integrity and capacity (read our Memo to OSTP to restore the principles of scientific integrity and our RFI Response to OSTP on building public trust in science).  

On April 22, the Working Group released the report of their recommendations (see the fact sheet of the report here), which outlines key principles and actions for federal agencies to better incorporate the principle of equity throughout their data collection policies, programs, and infrastructures – to allow for better outcomes and representation for underserved communities.

The Working Group provided the following list of recommendations towards equitable and intentional demographic data promotion and disaggregation: 

Make disaggregated data the norm while protecting privacy: 

  • Revise the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Statistical Policy Directive 15: Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity 
  • Generate disaggregated statistical estimates 
  • Establish best practices for measuring sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and rural location 

Catalyze Existing Federal Government Infrastructure to Leverage Underused Data 

  • Expand protected access to data for equity assessment 

Build Capacity for Robust Equity Assessment for Policymaking and Program Implementation 

  • Invest in the human capital necessary for equity assessment 
  • Use recovery and infrastructure initiatives to institutionalize expectations for assessing equity 

Galvanize Diverse Partnerships Across Levels of Government and the Research Community 

  • Facilitate increased federal-state-local data sharing 
  • Expand opportunities for historically underrepresented scholars 

Be Accountable to the American Public 

  • Increase transparency about progress toward serving underserved populations 
  • Build data access tools that are user-friendly 

The Working Group consulted with a range of advocates and experts from civil society who leverage federal data, federal department and agency leads for data, statistics, privacy, and program evaluations; among these civil society organizations and communities are FABBS’ sister organizations, including the American Statistical Association (ASA) and Population Association of America (PAA).