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OMB Updates Language on Ethnic Communities

OMB Updates Language on Ethnic Communities

By White House AANHPI Initiative

The White House Office of Management and Budget took some long overdue steps this March to allow ethnic groups to better self-identify when the government collects information on race and ethnicity. It was the first change in rules around data collection in 27 years.

The revisions came after a working group held 94 listening sessions, read through more than 20,000 public comments and held three virtual townhalls to get a sense of how the data collection rules needed to change.

Under the new rules, people could select as many ethnicities as they identify with and not be confined to just one ill-fitting group.

The OMB also plans to form an Interagency Committee on Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards to better grasp the evolving way people define themselves.

This is part of the Biden White House’s efforts to better serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as other ethnic groups, White House officials say.
The Biden-Harris Administration says it is committed to improving longstanding federal data collection and reporting practices that historically have lacked appropriate disaggregation. This has too often contributed to painful and enduring stereotypes, obscured disparities within AANHPI communities and failed to measure, reflect and be responsive to the diversity of AANHPI experiences.

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy a vice admiral in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps tries his hand at taiko drumming at the the White House Initiative on Asian Americans Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders celebration held on May 13

In April 2022, the White House released recommendations for increasing the collection of data to measure equity and better represent the diversity of the American people including AANHPI communities. The March changes built on this progress.

The Biden-Harris Administration is also reducing barriers for people with limited English proficiency by strengthening federal language access services. It ensures information on government programs, services and benefits are provided in multiple languages. The president’s fiscal year 2025 budget builds on these efforts with funding to expand federal language access capacity.

The Biden-Harris Administration has mobilized over $1 billion in new investments to increase support for programs to bridge divides and counter hate-fueled violence. It also established an interagency group to counter antisemitism, Islamophobia and related forms of bias and discrimination. In November 2023, the White House announced plans to develop the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia, an effort to address all forms of hate, discrimination and bias against Muslim, Sikh, South Asian and Arab American communities.

The Biden-Harris administration has also taken steps to improve the business climate for businesses owned by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In January 2023, in collaboration with the Small Business Administration, the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship, and federal, state, and local partners, the White House launched a series of regional economic summits. This is to connect Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander business owners, entrepreneurs, and community leaders directly with federal resources such as contracting and employment opportunities.

In September 2023, President Biden issued the first-ever White House proclamation to recognize National Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions. These schools and organizations confer almost 50% of associate degrees and nearly 30% of baccalaureate degrees upon all AANHPI people in the United States. The Biden-Harris Administration delivered $5 billion in ARP funds to support these insitutions.

In September 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $8 million in grants to train medical professionals. The funding provides culturally and linguistically appropriate care for individuals with limited English proficiency, including those from AANHPI communities.

Some moves have been made by the Biden administration to better acknowledge the role of native Hawaiians. For the first time, the U.S. Department of Interior requires formal consultation with Native Hawaiians. In February 2024, the departmebnt announced new guidance on the use of the Hawaiian language in commemoration of Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi or Hawaiian Language Month. In December 2023, The White House Council on Native American Affairs completed a Best Practices Guide for Tribal and Native Hawaiian Sacred Sites, and DOI issued a final rule to provide a process for returning human remains and sacred or cultural objects to Tribal Nations and Native Hawaiian organizations.

In September 2023, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced the Pacific Islands Cultural Initiative. It committed $1.3 million in initial funding to fortify cultural heritage and resilience in American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Since 2021, the National Endowment for the Arts has also distributed nearly $6 million in federal funding in Hawaii.

In April 2023, with the support of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Hawaiian Home Lands launched a tenant-based rental assistance program for kupuna (elders). In February 2024, HUD announced a final rule to provide more affordable housing options to Native Hawaiians, allowing more families to reside on the Hawaiian home lands.