In a significant policy determination, the U.S. Census Bureau has announced that the 2020 decennial census will not use a “combined question” format for collecting race and ethnicity data, nor will the bureau include a separate classification for respondents to identify as “Middle Eastern or North African.”

These two changes, among others, have been under consideration by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), as part of that agency’s “limited” review and possible revision of the federal “Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity,” which were last revised in 1997 (the “1997 Standards”).

The 1997 Standards set the framework for the classification of race and ethnicity data used by federal agencies, including the Census Bureau, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and by extension to private employers that are required to collect and report such data. OMB is the federal agency responsible for setting the Standards.

In a memorandum “for the record” dated January 26, 2018, the Census Bureau states that it will adhere to the 1997 Standards and that no significant changes will be made to race and ethnicity questions for the 2020 Census. The bureau’s memo thus suggests that OMB is getting ready to announce that it is going to stick with the 1997 Standards without any significant changes for now.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.