Trump administration delays decision on race, ethnicity data for census: NPR –

Trump administration delays decision on race, ethnicity data for census: NPR


The 2010 census form included separate questions about race and Hispanic origin. The White House has yet to announce its decision on a proposal that would allow race and ethnicity to be formulated into a single combined question about the 2020 census.

Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images

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Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images

The 2010 census form included separate questions about race and Hispanic origin. The White House has yet to announce its decision on a proposal that would allow racial and ethnic questions to be asked in a single, combined question about the 2020 census.

Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images

A major decision on how the US government was expected was expected. UU Collect information on race and ethnicity through the census and other surveys to be announced this week by the Trump administration.

But the White House Office of Management and Budget, set standards for this type of data for all federal agencies, was silent on Friday, which according to the OMB was the deadline for an announcement.

A spokesperson for OMB could not provide any information about the delay.

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Under White House consideration proposals are presented During the Obama administration they would fundamentally change how the government counts the Latino population. Another proposal would create a new checkbox on the census forms and other federal surveys for people with roots in the Middle East or North Africa. If approved, policy changes could have significant implications in the next 2020 census, as well as redistribution of legislative districts, civil rights laws and health statistics. [19659000] "[The delay] tells me that the new administration has been interested in possible changes." … and wants to weigh a lot, "says Terri Ann Lowenthal, former director of staff of the subcommittee on supervision of the House for the census , which now consults on census matters.

First published as a directive by the Office of Management and Budget of the White House in 1977, federal standards on race and ethnicity data have remained largely unchanged during the The last two decades The last major revisions were announced in 1997, when the Clinton administration decided to allow census recipients and other federal surveys to check boxes for more than one race.

Sally Katzen, who oversaw the 1997 revisions as administrator of the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, says that the decisions of federal agencies often take longer than anticipated. [19659008] "There is no safe date for decision-making," says Katzen. "The objective in each instance is to reach the correct decision, not a previous decision."

An announcement in early spring would help the Census Bureau prepare its report to Congress on the final wording of the 2020 census questions. That report expires at the end of March 2018.

But the timing of the The Trump administration's announcement is ultimately in the hands of the White House, which has also been reviewing the Census Bureau's investigation into the potential impact of the changes. as public comments, and recommendations from an expert advisory group of various federal agencies.

Some Census observers are concerned that the delays may affect the preparations for the Census 2020 that are already underway.

"The later the decision becomes known, the more uncertainty continues as to how the census will proceed with its data collection format of race and ethnicity by 2020," says Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, or NALEO, Educational Fund, which supports proposals to change standards. "Taking into account all the moving parts and all the uncertainty about funding and leadership [at the Census Bureau] does not help when there is uncertainty with this large part of the data collection."

The Census Bureau has not responded to a request for comment on the impact of the delay on the 2020 census.

To prepare for the next census, the office researchers began to study how to improve the collection of information on race and ethnicity in 2010. One of the main objectives has been to address the confusion among many Latinos who were targeted by the census, who left the question blank or selected "some other race": the third largest racial group reported in 2000 and 2010.

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The researchers' findings suggest that the proposals could improve the accuracy of the 2020 count by combining the two separate census questions on race and Hispanic origin required by the current federal standards in a combined question , with "Hispani co Latino" as an option for race and ethnicity. However, this change would probably reduce the target count in the next census.

"If the OMB has decided not to proceed with the major revisions that career staff have developed in concert with the Census Bureau over the decade, I think that really takes advantage of a great scientific research that also gives them It has cost taxpayers a large amount of money since 2010, "says Lowenthal, a consultant to the Educational Fund of the Leadership Conference, which supports the proposals.

A report released by the federal advisory group earlier this year raised concerns about how the changes could affect state governments, schools and hospitals that may or may not follow federal standards for their own record.

"Inconsistency between self-information [federal] survey information and reporting on administrative records result in discrepancies between the main sources of information for [nation] which could be made worse by changing the standards," wrote the advisors of the Federal Interagency Task Force for Race and Ethnicity Research.

The White House could decide to reject the proposals and maintain the status quo – or propose different changes to the standards for race and ethnicity data. But Cary Coglianese, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law who directs the Penn Program on Regulation, says any decision would be limited by the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

"To the extent that the administration was to show racial animism and make decisions about statistical clbadification or survey questions that relate to race in a manner motivated by racial animosity, which would be clearly illegal and unconstitutional", says Coglianese.

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