Biden Creates Road Map for Equitable State and Local Data

Daniel Castro at GovTech: “On his first day in office, President Biden issued a flurry of administrative actions to reverse a number of President Trump’s policies and address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One of these included an executive order to advance racial equity and provide support for underserved communities. Notably, the order recognizes that achieving this goal will be difficult, if not impossible, without better data. This is a lesson that many state and local governments should take to heart by revisiting their collection policies to ensure data is equitable.

The executive order establishes that it is the policy of the Biden administration to “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” To that end, the order dedicates a section to establishing an interagency working group on equitable data tasked with identifying inadequacies in federal data collection policies and programs, and recommending strategies for addressing any deficiencies.   

An inability to disaggregate data prevents policymakers from identifying disparate impacts of government programs on different populations in a variety of areas including health care, education, criminal justice, workforce and housing. Indeed, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has found that “data collection and reporting are essential to effective civil rights enforcement, and that a lack of effective civil rights data collection is problematic.”

This problem has repeatedly been on display throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, at the outset of the pandemic last year, nearly half of states did not report data on race or ethnicity on those who were tested, hospitalized or died of COVID-19. And while the government has tried to take a data-driven response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of data about different groups means that their needs are often hidden from policymakers….(More)”.