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Number: DAO 215-7
Effective Date: 2017-10-24


.01       This Order establishes policy and prescribes procedures and responsibilities for
collection, maintenance, use and management of data on the race, ethnicity, and disability designations of employees.

.02       This revision reflects changes in terminology used for collection of data in accordance with Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions’ (EEOC) Management Directive 715 and OMB 1997 Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity.



To manage the Department of Commerce’s (the Department) Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) responsibilities, the Departmental Office of Civil Rights (OCR) must have available current, complete and accurate data on the race, ethnicity, and disability designations of employees.  The data, which is voluntarily provided, will be used to comply with the EEO and affirmative employment requirements.  The Department’s centralized personnel data system will contain codes for all employees indicating their race, ethnicity, and disability status.



.01       The provisions of this Order apply to the Office of the Secretary and bureau/operating units (B/OU) of the Department, including their subcomponents.



.01       It is the policy of the Department to comply with the administrative requirements pursuant to the EEOC Management Directive 715, which requires all federal agencies to collect from federal employees race and ethnicity information under Section 717 of Title VII (Part A), and disability-related information under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act (Part B), in the implementation of affirmative programs of equal employment opportunity.

.02       The collection, use, maintenance and management of race, ethnicity, and
disability-related data shall be in accordance with Federal procedures protecting individual rights, and shall comply with EEO and affirmative employment regulations and requirements.



.01       Ethnicity and race information is requested under the authority of 42 U.S.C. Section
2000 e-16 and in compliance with the Office of Management and Budget's 1997 Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity.

.02       Solicitation of disability-related information is authorized by Section 501 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 CFR 1614.601 (f), and EEOC Management Directive 715 of October 1, 2003.



.01       The Director, Office of Civil Rights shall:

a.         Set policy and provide guidance for the management of race, ethnicity, and disability
data in any form that may identify individual employees;

b.         Approve all written procedures on collection and use of data regarding race, ethnicity,
and disability;

c.         Specify requirements for Departmental reports that include race, ethnicity, and
disability distribution of employees by grade, salary level, occupation, and other categories or classifications; and

d.         Review compliance with this Order.

.02       The Director, Office of Human Resources Management shall:

a.         Establish procedures for maintaining the Department’s centralized personnel data system
on race, ethnicity, and disability;

b.         Review compliance with this Order.
.03       Bureau/Operating Unit personnel officers shall:

a.         Collect data, which is provided on a voluntarily basis, for the centralized personnel data
system and ensure it is complete and confidential;

b.         Provide a Standard Form (SF) 181, “Ethnicity and Race Identification,”
https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf181.pdf and SF 256, “Self-Identification of Disability” https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf256.pdf, to each incoming employee so that he/she may identify his/her race or ethnicity and disability status on a voluntary basis;

c.         Notify incoming employee(s) that the Department has the obligation to obtain race, ethnicity, and disability data on all employees and that it is obtained by voluntary self-identification.  The personnel officer or the delegated official will inform the employee(s) that the data serves a useful purpose and will explain the importance of accuracy, the B/OU's recognition of the sensitivity of such data, and the existence of procedures to prevent its unauthorized disclosure;

d.         In the case of race and ethnicity information, if an employee declines to self-identify,
B/OU personnel officers or their designees may determine the information on race and ethnicity required for reporting purposes by visual observation or from post-employment records;

e.         In the case of disability-related information, B/OU personnel officers or their designees are to explain the importance of the data to employees and actively encourage them to self-identify.  Only if the employee is a Schedule A appointee and refuses to self-identify, may the personnel officer or designee identify the employee's disability using the records supporting the appointment.  For all other employees, if the employee still refuses to self-identify even with encouragement, the Department should report the employee's disability status as "unknown."  Records used for purposes of accommodation requests cannot be used by the Department to unilaterally identify employees.  Visual identification may not be used for the collection of disability data;

f.          Following the procedure in e. above, accept the employee’s self-identification code even if
it appears to be inaccurate.  Enter the code 01, "I do not wish to identify my disability or serious health condition," for employees who refuse to self-identify; and

g.         Enter the employee's race or ethnicity and disability codes into the automated personnel data system, and destroy the SF 181 and SF 256.

.04       Completion of SF 181 and SF 256 is voluntary on the part of employees and applicants.
There shall be no adverse effect on an individual’s employment or consideration for employment if he/she chooses not to provide this information.



.01       Data on race, ethnicity, and disability status is used to:

a.         Evaluate compliance with the Department’s affirmative employment program by measuring progress toward the objectives established for affirmative employment programs; and

b.         Conduct barrier analysis, EEO studies and aid in the investigation and adjudication of EEO complaints.

.02       Data on individual employees will not be released except for use in an EEO complaint
procedure or for other legitimate EEO purposes or as required by law.  Department officials investigating compliance with laws, regulations, and policies regarding EEO affirmative employment shall be provided information upon request to the personnel officer or the EEO programs manager.  The decision to release information that identifies individual employees will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Director, Office of Civil Rights or the designated EEO official in the affected B/OU or subcomponent, consistent with applicable disclosure law.

a.         All statistical data releases to internal and external third persons and/or organizations must
ensure that all potential risks to confidentiality are considered and possible disclosure of data is addressed.  Disclosure occurs when someone can use published statistical information to identify an individual who has provided information under a pledge of confidentiality.

b.         All statistical data released to internal and third parties and/or organizations must employ disclosure limitation procedures that either modify or remove the characteristics that put confidential information at risk for disclosure.  Data releases using disclosure limitation procedures may show information that has disguised or suppressed the original data.  The techniques used to protect confidentiality in tabulations vary, depending on the type of data.

.03       No data obtained under this Order may be filed or retained in an employee’s official
personnel folder or any other personnel record file, other than the Department’s automated personnel data system.

.04       All disability designations will be kept confidential.

.05       Upon request to the personnel office or the EEO office, an employee will be informed how
he/she is coded in the personnel data system.  No information shall be provided regarding any other employee.



This Order supersedes Department Administrative Order 215-7, March 30, 2007.

Signed by: Director of Civil Rights

Approved by: Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration

Office of Primary Interest: Office of Civil Rights

Questions and Comments

Send Questions or Comments on the Commerce Directives Management program to Directives@doc.gov.

Office of Privacy and Open Government
Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce


October 25, 2017