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The Availability, Quality, and Use of Administrative Data to Identify and Reduce Health and Human Services-Related Disparities: A Survey of HHS-Funded Programs and Interventions

Publication Date
Kevin C. Heslin, PhD; Timothy Creedon, PhD; Ryan Mintz, MA; Helen Lamont, PhD; Maura R. Reilly, PhD, MPH

Executive Orders No. 13985 (2021) and 14091 (2023) require federal agencies to ensure that their policies and services, including data collection, advance equitable outcomes for all populations. The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Data Council Equity Data Subcommittee sought to learn more about how administrative data on demographic characteristics is used to assess service equity in HHS-funded programs. In the summer of 2022, RTI International, under direction from ASPE, designed and administered a web-based survey of HHS-funded programs delivering services to individuals.

Key Points:

  • The survey identified wide variation in the types of demographic data collected and data collection methodologies used by HHS programs both within and between HHS offices and agencies.
  • The quality of demographic data collected by HHS programs varied based on three key factors: the methods used to collect the data, what questions were asked, and which response options were offered.
  • The results from the survey also indicated three opportunities to make data collection more robust and usable for future equity analyses. These include: 1) Increase the use of data collected through participant self-report 2) Increase participant response rates 3) Standardize response options across programs.
  • In considering changes to administrative data collection, program staff should be included in decision-making processes to confirm that new data collection domains and response options align with program foci and will be useful for programmatic decision-making.

*This content is in the process of Section 508 review. If you need immediate assistance accessing this content, please submit a request to Maura Reilly, Content will be updated pending the outcome of the Section 508 review.