June 11, 2019

Duckworth, Hastings Introduce Bill Requiring DOD to Update Forms Containing Racially or Ethnically Insensitive Terminology

DOD recently mailed form to family of deceased servicemember that had not been updated since 1977 and contained the term “Negroid”


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) introduced a bill today requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to review and update any in-use form containing racially or ethnically insensitive terminology that is not in compliance with guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It was recently discovered that a form containing racially insensitive terminology was still in use by DoD despite the fact that OMB revised government-wide standards for federal data on race and ethnicity in 1997 and DoD has released several subsequent issuances guiding the implementation of OMB’s directive.

“It is inexcusable that the Department of Defense has been mailing families of servicemembers killed while deployed overseas an antiquated form that includes the term ‘Negroid’ as a classification of race,” Duckworth said. “DoD was directed to remove this term more than 20 years ago, and the fact that it was only done very recently demonstrates why this legislation requiring the Department to conduct a comprehensive review to make sure its thousands of other forms are accurate, up-to-date and free of offensive terminology is necessary. I’m proud to be working with Congressman Hastings to help this bill become law so that servicemembers and their families never receive a form like this again.”

“Senator Duckworth and I introduced bicameral legislation requiring DoD to review its in-use forms and make any necessary updates to ensure that no racially or ethnically insensitive terminology is in use,” said Hastings. “It was recently brought to my attention that the Department’s DD-2064 Form, which is issued when a service member loses his or her life while deployed overseas, utilized the term ‘Negroid’ as one of the classifications of race. Quite frankly, I was shocked to see this term listed on documentation sent to the family of one of my constituents who lost his life in service to our country. This terminology is not compliant with OMB guidance issued more than twenty years ago, and while the Department moved expeditiously to rectify this oversight, the fact that this document retained such offensive language for so long calls into question the status of thousands of other forms currently in use. I thank Senator Duckworth for joining me in this effort and look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure its swift passage.”

The legislation would direct DoD to conduct a study on the forms and surveys used by the Department to identify those that contain terms or classifications deemed racially or ethnically insensitive. The Department would also be required to issue interim reports on the study to the House and Senate Armed Services committees 90 and 180 days after enactment, as well as a final report no later than a year after enactment that contains a list of inappropriate forms and surveys and a plan for modernizing the terms included.

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined Duckworth in co-sponsoring the legislation.