Revised: May 14, 1990


The information on an employee’s sex/gender, racial/ethnic heritage, Vietnam-Era veteran status, special disabled veteran status, and disability/handicap status is collected in ways that vary from institution to institution. Since the information becomes a part of the University of Wisconsin System’s permanent Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity (AA/EEO) database, it is imperative that the information be collected in a manner that is consistent with federally mandated definitions using a reliable collection technique.

I. Rationale

  1. Data on sex/gender and racial/ethnic heritage are used to determine key reporting categories for federal, state, systemwide, and institutional reports. A procedure that insures the collection of accurate sex/gender and racial/ethnic heritage data at the time of hire or during a later correction procedure will lessen the number of errors in the annual AA/EEO computer runs and save the time of affirmative action personnel who must identify and correct errors. Such a procedure can also be used to insure accuracy and timeliness in the collection of the federally required data on Vietnam-Era veteran, special disabled veteran, and disability/handicap individuals.
  2. Because of the way the AA/EEO database is created, payroll offices may be the most efficient place for the collection and entry of gender, heritage, veteran and disability status data. These offices have historically collected and entered these data. Placing this function with a particular office, however, should be left to the institution. In order to insure the collection of reliable data, all institutions should use the same set of federally approved definitions. The assignment of formal responsibility for managing the collection and input of these data should result in greater accountability for their accuracy.

II. The UW System Policy Statement

The UW System is committed to the uniform collection of the five self-reported data elements listed above for its federal, state, systemwide, and institutional reports. It is also committed to improving the accuracy of the data and the efficiency with which the collection task is accomplished. To achieve these ends UW System institutions will:

  1. Designate an office or a person who will be responsible for the procedure used to collect sex/gender, racial/ethnic heritage, Vietnam-Era veteran, special disabled veteran, and disability/handicap data from new employees.
  2. Insure that the responsible office or person will collect the five self-reported data elements according to the federally mandated definitions identified in this document. Employees should also be advised that
    1. providing this information is optional,
    2.  failure to submit the information will not in any way affect their present or future employment,
    3. the information will remain confidential and shared only on an authorized, need-to-know basis with selected personnel, at the institution or system level
    4. the information will be used for affirmative action purposes, primarily mandated aggregate reporting, and
    5. if they do not provide the racial/ethnic heritage information, federal regulations stipulate a visual survey or post-employment records may be used to acquire racial/ethnic heritage information necessary for the completion of affirmative action reports.
  3. Specify the procedure the responsible office or person will use to collect and input these data into the UW System payroll files or other data files as selected by the institution according to the specifications on constructing the AA/EEO database used by the WARF and A.W. Peterson payroll processing centers.
  4. Assign an office or a person who will interact with affirmative action/equal employment opportunity personnel in the correction of sex/gender, racial/ethnic heritage, Vietnam-Era veteran, special disabled veteran, and disability/handicap data when necessary.

III. Definitions

  1. Sex/Gender Information: Male/Female
  2. Racial/Ethnic Heritage Categories:
    1. Black (not of Hispanic origin)–A person having origins from any of the Black racial groups of Africa.
    2. Asian or Pacific Islanders–A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent or the Pacific Islands. This area includes, for example, China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, and Samoa.
    3. American Indian or Alaskan Native–A person having origins from any of the original peoples of North America, and who maintain cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.
    4. Hispanic–A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
    5. White (not of Hispanic origin)–A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa or the Middle East.
  3. Vietnam Era Veteran: A veteran, any part of whose active military, naval, or air service was during the period of August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975, who: (1) served on active duty for a period of more than 180 days and was discharged or released there from with other than a dishonorable discharge; or (2) was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability. No veteran may be considered a veteran of the Vietnam Era under this definition after December 31, 1991.
    (The last sentence in this definition means that, unless Congress decides to extend the reporting requirement concerning Vietnam era veterans, no report on their numbers will be required after December 31, 1991. This change will not affect the required reporting on special disabled veterans.)
  4. Special Disabled Veteran: A veteran who is entitled to compensation (or who but for the receipt of military retired pay would be entitled to compensation) under the law administered by the Veterans Administration for a disability rated at: (1) 30 percent or more; (2) 10 to 20 percent in the case of veterans who have been determined under Section 1506 Title 38, U.S.C., to have serious employment handicaps; or (3) a person who was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability.
  5. Handicapped/Disabled Individual: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended defines a “handicapped individual” for the purposes of the program as any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such persons major life activities; (2) has a record of such impairments; or (3) is regarded as having such impairment.

IV. References

  1. Federal Register (1987, March 4) Part 61-250.2–Definitions 4 (i) “Special Disabled Veteran,” and 5 “Veteran of the Vietnam Era.”
  2. Federal Register (1978, October 20). Part 60-741–Affirmative Action Obligations of Contractors and Sub-Contractors for Handicapped Workers.
  3. Directive No. 15, Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting. (Directive No. 15 supersedes section 7(h) and Exhibit F of OMB Circular No. A-46 dated May 3, 1974 and as revised May 12, 1977.) U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, Region V.

NOTE: See copy of Affirmative Action Data Questionnaire with hard copies of this document.