More than 100,000 U.S. workers are getting letters from their employer asking if they would fill out a questionnaire identifying their race and ethnic background.

Names are not required, Uncle Sam says. Employes who were picked by name are asked to list their Social Security number on the form.

If the past if prologue, the people who will receive the race-ethnicity data may be in for some surprises. Last time the government did something like this it learned something shocking: That nearly everybody working for the State Department was an American Indian. Or so they said.

As oftern is the case, federal officials in charge of the census say they have only the purest motives. The government is committed to do more for minority groups, but first it must find out what it has done or not done for those already in government. The racial/ethnic head count is designed to let statisticians identify the "adverse effects" of discrimination.

For purposes of the survey the government has identified the following racial groups

American Indians.

Eskimos (in Alaska).

Aleuts (in Alaska).

Asian or Pacific Islander.




Ethnic groups listed in the survey:

American Indians or Alaska Native.

Asian or Pacific Islander.

Black, not of Hispanic orgin.


White, not of Hispanice origin.


If you are a non-of-the-above, there is a write-in space asking "how you categorize yourself."

Employes are assured the data will be kept confidential, separate from their files, and will be destoryed when the study is completed.

Participants in the survey have been picked at random, according to the Office of Personnel Management, By computer.

Workers who decline to participate have been assured there will be no hard fellings, but they must return the form, checking the "decline" box, to their own agency.