Federal Statistics in the FY 2010 Budget

Edward J. Spar, Executive Director
Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics

Statistics produced by the federal government serve as a base for research in a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines. Population and vital statistics are central to the work of political scientists and demographers; employment, financial, and production data are essential for economists; and information on education and crime is used by sociologists and psychologists. Responsibility for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of federal statistics is spread throughout the departments and independent agencies of the executive branch; each of some 70 agencies and departmental units annually spends $500,000 or more on statistical activities. Within this decentralized system that generates statistical information, a more limited number of agencies have the creation of statistics as their principal mission. It is these agencies that are responsible for producing statistics on major economic, demographic, and social developments and trends that are the focus of discussion in this chapter. The funding levels for FY 2010 that have been proposed for the principal statistical agencies provide, for the very most part, increases over the resources appropriated in FY 2009. For details of the funding history in fiscal years 2008 through 2010 please see table 1. The balance of this chapter provides further details on FY 2010 programs.

Bureau of the Census

The Bureau of the Census collects, compiles, and publishes a broad range of statistics on the population and the economy. Budget authority for the Census Bureau is provided in two appropriations: one covers current programs, including demographic surveys, international programs and data on construction, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, services, foreign trade, and state and local government finances and employment; the other covers periodic programs, including the decennial census of population; and the quinquennial economic censuses and the census of governments.

For FY 2010, funding is requested for the Census Bureau’s ongoing economic and demographic programs and for a re-engineered 2010 Census. For the 2010 Census program, funding is requested to conduct the enumeration of the population. Specifically, in 2010 the Census Bureau will carry out the major 2010 Census operations, including mail out, receipt, and processing of returned census forms, and visit households that do not return a census form to collect the necessary information. Other major operations include Group Quarters Enumeration, Update/Leave Final Address Review, Update/Enumerate (in which enumerators both update their address registers and census maps and enumerate the housing unit in a single visit), Military Enumeration, conducting census operations in Puerto Rico and the Island Areas, and numerous other operations. The Census Bureau will also conduct coverage follow-up operations and coverage measurement field operations. The Census Bureau will continue to support these operations through a network of 494 local census offices, 12 regional census centers, a Puerto Rico Area Office, as well as at headquarters. In addition, the Census Bureau will continue data collection for the American Community Survey, and reinstate the Community Address Updating System. For the Census Bureau’s other economic and demographic programs, funding is requested to: (1) continue to release data for the 2007 Economic Census and conduct more than 100 annual, quarterly, and monthly surveys that provide key national economic statistics; (2) begin planning for the 2012 Census of Governments; (3) operate the Survey of Income and Program Participation at the traditional sample size and incorporate improvements; and (4) expand the Local Employment Dynamics program, which develops new information about local labor market conditions at low cost, with no added respondent burden.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the principal fact-finding agency in the federal government in the field of labor economics, has a dual mission: to provide general purpose statistics that support the formulation of economic and social policy decisions in the business and labor communities, in legislation, and other programs affecting labor; and to serve the program needs of the Department of Labor and other federal agencies that use the BLS data and research findings to administer and evaluate on-going programs, develop legislative proposals, and analyze economic and social problems. To meet these objectives, BLS collects, processes, analyzes, and disseminates data on employment and unemployment, projections of economic growth, the labor force, and employment by industry and occupation, prices and cost of living, consumer expenditures, wages and employee benefits, occupational injuries and illnesses, collective bargaining activities, and productivity and technological change in U.S. industries.

For FY 2010, funding is requested to support ongoing BLS programs to measure the economy, and to: (1) continue the process, begun in 2009, of updating continuously the housing and geographic area samples in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which will improve the accuracy and timeliness of the CPI; (2) complete the modernization of the computing systems for monthly processing of the Producer Price Index and U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes, which will stabilize the operating environment; (3) publish the first national Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses’ estimates of workplace injuries and illnesses incurred by State and local government workers; and (4) begin development of a new data series on “green-collar” jobs that will measure employment and wages for businesses whose primary activities can be defined as “green,” and produce information on the occupations involved, in whole or in part, in green economic activities.

Bureau of Economic Analysis

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) provides a picture of the United States economy through the preparation, development and interpretation of the economic accounts. These accounts consist of the national income and product accounts, summarized by the gross domestic product (GDP); the wealth accounts that show the business and other components of national wealth; the input-output accounts that trace interrelationships among industrial markets; State and regional income and product accounts; and the United States balance of payments and associated international investment accounts. These economic accounts provide key information on economic growth, regional development, and the nation's position in the world economy. These data are vital ingredients in major decisions affecting such areas as monetary and fiscal policy, social security projections, and business planning and investment.

For FY 2010, funding is requested to continue BEA’s core programs, and to: (1) expand BEA’s internal research capacity to allow quick response and adaptation to current and future changes in the rapidly evolving service sector (which includes finance, insurance, and real estate), where once tolerable gaps in data now pose significant risks to the Nation’s economic indicators; (2) invest in the personnel, data, and information technology required to produce new and expanded GDP-related statistics that uniquely measure the role of innovation, retirement income developments, and energy price pressures on U.S. economic growth as part of an ongoing plan to produce a comprehensive set of real time statistics that are relevant to the most pressing issues facing policy makers today; and (3) reexamine and redesign surveys of multi-national corporations to maximize their efficiency and improve their usefulness in addressing current needs while restoring the coverage and detail of multi-national corporation data that BEA had collected until 2008 budget constraints required programmatic cuts, (4) improve, accelerate, and expand county-level economic statistics, (5) continue research on a health care satellite account.

Statistics of Income, Internal Revenue Service

The Statistics of Income Division (SOI) program provides for compilation of annual income, financial, and tax data from samples of tax returns filed by individuals, corporations, partnerships, sole proprietors and tax-exempt organizations. SOI also provides periodic data based on other returns, such as those filed by estates, for estimating the wealth of the living top wealth holders, as well as on various other tax and information returns and schedules, for producing such estimates as U.S. investments abroad, foreign investments in the United States, and gains or losses from sales of capital assets.

For FY 2010, funding is requested to continue SOI’s core programs, and to: (1) continue to modernize tax data collection systems, particularly to more efficiently assimilate into SOI systems data captured from the electronic filing of tax and information returns; (2) examine means to better mask individual records to minimize the risk of re-identification in the Individual Public Use cross-section file; (3) undertake a feasibility study to develop an Individual Public Use panel data file; (4) develop statistical techniques to identify outliers and edit data in IRS administrative population files; and (5) develop a process for providing relevant statistics needed for the tax-related provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

National Agricultural Statistics Service

The Department of Agriculture published its first crop report in 1863, and further strengthened this responsibility in 1905 by creating the Crop Reporting Board (now the Agricultural Statistics Board). The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has the responsibility for collecting and publishing current national, state and county agricultural statistics. NASS collects and reports data on a wide range of production, inventories, prices paid and received by farmers, costs of production, farm labor usage and wage rates, agricultural chemical use, and other agricultural statistics. Beginning in FY 1997, NASS is responsible for the census of agriculture program, which provides comprehensive data every 5 years on all aspects of the agricultural economy down to the county level.

For FY 2010, funding is requested to continue NASS’ core programs, and to: (1) complete reinstatement of the NASS Chemical Use Program (Fruit Chemical Use was reinstated in 2009); and (2) provide a data series on bio-energy production and utilization. Within the currently available Census of Agriculture funding, NASS will be able to conduct the Census of Horticulture Specialties follow-on study that will provide more in-depth information on the horticulture industry than is available from the quinquennial Census of Agriculture.

Economic Research Service

The Economic Research Service (ERS) is a research-oriented statistical agency that provides economic and other social science information and analysis related to the supply, demand and performance of domestic and international food and agricultural markets; indicators of food and consumer issues; economic and environmental indicators of agriculture production and resource use; and socio-economic indicators of the status and performance of the farm sector and the rural economy.

For FY 2010, funding is requested to continue ERS’ core programs, and to support research to develop analytical tools and assessments of the economic implications of how environmental services markets are designed. Given that agriculture plays a major role in domestic cap-and-trade proposals for addressing climate change, the research will emphasize design elements of carbon offsets markets that will permit capture of key policy variables critical to providing guidance for policy makers. Support is requested to improve efforts in analyzing the impacts of bio-energy production, and to examine those concerns pertaining to feedstock storage, transportation networks, and the vagaries in commodity production.

Energy Information Administration

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) collects, analyzes, and disseminates information on energy resources, production, distribution, consumption, technology, and related international, economic, and financial matters. EIA produces reports with statistical time series, projections of future energy trends, analyses of topical energy issues, and supports the energy information requirements of the Department of Energy and other federal agencies. The primary customers of EIA services are public policy makers in the Department of Energy and the Congress. Other customers include other federal agencies, state and local governments, the energy industry, educational institutions, the news media, and the public.

For FY 2010, funding is requested to continue ongoing EIA operations to maintain critical energy data coverage, analysis, and forecasting activities, and to provide funding to close energy information gaps, address growing energy data quality issues, and strengthen analyses. The request enables EIA to: (1) improve the coverage and scope of the three energy consumption surveys (residential, commercial, manufacturing), which would provide a better understanding of the effectiveness of Federal and State energy efficiency initiatives; (2) address critical data quality issues, such as gasoline imports and diesel exports, and enhancing reporting on refinery outages; (3) develop a better understanding of the interactions between physical and financial energy markets by addressing the role and impact of financial markets on short-term energy prices and price volatility; (4) complete development of surveys to collect renewable fuels data; (5) continue replacement of EIA’s aging U.S. energy model, which will improve EIA’s ability to assess and project supply, demand, and technology trends impacting U.S. and world energy markets; and (6) enhance integrated State energy data products and improve timeliness of international data and analyses.

National Center for Health Statistics

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) monitors the Nation's health and use of health services and explores the relationship between risk factors and disease. Data sources include the Nation's vital statistics system and surveys involving personal interviews, physical examinations and laboratory testing, and information from health care providers. The mission of NCHS is to provide statistical information that will guide actions and policies to improve the health of the American people. Data from NCHS include the use of hospitals, nursing homes, physician services, financial and non-financial barriers to health care access; the health of racial and ethnic population groups; infant mortality, access to prenatal care; death from diseases such as cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS; health insurance coverage, immunization status, and other measures used to help design and monitor the impact of programs and policies that affect health and the health care system.

For FY 2010, the budget request would reinstate the reductions in operational capacity that have been implemented in the past several years. These include collecting a full 12 months of core birth and death data from states; conducting the National Health Information Survey (NHIS) in at least 30,625 households covering 76,562 persons; redesigning a new sample for NHIS to ensure it accurately reflects the shifting U.S. population; conducting nationally representative surveys of health care providers in physician offices, community health centers, hospital outpatient and emergency departments, and other selected settings; and maintaining continuous field operations for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Furthermore, the increase will enable NCHS to maintain the timely release of data files; the quality of reports released in print and on the Internet; and the number and quality of data access tools that ensure data are available in easily accessible forms.

National Center for Education Statistics

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) collects, analyzes and reports statistics on education in the United States, and conducts studies on comparisons of international education statistics. NCES also provides leadership in developing and promoting the use of standardized terminology and definitions for the collection of education statistics.

In FY 2010, funding is requested to continue NCES’ core programs, and to: (1) conduct the National Assessment of Educational Progress, including 2010 national U.S. history, civics, and geography assessments at grades 4, 8, and 12; analysis of a 2009 high school transcript study; and preparation for 2011 Trial Urban District Assessments in 17 districts; (2) continue a new teacher longitudinal study to follow teachers who were in the 2007–2008 Schools and Staffing Survey as first-year teachers; (3) provide technical assistance to State education agencies to improve the use of State longitudinal data systems; (4) prepare for the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, an international assessment scheduled for 2011; (5) support future data collections examining participation of preschool children in non-parental education and care arrangements, and (6) provide State-level data for a small number of States for the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–2011.

Bureau of Justice Statistics

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is responsible for the collection, analysis, and publication of statistical information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operations of justice systems at all levels of government and internationally. The mission of the Bureau is to provide accurate and timely justice data and to support the emerging capacity of State and local governments in the use of these data for their justice programs.

For FY 2010, funding is requested for the improvement of BJS’ criminal victimization statistics derived from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), and maintenance of BJS’ other core statistical programs, including: (1) cybercrime data on the incidence, magnitude, and consequences to households and businesses of electronic and computer crime; (2) law enforcement data from more than 3,000 local agencies on the organization and administration of police and sheriffs’ departments; (3) nationally representative prosecution data on resources, policies, and practices of local prosecutors; (4) court and sentencing statistics, including Federal and State case processing data; and (5) data on correctional populations and facilities from Federal, State, and local governments, including information about prisoner re-entry and recidivism. Within funds sought for the NCVS, BJS will also seek to improve the usefulness of the survey by addressing recommendations of the 2008 National Research Council report, Surveying Victims: Options for Conducting the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) legislative mandate covers: 1) The Intermodal Transportation Database; 2) The National Transportation Atlas Database; 3) The National Ferry Database; 4) The National Transportation Library; 5) The Transportation Statistics Annual Report; 6) Statistical guidelines, standards, and research; 7) The Advisory Council on Transportation Statistics; and 8) An information needs study by the National Research Council (due in 2007). BTS is now within the Research and Innovation Technology Administration.

For FY 2010, funding is requested to support the development and improvement of transportation system performance measures and for the maintenance of BTS’ core statistical programs, including: (1) production of the improved final data products from the Commodity Flow Survey; (2) improvement of the National Census of Ferry Operators used to allocate resources for ferry operations and infrastructure; (3) production of transportation data for enhancing livable communities; (4) release of monthly statistics on the commodities and modes of transportation used in international trade with the United States’ major trading partners; (5) production of a core set of transportation performance indicators including the Transportation Services Index; and (6) collection, analysis, and dissemination of airline performance data.

Sciences Resource Statistics, National Science Foundation

The legislative mandate for Science Resource Statistics (SRS), as stated in the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, is, “…to provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, and analysis of data on scientific and engineering resources and to provide a source of information for policy formulation by other agencies of the federal government….” To meet this mandate, SRS provides policymakers, researchers and other decision makers with high quality data and analysis for making informed decisions about the nation’s science, engineering, and technology enterprise. The work of SRS involves survey development, data collection, analysis, information compilation, dissemination, and customer service to meet the statistical demands of a diverse user community, as well as preparation of the biennial reports Science and Engineering Indicators and Women and Minorities and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering.

In FY 2010 Funding is requested to implement ongoing programs on the science and engineering enterprise, and to: (1) continue redesign and improvement activities for a broad range of surveys, particularly the 2010 sample frame redesign for the National Survey of College Graduates and the suite of research and development surveys; (2) support the Science of Science and Innovation Policy program’s efforts to develop the data, tools, and knowledge needed for a new science of science policy by enhancing the comparability, scope, and availability of international data; (3) develop a pilot data collection on post-doctorates based on feasibility activities in 2006–2009; (4) develop an innovation module for the Higher Education Research and Development survey; and (5) continue development work on the Micro-business R&D and Innovation survey.

Table 1. Principal Federal Statistical Agencies (Total direct funding in millions )

FY 2008 Actual

FY 2009 Estimate

FY 2010 Request

Bureau of the Census: Current Programs

$ 232.8  

$ 263.6

$ 289.0

Periodic Programs




Bureau of Labor Statistics




Bureau of Economic Analysis




Statistics of Income, IRS




National Agricultural Statistics Service




Census of Agriculture




Economic Research Service




Energy Information Administration




National Center for Health Statistics




National Center for Education Statistics




Bureau of Justice Statistics




Bureau of Transportation Statistics




Science Resource Statistics NSF