COPAFS
 

Federal Statistics in the FY 2012 Budget

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

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.

A number of the proposed FY 2012 initiatives are based on work to be completed in FY 2011. As of the middle of March, 2011, the FY 2011 budgets for the federal statistical agencies reviewed below have not been enacted. Therefore a number of the proposed initiatives for FY 2012 may have to be modified.

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 2012, funding is requested to continue Census Bureau core programs, and to: (1) release data, continue evaluations, and conduct contract closeout activities for the 2010 Decennial Census; (2) begin a program of research and testing for the 2020 Census to support fundamental changes to program, business, operational, and technical processes; (3) further increase the sample size for the American Community Survey to boost the reliability of local area estimates; (4) enhance the Government Statistics program by developing new methodologies for measuring revenues, expenditures, and financial assets for publicly sponsored defined-contribution pension plans and to measure costs and liabilities for other post-employment benefits (e.g., health insurance) for public employees; and (5) support activities related to the 2012 Economic Census and the 2012 Census of Governments. The Census Bureau is terminating or reducing funding for several existing programs in order to fund higher-priority activities. Programs being terminated include: (1) Current Industrial Reports, (2) Federal Financial Statistics, (3) Population Distribution, (4) a Demographic Call Center, (5) Foreign Research and Analysis, and (6) the Statistical Abstract; programs being reduced include: (1) Measuring E-business, (2) Demographic Surveys Sample Redesign, and (3) Data Processing Systems.

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 2012, funding is requested to provide support for ongoing BLS programs,and to: (1) publish the first set of industry employment data on the green economy, as well as the first set of estimates on occupational staffing patterns and wages at establishments producing green goods and services as part of a 2010 initiative to measure green jobs; (2) continue to increase the sample of commodity and service items priced in the Consumer Price Index; (3) implement a pilot test of individual household member diaries to improve data accuracy in the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Surveys, and increase the CE sample size by eight percent through the introduction of additional geographic areas; (4) implement new questions to the CE Interview Survey to support the Census Bureau in its development of a supplemental statistical poverty measure using CE data; (5) add the Contingent Work Supplement to the Current Population Survey to capture data on contingent work and alternative work arrangements; (6) establish a new National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) youth cohort to enhance the capability of the BLS to produce timely and relevant data on the U.S. labor market; and (7) elongate the fielding schedules of the 1979 and 1997cohorts of the NLS of Youth to partially offset the cost of the new cohort. The 2011 initiative to expand the sample in the Occupational Employment Statistics program, which would have facilitated year-to-year comparisons, will be eliminated in order to avoid other programmatic reductions.

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 2012, funding is requested to continue BEA’s core programs, and to: (1) develop a New Economic Dashboard that will significantly improve the analytical tools available to the public including the regular production of Gross Domestic Product-by-Industry on a quarterly basis (which builds on the prototype quarterly accounts), new detail and breakouts for the business sector, with an emphasis on small businesses, and measures of trends in business investment, production, and asset prices; (2) produce a new suite of measures, “Everyday Economics: The American Household,” that will detail the distribution of household spending power, debt, and the composition of savings; (3) create integrated BEA-EIA statistics on energy supply, consumption, and price data to provide consistent metrics for discussing energy trends and developing forecast models of energy supply and consumption dynamics; and (4) implement a critical modernization of the Bureau’s information technology systems that will lead directly to an increase in the operational efficiency and security of BEA’s statistical production and analysis.

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 2012, funding is requested to continue SOI’s core programs, and to: (1) further modernize tax data collection systems by efficiently assimilating data captured from the electronic filing of tax and information returns, focusing particularly on increased use and analysis of e-filed individual, corporation, and partnership data; (2) develop and pilot an expert-system for computer coding 22 distinct asset categories reported as capital gains and losses for the Tax Year 2010 Sales of Capital Assets study; (3) expand and improve dissemination of tax data by implementing a table wizard application, making additional data files available through www.data.gov, and supporting focused research projects that have the potential to improve the administration of the tax system; (4) develop statistical techniques to identify outliers and edit data in IRS administrative population files; and (5) provide relevant statistics needed to evaluate and monitor the tax-related provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act; the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and the Tax Relief, and Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization,and Job Creation Act of 2010.

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 2012, funding is requested to continue NASS’ core programs, and to: (1) fully fund the Census of Agriculture; and (2) improve the quality of county estimates. These increases will be partially off-set by: (1) eliminating the quarterly Farm Labor Report; (2) modeling the annual Livestock County estimates from the quinquennial Census of Agriculture, in lieu of conducting a survey; and (3) changing the source of Livestock Prices Received, which will be estimated at the U.S. level using data already available from other USDA sources. In addition, several adjustments have been made to NASS plans proposed in the 2011 President’s budget including: (1) in lieu of funding a Rotational Organic Agriculture Study, NASS will collaborate with partnering USDA agencies to collect organic production and price data; and (2) through operational efficiencies, NASS will publish a cropland data layer for the 48 contiguous States. NASS plans to implement its critical 2011 initiative for small area county estimates of crops by re-directing resources toward non-response follow-ups necessary to implement a probability-based design, and to eliminate the July Sheep and Goats inventory survey as proposed in the 2011 President’s Budget.

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 2012, funding is requested to continue ERS’ highest priority core programs, and to: (1) support community access to local foods; (2) enhance the statistical use of administrative records; (3) foster the interagency sharing of best practices for statistical protocols and tools; and (4) establish a Center of Excellence for Behavioral Economics within which both intramural and extramural behavioral economic research will inform food, farm, rural development, and natural resource policy decision making. ERS will apply insights and analytical tools from behavioral economics to policy questions for farm program participation, resource use, technology adoption, and risk management, in addition to on-going work on food assistance.

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 2012, funding is requested to maintain core energy data, analyses, and forecasting programs critical to energy markets and policymakers, and to: (1) analyze energy market behavior and the interrelationship of energy and financial markets; (2) support energy literacy through product content and delivery innovations, including development of an integrated dissemination database offering user-friendly, interactive access to a wide range of EIA data; (3) expand surveys of energy consumption in homes, commercial buildings, and manufacturing to provide baseline information critical to understanding energy utilization and for use as the basis for benchmarking and performance measurement of energy efficiency programs; (4) continue upgrades to the National Energy Model, which will improve EIA’s ability to assess and forecast supply, demand, and technology trends affecting U.S. and world energy markets; and (5) continue implementation of improvements in data coverage, quality, and integration.

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 2012, funding is requested to continue data collection, analysis, and dissemination activities for NCHS surveys that provide information necessary for understanding the health of the population, health care delivery, and unmet health care needs, including the National Vital Statistics System and National Health Care Surveys, and to: (1) increase sample sizes for some surveys, thereby allowing NCHS to increase the number of State level estimates for certain key health and health care delivery statistics; (2) enhance the quality and usability of data access tools through improved tutorials; and (3) fully support electronic birth records in all 50 States

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 2012, funding is requested to continue NCES’ core programs, and to: (1) conduct the National Assessment of Educational Progress, including administration of the 2012 national economic assessment at grade 12, and the long-term trend assessment of mathematics and reading among students at ages 9, 13, and 17; (2) participate in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment; (3) conduct the 2011-12 administration of the National Postsecondary Aid Study, which is used to analyze student financial aid and to inform public policy on Federal financial aid programs; (4) conduct the second wave of the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009; (5) continue developmental work on mechanisms to measure adults’ acquisition of education and training that is oriented towards work, including formal education credentials, industry-recognized credentials, and basic literacy skills; and (6) continue the development of State-wide longitudinal data systems to allow States to improve their data systems, by ensuring that information is available at the pre-school, postsecondary, and workforce levels in addition to kindergarten through grade 12.

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 2012, funding is requested to maintain BJS’ core programs, and to: (1) improve the quality and usefulness of BJS’ criminal victimization statistics derived from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) by continuing to address recommendations of the 2008 National Research Council report, Surveying Victims: Options for Conducting the National Crime Victimization Survey with special emphasis on sub-national estimates and the crimes of rape and sexual assault; (2) explore the use of administrative records data in police and correctional agencies for providing statistical data in these areas including recidivism estimates; and (3) expand the surveys of inmates of prisons and jails to inform the process of re-entry.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) is responsible for developing and disseminating timely, relevant, and high quality transportation data and information for all modes to public and private transportation decision makers. BTS programs include freight and travel statistics, transportation economics, geospatial information systems, statistical methods and performance measurement, and airline transportation statistics. BTS also administers the National Transportation Library. BTS is a component of the Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

For FY 2012 funding is requested to maintain BTS’ core statistical programs, and to: (1) continue implementation of the 2012 Commodity Flow Survey; (2) enhance production of a core set of transportation performance indicators including the Transportation Services Index; and (3) establish a Safety Data Analysis Program.

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.

In FY 2012, funding is requested to maintain and enhance ongoing programs, and to: (1) increase exploration of new methods to enhance data collection, analysis, and the accessibility of NCSES’ data and products; (2) establish a collaboration with several Federal agencies to test the feasibility of tagging and extracting agencies’ administrative records to measure research and development (R&D) activity; and (3) develop new transformational data sets that link R&D data traditionally collected by NCSES with outcomes data in order to better measure innovation.

Table 1. Principal Federal Statistical Agencies (Total Direct Funding in Millions)
 

FY 2010 Actual

FY 2011 Estimate

FY 2012 Request

Bureau of the Census: Current Programs

$ 289  

$ 289

$ 302

Periodic Programs

6,837  

964

753

Bureau of Labor Statistics

611

611

647

Bureau of Economic Analysis

93

93

108

Statistics of Income, (SOI)

43

43

44

National Agricultural Statistics Service

124

124

123

Census of Agriculture

38

38

42

Economic Research Service

82

82

86

Energy Information Administration

111

111

124

National Center for Health Statistics

139

139

162

National Center for Education Statistics

108

108

117

Bureau of Justice Statistics

69

69

66

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

27

27

35

Science Resource Statistics, NSF

41

41

45