COPAFS
 

COPAFS Newsletter: Winter 1999

In This Issue:

COPAFS Elects 1999 Officers and Executive Committee Members

At the December 1998 quarterly meeting, COPAFS representatives elected members who will provide leadership in 1999. The officers are Chair: Jerry Fletcher, representing the American Agricultural Economics Association; Vice Chair: Maurine Haver, representing the National Association of Business Economists: Secretary: Robert Lehnen, representing the American Statistical Association; Treasurer: Patricia Becker, representing the Association of Public Data Users; Past Chair: Nicholas Zill, representing the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

Executive Committee members are John Cromartie, representing the Association of American Geographers; David Hirschberg, serving a second term representing Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.; Don Muff, representing First Data Solutions, and Mark Nord, representing the Rural Sociological Society. The Executive Committee continues to benefit from the guidance of our honorary lifetime members Margaret Martin, former representative of the American Statistical Association, and Conrad Taeuber, former representative of the Population Association of America.

Federal Statistics in the President's FY 2000 Budget

In general, the funding levels for FY 2000 that have been proposed for the principal statistical agencies provide increases over the resources appropriated in FY 1999. The one major exception is for the Periodic Programs at the Census Bureau which include major funding requests for the 2000 Decennial Census. For details of the funding history in fiscal years 1995 through 2000, please see the table at the end of the newsletter.

Bureau of the Census - For FY 2000 the proposed budget authority of $156.9 million for current programs provides an increase of $10.8 million over FY 1999. The FY 2000 request includes funds to publish the first North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) based on the Annual Survey of Manufactures and County Business Patterns reports in mid 2000, collect Annual Capital Expenditures Survey data on a NAICS basis for 1999, restructure the program of annual service industry surveys and collect NAICS based annual statistics for additional service industries. The Periodic Censuses and Programs request of $2,914.8 reflects the shift from planning and testing for the 2000 Decennial Census to the operational phase. However, it must be pointed out that this funding request is based on sampling for non-response follow-up. In the late Spring of 1999, the Census Bureau will release a revised budget for the decennial census based upon the Supreme Court decision requiring a traditional census be taken for reapportionment purposes. Funding is also requested to complete the dissemination of data from the 1997 Economic Censuses, and begin preparation for the 2002 Economic Censuses and the 2002 Census of Governments.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) - For FY 2000 the proposed BLS budget is $420.9, an increase of $22.0 million over the estimated level for FY 1999. The BLS request includes funds to continue to improve the time lines and accuracy of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). BLS is proposing a series of steps to strengthen the statistical and methodological infrastructures supporting the current CPI program. These proposals will help to revise the CPI more rapidly at the time of the next revision, allow the BLS to produce alternative measures of change in the cost of living comparable in precision to the ongoing CPI, improve the measurement of changes in the quality of the goods and services, and bring additional new goods into the ongoing CPI on a more timely basis. BLS is also continuing its work on replacing the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) with the NAICS, and is requesting new resources to develop monthly data on the number of separations, new hires, and current job openings at the national level. Presently there is no broad economic indicator specifically designed to assess the demand for labor or the existence of labor shortages in the U.S. labor market.

Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) - For FY 2000, BEA's proposed budget would increase by $6.3 million. The proposed funding is requested to update and improve the data used in estimating Gross Domestic Product and national income, and to continue moving forward on other key initiatives in BEA's Strategic Plan for improving its economic accounts. These initiatives include new and improved measures of output and prices by extending BEA's work on quality adjustments; better measures of investment, savings, and wealth by developing a comprehensive accounting for software; and improved measures of international transactions by expanding the coverage of rapidly growing international services and financial instruments.

Statistics of Income, Internal Revenue Service (SOI) - The proposed funding for FY 2000 for SOI, and increase of $2.1 million over FY 1999 provides annual income, financial and tax-related data for individuals, corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships and tax-exempt organizations. Funding is included for the sampling of corporation returns with assets between $10 million and $50 million at the 100-percent rate, to assist in a continuing IRS compliance initiative. SOI is also developing work on a new family panel: a study of controlled foreign partnerships; statistics on foreign trusts of individuals; and a study on non-exempt charitable remainder trusts.

National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) - For FY 2000, the proposed budget authority for NASS is $100.6, a decrease of $3.4 million from FY 1999. The decrease reflects the reduction in funds needed to complete the Census of Agriculture. NASS has requested funds to conduct a survey of fruit and vegetable growers, as well as fruit and vegetable packing houses that will help insure food safety in the production and processing of domestic and imported fruits and vegetables; expand measurement of chemical usage on cropland within the Mid-Atlantic regions; lead a multi-agency collaborative effort to "warehouse" data and information from independent assessment activities in support of the National Environmental Monitoring and Research Framework; establish a permanent office in Puerto Rico; collect pesticide use data for the horticulture and greenhouse industries; and conduct the Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey.

Economic Research Service - For FY 2000, a funding level of $55.6 million is proposed. The decrease of $10.2 million reflects the proposal to reverse the 1999 transfer of funds for the evaluation of domestic food assistance programs from the Food and Nutrition Service. Funding is requested to enhance commodity market analysis; support an initiative on the economic incentives for carbon sequestration and trace gas emissions control in agriculture; provide economic analyses in food safety risk assessments, meet the analytical information needs of small farmers and niche marketers; and assess the effects of electric utility deregulation on rural communities.

Energy Information Administration (EIA) - EIA's proposed FY 2000 budget request is $72.6 million, an increase of $2.1 million over FY 1999. EIA is requesting funds in FY 2000 to enhance international analysis capabilities to assess carbon mitigation, permit trading, and other global climate change issues; begin assessing the accuracy and reliability of energy data systems such as consumption surveys which are operating on a base that is reaching 20 years of age; continue overhauling survey frames and data systems to maintain the ability to analyze changes such as those brought on by deregulation and restructuring in the natural gas and electricity industries; and seek further efficiency gains through the use of information processing and communications technologies.

National Center for Health Statistics - For FY 2000, the budget authority request is $109.6 million, an increase of $15.0 million over FY 1999. Funding is requested to help states implement a major revision to the international coding system for mortality, making further improvements in the data quality and timeliness and scope of availability of birth and death data; support a fundamental sample redesign for the National Health Interview Survey following the decennial census; provide new state-of-the-art medical and communications technology to improve quality and speed results for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; begin to implement new approaches to monitoring the health care delivery system; develop new approaches to acquiring data on special populations such as racial and ethnic groups in order to track progress in meeting health objectives, identify health differentials, and better understand differences among groups; and make data readily available to users by improving timeliness and access through use of automated systems and the Internet.

National Center for Education Statistics - For FY 2000, a budget request of $117.5 is proposed, an increase of $13.5 million over FY 1999. Of the total, $40.0 million is requested to support the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Funding is requested to redesign the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System to utilize a new web-based system; improve dissemination of consumer information on college costs and prices; begin development of a higher-education cost index, in cooperation with BLS; perform a post-secondary teacher education study that standardizes the definition for teacher certification at the state level; develop individual state capacity to interpret, report and use NAEP data; enhance dissemination of NAEP data on the Internet; and increase the use of computers in all phases of NAEP assessments.

Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) - The FY 2000 proposed budget authority is $32.0 million, which is $7.5 million higher than the FY 1999 estimate. FY 2000 funding is requested to develop and implement a program to produce consistent annual measures of the incidence of hate crimes and to estimate the extent and nature of change from year to year; develop a tribal data collection program that would include conducting a complete census of approximately 500 recognized Indian tribes to collect data on the types and characteristics of criminal justice agencies operating in these jurisdictions, assessing the tribes' capacity to collect and report information on crime, improve crime measurement capabilities and information systems and conducting studies on violent crime in Indian tribal jurisdictions; and collect and analyze data on pretrial drug testing of offenders, treatment policies, practices, and services available to arrestees, case processing of drug abuse violators, state court management of drug related cases and services, and drug-free workplace policies in state and local agencies. As part of a government-wide initiative inspired by the President's Initiative on Race, BJS will develop and monitor statistical measures designed to examine concerns about racial discrimination in the administration of justice.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) - For FY 2000, the BTS budget authorized out of the Highway Trust Fund is $31.0 million. Funding is requested to maintain the core statistical programs of BTS including the American Travel Survey, Commodity Flow Survey, and Transborder Surface Freight program; produce and enhance data compilations and analyses concerning patterns of passenger travel and goods movements; extend efforts to provide technical assistance in the use of statistics and data products; initiate analyses including the Intermodal Transportation Data Base, Transportation Capital stocks Account, National Transportation Atlas Data Base, International Trade Impact Study, and other analyses related to international transportation; and expand collections and services of the National Transportation Library.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Releases Draft Provisional Guidance on the Implementation of the 1997 Standards for the Collection of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity

As a follow-on to OMB's October 1997 announcement of revised government-wide standards for the collection of data on race and ethnicity, the Tabulation Working Group of the Interagency Committee for the Review of Standards for Data on Race and Ethnicity has released this draft guidance report on tabulations. The Guidance focuses on three areas: collecting data using the new standards, tabulating data collected under the new standards, and building bridges to compare data collected under the new and the old standards. The guidance is often in the form of alternatives for discussion rather than recommendations for implementation, and the guidance will be amended as additional research and analyses are completed. OMB is seeking broader comment on the guidance. After a two month period for discussion within and outside government, OMB expects to issue provisional guidance at the end of April, 1999. It is expected that the guidance issued at that time will evolve further as data from the 2000 Decennial Census and other data collections employing the new collection standards become available. The guidance includes a background and chapters on collecting and tabulating data on Race and Ethnicity using the new old standards along with comparing data under the old and new standards. There are also appendices reviewing the standards, 2000 Decennial Census Dress Rehearsal prototype redistricting data, and a Bridge Report: Tabulation Options for Trend Analysis. This is an extensive report that can be downloaded in parts from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Internet site at http://www.ccsso.org. The report is available in five separate files (the main report and the four appendices), and in two different file formats (WordPerfect and Rich Text Format). To access the report go to the CCSSO home page above, click on Projects, select EIAC and scroll to the bottom of the informational page.

Supreme Court Decision on Sampling for Reapportionment - What's Next?

With the decision on the part of the Supreme Court to not allow the Census Bureau to use sampling for non-response follow-up in the 2000 Decennial Census for reapportionment, the action has now moved to the Congress. The latest issue centers around the Bureau's decision not to implement Post Census Local Review (PCLR), relying more on pre-census local updating. The House Subcommittee on the Census has introduced a bill to mandate this activity. The Census Bureau has released a Census 2000 Operational Plan Using Traditional Census Taking Methods, and is currently preparing revised budget figures to account for this plan's activity.

It is the current plan on the part of the Bureau to have all the adjustments that would be based upon a 300,000 housing unit Post Enumeration Survey (PES) find its way into the data that go to the states as mandated by law, by April 1, 2001. With this intent, we are back to where we started with the suits that finally reached the Supreme Court. The Republicans see this as a means to add people that would vote Democrat and the Administration, sees any attempt to stop the incorporation of adjusted data as disenfranchising minorities. Introducing the PCLR legislation, thereby forcing the Bureau to implement a procedure it believes adds little to the process, might end up delaying the Bureau's ability to adjust the data in time for state releases. There is also the issue of whether or not Congress should micro manage decennial activities through legislation. The proposed legislation would most likely lead to a Presidential veto along with any attempt not to fund a PES. Meanwhile, the next phase of this fight will move to the appropriations process. One way or another, it seems inevitable that users of decennial data will have to deal with two sets of books.

Consolidation Bill Reintroduced in the Senate

At the end of the last session of Congress the Bill (S.1404) to establish a Federal Commission on Statistical Policy to study the reorganization of the federal statistical system was not introduced. At the last minute the AFL-CIO sent a letter to House members voicing its concern about what they perceived as a potential loss of "political independence" of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) if it were no longer placed in the Department of Labor. BLS along with the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis were the three agencies targeted for potential consolidation. Senators Moynihan (D-NY) and Kerrey (D-NE) have reintroduced another Bill (S.205) to establish a Federal Commission, however with an important change. The current bill does not single out the three agencies, instead leaving it open ended for the Commission. The Commission would consist of 16 Presidential and Congressional appointees with expertise in fields such as actuarial science, finance, and economics. The Commission would conduct a review of the entire U.S. statistical system, and issue a report that would include recommendations on whether statistical agencies should be consolidated into a centralized Federal Statistical Service. Title II, which covers statistical confidentiality and the sharing of data between designated Statistical Data Centers, is also part of the bill.

Provision to Revise OMB Circular A-110 on Data Sharing

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed last October included a provision that orders OMB to revise Circular A-110 "to require federal awarding agencies to ensure that all data produced under an award will be made available to the public through the procedures established under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)." Circular A-110 sets rules and regulations governing grants and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit agencies. The Freedom of Information Act provides procedures for individuals to gain access to federal agency information. One concern is that the legislation might require scientists to make data public before they have published anything, or force the disclosure of on-going clinical trials. Another problem is that the term "data" in the new legislation is not defined, and therefore it might encompass not only new research but also to all recorded information in all media including such items as computer programs, copyrightable works, and procedural manuals. A bill has been introduced by Representative Brown (D-CA) in the House (H. 88) to repeal the provision. In the meantime, OMB has issued a proposed revision to Circular A-110 in the Federal Register, February 4, 1999, pp. 5684-85 and seeks comments by April 5, 1999.

National Agricultural Statistics Services (NASS) Releases Data From the 1997 Census of Agriculture

NASS has released the first data from the 1997 Census of Agriculture, including comparisons to 1992. For example, the number of farms continues to decline. In 1992 there were 1,925,300 farms. The 1997 count was 1,911,859. The average size of farm has also declined, from 491 acres in 1992 to 487 in 1997. The average value of a farm, however, has increased. In 1992 the average value of land and buildings was $357,056. In 1997 it was $449,748. The number of farms operated by women has increased from 145,156 to 165,102, and the number of farms operated by persons of Spanish Origin has also increased from 20,956 to 27,717. For further information contact the NASS Customer Service Center at 1-800-727-9540, or visit their web site at http://www.usda.gov/nass/

Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Releases Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth: 1998

This is the third edition of an annual report from HHS on trends in the well-being of children and youth. The report presents the most recent and reliable estimates on more than 90 indicators of well-being. The indicators have been organized into five broad areas: population, family, and neighborhood; economic security; health conditions and health care; social development, behavioral health, and teen fertility; and education and achievement. New indicators for this edition include: fertility rate and number of births, food security, firearm related deaths, children and adolescents with HIV/AIDS, closeness with parents, parents' activities with children, sufficient hours of sleep. Some of the highlights include:

  • The overall teen birth rate for 15-19 year old women has been dropping since 1991, with Black teens having experienced the largest drop during that time period.

  • The use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine by high school students has increased during the 1990's, following periods of decreasing use during the previous decade.

  • Following years of increase, the violent crime arrest rate for male youth ages 10 through 17 declined substantially between 1994 and 1996.

  • Mortality rate for Black youth ages 15 through 19 has declined substantially since 1994, following increases that began in the late 1980's.

The entire report will be made available on the Internet at http://aspe.hhs.gov

Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) Releases Long-Distance Leisure Travel in the United States

This report is the first in a series of detailed profiles about the characteristics of long-distance trips, 100 miles or more, based on data from the 1995 American Travel Survey (ATS). It focuses on trips for rest or relaxation, sightseeing, outdoor recreation, entertainment and shopping that, as a whole, constitute one-third of all long-distance travel. Among the items, the report reveals that:

  • About 12 percent of leisure trips are made by commercial airplane.
  • American households traveling for leisure average about 3 nights away from home.
  • Over 8 million leisure trips are made by charter or tour bus each year.
  • More than one-third of all leisure trips are taken in the third calendar quarter.
  • Leisure trips represent 27 percent of all long-distance household trips. Other types of trips include personal business (14 percent), business (29 percent) and visit friends or relatives (30 percent).

Profiles of business travel and the socio-demographic characteristics of travelers are some of the topics that will be discussed in future ATS reports. The report, along with other data from the ATS is available on the BTS Internet site at http://www.bts.gov/ats. Copies of the report can be obtained by calling BTS at (202) 366-3882.

National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Releases Report on Smoking During Pregnancy, 1990-96

This report presents trend data for smoking during pregnancy. Data are presented for various characteristics including age of mother, race and ethnic origin, place of birth of mother, and state of residence. The rate of smoking during pregnancy has declined each year between 1990 (18.4 percent) and 1996 (13.6 percent). In 1996 over 400,000 women reported smoking during their pregnancies (13.6 percent of all births). The rates of smoking during pregnancy for women 15-19 years of age declined between 1990 and 1994, but increased in the last two years, and now have the highest rates of all age groups (17.2 percent in 1996). Among race and ethnic groups, American Indian, non-Hispanic white, and Hawaiian women had the highest rates of smoking during pregnancy in 1996, while Chinese women had the lowest rates. To receive this and other reports regularly, contact NCHS at (301) 436-8500, or contact their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/nchswww/

National Center for Education Statistics Releases The Condition of Education 1998

This volume is an indicator report, analyzing key data that measure the health of education, monitor important developments, and show trends in major aspects of education. The format of the volume is designed to present statistical information in a manner accessible to a general audience. The volume first presents three issue reports: college access and affordability; progress in educational achievement of Black students; and progress in the educational achievement of Hispanic students. These reports are followed by the major indicator groups: access, participation, and progress; achievement, attainment, and curriculum; economic and other outcomes of education; organization and management of educational institutions; climate and diversity of educational institutions; and financial and human resources of educational institutions. Copies of the report can be obtained by calling , toll free, the U.S. Department of Education at 1-877-433-7827.