in this way. However, making data and research widely available is not universal practice. All drug-related agencies need to improve access to and encourage widespread analysis and reporting of their data. When access is not currently provided, steps need to be taken to provide it.
The committee recommends that public-use files of all major statistical series should be deposited in a data library. On a broader level, every agency sponsoring the collection of population-based data related to illegal drugs should require in their contracts and grants the timely deposit of public-use files in an appropriate data library or its dissemination in other ways.
In connection with this recommendation, see the committee’s recommendation in Chapter 3 specifically regarding the longitudinal file of data from the Monitoring the Future survey. Finally, we recognize the importance of ensuring that confidentiality be preserved. In the committee view, it is sponsors rather than data collectors who should make decisions regarding the level of detail released.
One of the major messages of this report is that economic data relating to illegal drugs need to be substantially improved. Major gaps have been identified in the collection and reporting of reliable data about the prices, total consumption, and expenditure on illegal drugs. The deficiency in this area arises in part because economic data for the most part have been ancillary to law enforcement efforts. In addition, efforts to collect reliable economic data have been hampered by a lack of accepted procedures for collecting economic information about illegal activities. In the committee’s view, major efforts are needed to improve such data.
The methodologies for collecting economic data on illegal drugs are at present insufficiently developed to begin regular collection of statistical data. The first stage in improved collection of economic data would be to improve the methodologies in this area.
One approach would be to assign the tasks of designing, collecting, reporting, and validating statistical series on economic data, such as prices, expenditures, and consumption, to a newly constituted economic working group. This group would consist of professional statisticians located in economic statistics agencies, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, as well as economists and statisticians with expertise in these methods who are working in an existing statistical unit of an agency focused on illegal drugs.
The first assignment of the economic working group would be to develop, test, and validate methods and procedures to report on prices, expenditures, and total consumption. The working group would need