sector users of CFS data. A list of the presentations at the meeting is provided in Enclosure B. Following the data-gathering sessions, the committee met in closed session to deliberate on its findings and recommendations and begin preparation of this report, which was completed through correspondence among members. In developing these findings and recommendations, the committee drew on the information gathered at its third meeting, articles in the technical literature,1 examples of CFS products, and the experience and expertise of individual members. The committee would like to thank all those who contributed to this review through their participation in the third committee meeting and their responses to follow-up questions.

In summary, the committee found that the CFS plays a unique role in providing data on domestic freight movements to inform a wide range of economic and policy analyses and related investment decisions. However, gaps in shipment and industry coverage and a lack of geographic and commodity detail limit the usefulness of the CFS data for a growing number of applications. Moreover, limitations due to the lack of detail are being compounded by the shrinking sample size. A national freight data architecture could eventually result in a more comprehensive national picture of freight flows. In the meantime, the committee recommends that the CFS be continued at least until an improved alternative has been established. In an effort to make future editions of the CFS more useful and more cost-effective in providing data for a range of users, BTS and the Census Bureau should (a) investigate opportunities to update the survey methodology, with emphasis on the use of new technologies to support increases in sample size through more cost-effective data collection; (b) establish improved mechanisms for soliciting suggestions and feedback from users to inform design decisions and prioritize survey modifications; and (c) reevaluate their roles and responsibilities within the CFS partnership to ensure adequate and timely funding for future surveys.

The remainder of this report commences with a brief overview of the CFS. The committee’s findings on (a) data use and data users and (b) the

1

A list of all nonproprietary materials considered by the committee is available from the Public Records Office of the National Academies (e-mail: publicac@nas.edu).



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