of these standards with regard to the R&D statistics programs raise a cautionary flag to those who may propose that statistical agencies can thrive without conducting their own data collections.


To meet the needs of decision makers and other users of statistical data, a statistical agency must be able to provide objective, reliable information that may be used to evaluate programs and policies. To do so, the agency must have a widely acknowledged reputation for independence, which engenders trust in the accuracy and objectivity of the data. Unlike in many countries, where the independence of the statistical agency is organizationally ensured by virtue of the placement of that agency at a cabinet or subcabinet level, statistical agencies in the United States are part of mission-oriented departments and agencies. Within these departments, the independence of the statistical agency derives from its distinction from the parts of the department that carry out enforcement or policy-making activities.

The SRS division is fairly deeply embedded inside NSF, given that the agency has a fairly flat structure for a government agency (see Figure 8-1). Since 1991, the reporting arrangements have SRS as one of four divisions in

FIGURE 8-1 National Science Board organization.

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