inputs and outputs associated with legally defined private nonprofit organizations. As noted earlier, BEA is already working to produce new aggregate tables of nonprofit-sector activity. Such data will improve policy makers’ ability to track the role of nonprofit institutions in providing services in specific areas such as education and health.
At this point, however, full and independent (non-input based) valuation of goods and services produced by government and by the economy’s nonprofit institutions remains a long way off. For the foreseeable future, national accountants and other data producers will have to choose from more standard options: valuing output at exchange prices (often zero); valuing output based on the cost of inputs; or imputing values based on GAAP (the generally accepted accounting principals), which attempts to approximate the prices at which the outputs of nonprofit organizations in the education and health sectors could have been sold. In some cases, practitioners may choose simply to provide physical indicators of output.
One obstacle to producing a double-entry accounting of the nation’s nonprofit activities is that they defy easy categorization. Nonprofit organizations and volunteer labor operate conspicuously and independently across many sectors of the economy. Volunteer labor is offered not just to nonprofit institutions, but also to government and other organizations, and nonprofit as well as governmental organizations utilize both paid and volunteer workers. All of this makes it problematic to prescribe a unified approach.
Much of the activity of the public and nonprofit sectors involves preservation and development of human capital. Conceptually, the output associated with public and nonprofit inputs to health should be valued in ways consistent with the methodology prescribed for the health account. A different methodology would be used for education and each of the other areas in which government or nonprofit institutions are active. In a real sense, development of the experimental health and education accounts is a prerequisite to the development of more comprehensive government or nonprofit satellite accounts.
The principal contribution of a satellite government account is the opportunity to make a bolder and more experimental stab at independent valuation of government output. As just indicated, work to construct such an account necessarily will draw from counting and valuation methodologies used in the accounts for the various sectors in which there is a strong government presence. As output valuation methods improve in health, education, and other services, the ability to estimate government output independently by definition also will improve.
A nonprofit-sector satellite account would require, at a minimum, a selective rearrangement of data for education, health, and other social services, and would entail major overlap not only with satellite accounts for activities in these areas but with market accounts as well. As with the government satellite account, a nonprofit account could embody numerous valuation methodologies. This fact underscores the panel’s view that there is no single right way to present input and