the importance of Subpart A, establishing uniform statutory confidentiality protections, which BLS has long needed as part of their effort to maintain survey response rates.
Hogan began his remarks with the point that conducting the research and development on data sharing marked the first real use of CIPSEA, as people learned about such things as the documentation required, the approvals needed, and the mechanics of applying it. Beyond IRS data, Hogan noted opportunities for data sharing in diverse areas, such as product line and price index information.
On the business list topic, Hogan stated that short-term goals can be accomplished while proceeding with long-range plans. For example, research can begin on the differences in the lists at the aggregate level. The Census Bureau has already seen benefits from list comparison work—for example, 10 percent more firms have been added to the research and development sampling frame, and costs and respondent burden have been reduced. Before a single list is possible, Hogan observed, tax data sharing and the role of the states (which provide and share data with BLS but not with the Census Bureau) must be addressed. Overall, there are a number of benefits to the Census Bureau made possible by data sharing, and he expressed excitement on behalf of the agency over the cooperative opportunities.
Adding to the comments of Fixler and Landefeld, Marcuss reiterated the BEA goal of bringing analytical energy to the task of demystifying data inconsistencies and making data from diverse sources fit. BEA will continue to adjust its methods and pursue new approaches to more fully exploit the currently sharable and available data. In addition, BEA seeks advice from the agencies and the IRS on the best, least intrusive, procedural changes in data-sharing practices that can improve estimates of gross domestic product. She added that the agency would quickly utilize information on the sources of differences between the Census Bureau and BLS data from any comparison work—for example, from a partial comparison of the business registers, even short of movement to a single list.
Marcuss added that advice from important data users—particularly policy makers in the administration and Congress, and businesses—on where the greatest weaknesses exist would continue to serve as valuable input. As a long-term goal, she hoped for increased data access for statistical purposes, confirming that BEA has already taken steps forward and is ready to participate in and use the information gained from the data-sharing projects. Her comments echoed those of the workshop in general. Overall, the agency representatives, workshop presenters, and other participants were supportive of extending data sharing to the extent that such arrangements can be safely implemented to increase the efficiency, accuracy, and consistency of the nation’s economic statistics.