Data-Sharing History and Legislation: Background Notes

Robert P. Parker

Consultant on Federal Statistics

During the past 20 years, the National Research Council of the National Academies has prepared several reports on data sharing and related issues, such as privacy and confidentiality. However, as noted in the discussion here of each of these reports, the topics covered by the Workshop on the Benefits of Interagency Business Data Sharing differ from those in the previous reports. The workshop focused on data and information on businesses, not on individuals, and their use for statistical, not research, purposes. In addition, the workshop focused on sharing by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and the Census Bureau; these three statistical agencies are authorized to share data under provision of Subpart B of the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) as enacted in December 2002.

This chapter reviews the history of CIPSEA and of efforts by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for related legislation that would expand data sharing by changing the provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 1976, which allow the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to share tax information with selected statistical agencies. CIPSEA provides statutory confidentiality protection for data collected by statistical agencies for statistical purposes (Subpart A), and it permits identifiable business records to be shared for statistical purposes by BLS, BEA, and the Census Bureau (Subpart B). CIPSEA, however, did not change the provisions of Internal Revenue Code Section 6103, which precludes these agencies from sharing tax return information for statistical purposes. Such additional sharing would allow the agencies to develop a single business register for all of their

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