we attempt to differentiate between strategies that could be implemented relatively quickly at modest cost and those that would require longer term commitment.

Early on, the panel identified a set of principles to guide its work and, in turn, the development of recommendations presented in this chapter. These principles are detailed in Chapter 1 and summarized here:

  • Confidentiality: Statistical agencies have the responsibility to data providers and data subjects to protect the confidentiality of information that is provided. Data collected by the government must be maintained in such a way that identifiable information is not disclosed for administrative, regulatory, or enforcement purposes.

  • Public Purpose: Subject to confidentiality requirements, data sharing among government statistical agencies and data access by others should be facilitated when it serves a substantial public purpose. Data uses that serve a substantial public purpose include those that (1) lead to improvements in the quality, breadth, and usefulness of government statistical data and systems; (2) provide evidence crucial to informing government policies on social and economic issues; and (3) encourage research that advances scientific knowledge. The rationale for the public purpose principle is straightforward: government administrative record systems and survey databases generate enormous public value in terms of informing decision makers (including those in the private sector) and are maintained at considerable cost to the public. As such, the public is entitled to the full and effective use of these assets, provided that such uses do not compromise the confidentiality assurances afforded to respondents.

  • Targeting Deficiencies: Improvements to data collection should focus first on areas for which policy and research relevance is high but statistics needed to inform those policies and research are weakest. For business data, this means building up the statistical infrastructure for measuring dynamics and collecting information on rapidly growing economic sectors in which the activities of smaller and younger firms are disproportionately important, but for which data coverage is relatively weak.

  • Cost Efficiency: The statistical agencies should give the highest priority to actions that can be done expeditiously and at low cost. In this report, we identify a number of cases for which more creative use of existing data could lead to the production of useful statistics. The idea is to get as much information out of the system as possible for a given level of resource and data protection commitment.

Reflecting the charge to the panel and the concentration of its efforts, recommendations are organized around three systemic needs:

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