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Appendix A Governments Division Census and Surveys I n this appendix, the various census and survey programs that comprise the state and local government statistics programs are summarized. These program descriptions are based on information from the Census Bureau’s Governments Division website: http://www.census.gov/govs. CENSUS OF GOVERNMENTS The Census of Governments provides comprehensive statistics about governments and governmental activities, covering all state and local gov- ernments in the United States. Local governments include counties, cities, townships, special districts, and school districts. Data are obtained on government organizations, finances, and employment. The census provides the only source of periodic information that identi- fies and describes all units of government in the United States and reflects the use of nationally consistent definitions and classifications. Organization data include location, type, and characteristics of local governments and officials. Finances and employment data are the same as in comparable annual surveys and include revenue, expenditure, debt, assets, employees, payroll, and benefits. Government organization data and information are for March of the census base year (1992, 1997, etc.). Financial data are for the individual fiscal year that ended prior to July 1 of the census year. Employment data are for March of the census year. Every five years since 1957, for years ending in 2 and 7 (part of the Census Bureau’s periodic Economic Census). Reference periods for data vary by census phase. 129
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130 STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT STATISTICS AT A CROSSROADS There are three phases to the census: • Phase I is a precensus directory survey of the more than 87,000 local governments. It includes extensive legal research on govern- ment structure by state as well as a mail-out/mail-back survey, and it produces an updated list of all local governments and selected data. • Phase II covers all state and local governments, expanding the cen- sus year annual finance survey from about 14,000 to the more than 87,000 state and local governments. It uses in-house data compila- tions of source documents for many of the state and largest local governments, consolidated data submissions (usually electronic files) for about 55,000 local governments, Internet data collec- tion capabilities, and a mail-out/mail-back survey of the remaining governments. • Phase III covers all of the federal civilian, state and local govern- ments and expands the census-year annual employment survey from about 10,000 to the more than 87,000 local governments. It relies on consolidated submissions from more than 30 state respon- dents and an Internet data collection capability, with the remainder obtained through a mail-out/mail-back survey. Public releases include electronic files and Internet tables first, followed by printed reports. For the organization phase, releases are available within a year of the census year. The printed format includes Volume 1. Govern- ment Organization. Finance phase releases begin about 16 months after the close of the census year. They include files covering the finances of state gov- ernments, local governments by type, and finances of individual government units. Internet tables cover state governments, state and local governments, and employee retirement systems of state and local governments. Printed releases include Finances of County Governments, Finances of Municipali- ties and Township Governments, Compendium of Government Finances, and Employee Retirement Systems of State and Local Governments. Employment phase releases begin about 12 months after the census year. They include files covering employment and payroll of the federal government (civilian only), state governments, state and local governments by state and type, and employment of all individual governments. Internet tables cover federal employment, state employment, as well as state and lo- cal government employment by state. Printed releases include Employment of Major Local Governments, and Compendium of Public Employment.
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APPENDIX A 131 ANNUAL SURVEY OF STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCES The annual survey provides current estimates of state and local govern- ment financial activity. The coverage includes all state and local governments in the United States. Local governments include counties, municipalities, townships, special districts, and school districts. The data obtained are the same as for the census and include revenue data (taxes, charges, interest, and other earnings); expenditure data (total by function, such as education and police protection, and by accounting category, such as current opera- tions and capital outlays); debt data (issuance, retirement, and amounts outstanding); and financial assets data (securities and other holdings, by type). Data collection begins each October and continues for about 12 months. This voluntarily reported data are for each government’s annual accounting period that ends on or before June 30 of the survey year, with the months covered varying by government. The survey has been conducted annually since 1952, and periodic surveys of government finances have been conducted since 1902. It is a compilation of data from three sources: an enumeration of all 50 state governments, a survey of 13,000 selected nonschool local govern- ments (or of all 87,000 local governments for census years), and data from federal agencies. Collection methods vary by state and state agencies, and data from about 7,500 local governments are obtained in a mail-out/mail- back survey. Local governments are selected for the survey in noncensus years by a size-based sampling procedure. The probability of a government’s selec- tion is based on the size of its long-term debt, expenditure, population, or enrollment. All local governments above variable size cutoffs (such as a population of at least 50,000) or performing key functions (such as mass transit) are selected with certainty. A new sample is usually selected every five years, the most recent one being in fiscal year 2004. Also, for fiscal years 2001 and 2003, a subset of the sample was used. State and local government finance reports and data files are available about 12 months after the survey year. Tables provide summary data on financial activities covering state and local, state-only, and local-only gov- ernments. Finance reports include revenue by source, expenditure by func- tion, indebtedness, and financial holdings. In addition, downloadable files provide data in more detail, such as for individual governments.
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132 STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT STATISTICS AT A CROSSROADS LOCAL GOVERNMENT SCHOOL SYSTEM FINANCE SURVEY (FORMERLY EDUCATION FINANCE SURVEY) The Local Government School System Finance Survey provides statis- tics about the finances of elementary and secondary public school systems. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this data collection and re- sponses are voluntary. Partially funded by the National Center for Educa- tion Statistics, the survey provides current and comprehensive statistics on the financing of state public elementary and secondary education in the United States and helps determine whether funding systems have become more or less equitable over time. All public school systems that provide elementary or secondary education are covered, and private schools are excluded. The data collected include revenue by source (local property tax, monies from other school systems, private tuition and transportation pay- ments, school lunch charges, direct state aid, and federal aid passed through the state government), expenditure by function and object (instruction, support service functions, salaries, and capital outlay), indebtedness, cash and investments, direct state aid for 11 types of programs (such as general formula assistance, staff improvement, and special education); federal aid for Title I, Children with Disabilities, and Impact Aid programs; salaries and employee benefits by function; maintenance, transportation, and busi- ness activities; and spending for instructional equipment. Reported data are for school system fiscal years, and collection begins approximately six months after the fiscal year ends and continues for the next nine months. Data has been collected annually since 1977. From 1957 to 1977, school expenditure data were collected and published as part of the annual public finance survey. The methodology of this survey varies by year. In most fiscal years, a sample of school systems is selected as part of the larger sample of local governments used for the annual surveys of public finances and employ- ment. About 1,400 school systems that are financially dependent on a county or municipality or independent systems with enrollments of a least 10,000 are selected with certainty. Other systems are selected in propor- tion to the size of their contribution to total local government expenditure and debt. Every five years, or for years specified by the National Center for Education Statistics, all school systems are enumerated. Data for school systems are collected centrally from state education agencies, since these are part of more detailed data routinely collected for state education aid programs. A total of 23 states and the District of Columbia provide data for this program in Census Bureau format, and 27 states provide data in formats that must be converted by Census Bureau analysts. Public Education Finances reports are released as part of the Census of Governments for years ending in 2 and 7. Reports and statistical tables
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APPENDIX A 133 contain national and state aggregated data for major components of school system revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets. They also provide similar detail, per pupil, for school systems with enrollments larger than 15,000. Data files that contain full survey or enumeration data detail for each cov- ered school system are also available for download at the same site. Data for individual systems are public data and not subject to confidentiality limitations. STATE GOVERNMENT TAX COLLECTIONS SURVEY The Tax Collections Survey provides annual statistics on state govern- ment tax revenues for the 50 state governments. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this survey, and responses are voluntary. State govern- ments report tax revenues for more than 25 designated tax classifications, including sales and gross receipts, individual income, corporate income, motor fuels, motor vehicle licenses, and severance taxes. In each tax classi- fication, detail is specific to the revenue structure of each individual state. Data collection begins in October and continues for about nine months. Data are reported for tax collections during the states’ preceding fiscal year. Most states provide data in a mail-out/mail-back survey, but several states provide data in diverse individual formats that must be converted by the Census Bureau. Forms are sent to agencies in each state that are responsible for tax collections (such as revenue departments and budget and finance offices), and up to 10 agencies in a state may be contacted. State Government Tax Collections reports are released approximately nine months after the reference period. The reports contain national totals by type of tax with historical comparisons and state totals for major taxes, including detail where available. Additional statistics are provided on fis- cal years, population, and taxes per capita. Included are definitions for the designated tax classifications and footnotes explaining any major changes in state tax codes. QUARTERLY TAX SURVEY The Quarterly Tax Survey provides estimates of state and local gov- ernment tax revenues. All state and local governments in the United States that have tax collection authority are covered. Government tax authorities report tax revenues by type of tax. Most local governments report only property tax collections, and some report significant nonproperty revenues, such as income and sales taxes. State governments report data for more than 25 types of taxes, including personal income, sales, corporate income, motor fuel sales, motor vehicle license, and death and gift taxes. Data are reported for tax collections during the preceding calendar
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134 STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT STATISTICS AT A CROSSROADS quarter. Data collection begins one month after each quarter and continues for about three months. Data collection has been quarterly since 1962. The survey is in two parts: a mail-out/mail-back data collection of all 50 states and over 100 local governments with significant nonproperty tax collections and a mail-out/mail-back survey of about 6,000 selected local property tax collection agencies. Actual tax data are collected for state-level taxes and local governments with significant nonproperty taxes. Property taxes of local governments are estimated from a sample of 530 county areas, selected using a stratified sample procedure. All local tax collectors in county areas with population exceeding 200,000 and all cities and counties with quarterly tax revenue exceeding $60 million are selected with certainty. A random sample is taken within each remaining stratum. In each selected county area, all local property tax authorities receive a form, with the number of tax authorities in an area ranging from one to hundreds. Samples of local governments are reselected every five years. National estimates are a summation of state and weighted local government property tax data based on survey results. Imputation of nonproperty tax collections in smaller local governments is based on data collected from the annual finance survey. Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue reports are released 4 months after each quarterly reference period. The reports contain national totals by type of tax with historical comparisons and state totals for major taxes in the state governments. Revisions to his- torical data reflect the replacement of estimates with actual totals, and all data become final after one year. ANNUAL PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT SURVEY The Annual Public Employment Survey provides current estimates of state and local government employment and payrolls. All state and local governments in the United States are covered. Local governments include counties, cities, townships, special districts, and school districts. This is the only source of public employment data by program function and selected job categories. Data on employees include number of full- and part-time workers, gross pay, and hours paid for part-time employees (to calculate full-time-equivalent employment). Data by function include 25 primary functions, such as education, hospitals, police protection, public welfare, and highways. Data for job categories are limited to major catego- ries, such as instructional employees in education and public safety officers in police protection. Computed statistics include full-time-equivalent em- ployment (adjusting the number of hours worked by part-time employees to full-time equivalents), and average earnings for full-time employees. The survey is conducted in noncensus years. Reported data are for each
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APPENDIX A 135 government’s mid-March pay period. Data collection and processing begin late in March and continue for about seven months. This survey is a compilation of data from 3 sources: an enumeration of all 50 state governments, a two-stage, stratified sample survey of about 11,000 selected local governments, and data from federal agencies. By co- operative agreement, data for state agencies in 30 states and school systems in 4 states are consolidated and submitted by a single state agency (usually in electronic format). Data for agencies in other states and about 10,000 selected local governments are obtained in a mail-out/mail-back survey. Based on the survey and prior census results, weighted-data estimates are made of employment by all local governments. The 11,000 sample con- sists of 4,900 local governments that are selected with certainty, based on population size by type of government or the performance of key govern- ment functions, and 6,100 additional governments are selected based on state area and size of financial activity. A new sample is selected every five years. Public Employment reports provide U.S. and state area data about 10 months after the reference month (each March). Data content includes measures of full- and part-time employment, full-time-equivalent employ- ment, payrolls, average earnings, and selected historical data. Data are shown in total and by function. Similar content is included for each level of government. Reports consist of viewable tables and data files that users can download from the Internet. STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT SYSTEM SURVEY The Annual Public Employee Retirement System Survey provides cur- rent estimates of state and local government employment and payrolls. It includes all state and local government employee retirement systems providing defined benefit plans in the United States. Data are obtained on contributions from employees and employers, benefit and other payments, total assets and investment holdings, membership, and monthly beneficiary payments. Data collection and processing begin in mid-October and continue for about eight months. Reported data are for each public employee retirement system’s annual accounting period that ends on or before June 30 of the survey year. In census years, all public employee retirement systems are canvassed through a mail-out/mail-back survey. For the annual survey cycle, govern- ments with public employee retirement systems that are selected for the Annual Finance Survey sample are canvassed. State and local government public employee retirement reports and data files are available about 10
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136 STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT STATISTICS AT A CROSSROADS months after the survey year. Tables provide summary data on financial activities covering state and local, state-only, and local-only governments. Retirement reports include receipts by source, payments, financial holdings, membership, and benefit payments. In addition, downloadable files provide data in more detail for individual governments. QUARTERLY PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT SYSTEMS SURVEY The Quarterly Public Employee Retirement Systems Survey provides summary data on the assets, revenue, and expenditure of the 100 largest public employee retirement systems. The data cover about 85 percent of national activity among such entities. Data are collected on the financial holdings and activities of these largest public employment retirement sys- tems that are identified based on the value of their assets, as shown in the most recent Census of Governments. The financial holdings data show as- sets in various types of securities, such as stocks, bonds, federal notes, and mortgages. Revenue data consist of earnings, as well as contributions from governments and employees. Expenditure data are primarily payments to beneficiaries and administrative costs. Data collection starts at the begin- ning of each calendar quarter and continues for about three months. Col- lection is by means of a mail-out/mail-back survey. Quarterly Summary of Public-Employee Retirement Systems reports are published about four months after each calendar quarter. Summary tables show national financial transactions in the largest public employee retirement systems and trends for the past five years. DIRECTORY SURVEY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS The Directory Survey of Local Governments is one of three phases of the census. It identifies local governments for the Census of Governments, and provides selected data on local governments. All local governments in the United States, including counties, municipalities, townships, school districts and special districts, are covered. A government organization must be an identifiable entity, have a governmental character, be active at the start of the census year, and operate with substantial autonomy. The data collected include information on name and addresses, functions performed (such as education, health services, police protection), fiscal year endings, and areas served (such as partial, whole, or multicounty areas). This sur- vey is conducted every five years, just prior to the census and produces an updated list of all local governments and selected data. For the organization phase, releases are available within a year of the census year. Public releases include electronic files and Internet tables first, followed by printed reports.