Some statistical agencies have long-term cooperative relationships with international groups, for example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics with the International Labor Organization, the National Agricultural Statistics Service with the Food and Agriculture Organization, the National Center for Education Statistics with the International Indicators of Education Systems project of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the National Center for Health Statistics with the World Health Organization.
To be of most value, the efforts of statistical agencies to cooperate as partners with one another should involve the full range of their activities, including definitions, concepts, measurement methods, analytical tools, dissemination modes, and disclosure limitation techniques. Such efforts should also extend to policies and professional practices, so that agencies can respond effectively and with a coordinated voice to such government-wide initiatives as data quality guidelines, privacy impact assessments, performance rating criteria, institutional review board requirements, and others.
Finally, coordination efforts should encompass the development of data, especially for emerging policy issues (National Research Council, 1999a). In some cases, it may be not only more efficient, but also productive of needed new data for agencies to fully integrate the designs of existing data systems, such as when one survey provides the sampling frame for a related survey. In other instances, cooperative efforts may identify ways for agencies to improve their individual data systems so that they are more useful for a wide range of purposes.
Two of the more effective continuing cooperative efforts in this regard have been the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics and the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. The former was established in the mid-1980s by the National Institute on Aging, in cooperation with the National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau. The forum’s goals include coordinating the development and use of statistical data bases among federal agencies, identifying information gaps and data inconsistencies, and encouraging cross-national research and data collection for the aging population. The forum was reorganized in 1998 to include six new member agencies and has grown over the years to include 15 agencies. The forum develops a periodic indicators chart book, which was first published in 2000 and was most recently issued in 2008 (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, 2008).
The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics was formalized in a 1994 executive order to foster coordination and collabora-