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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition Appendix A Organization of the Federal Statistical System This appendix provides a brief tour of the U.S. statistical system. It begins with an overview of the statistical system vis-à-vis the federal government as a whole. It then briefly summarizes the statistical functions of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the principal statistical agencies, and a selection of major statistical programs housed or sponsored by other agencies. OVERVIEW Budget Levels and Trends For fiscal year 2008 OMB estimates $5 billion in budget authority for government statistical programs, covering those carried out by designated statistical agencies and by policy, research, and program operation agencies, excluding the 2010 decennial census, which had another $1 billion in budget authority. This estimate includes the more than 100 agencies with direct funding for statistical activities of $500,000 or more, defined by OMB to include not only survey and census design and data collection, but
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition also data analysis, forecasting, and modeling (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2008c:Table 1:3-4).1 Table A-1 shows approximately comparable estimates for 1998 and 2008 (in current and constant 2008 dollars) for statistical programs of all agencies with statistical activities of $500,000 or more and, separately, for the 14 member agencies of the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy (ICSP).2 In 2008, the ICSP agencies accounted for 42 percent of the total budget authority for statistical activities, excluding the 2010 census; with the 2010 census authority included, they accounted for 52 percent. The total budget authority for statistical activities increased in real terms by $905 million between 1998 and 2008, excluding the 2000 and 2010 censuses; with the censuses, the increase was $1.35 billion. Budget authority for the ICSP agencies, however, remained flat in real terms between 1998 and 2008, with some variation among agencies. In contrast, budget authority for the statistical activities of other agencies increased by 43 percent, so that the ICSP share of the total declined over the 10-year period from 50 to 42 percent without the censuses and from 56 to 52 percent with the censuses. Comparisons of funding for the ICSP agencies for the two years (1998 and 2008) by department have to be made with caution because of the difficulty in ensuring comparability among the programs included in the “other” category in both years. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) includes not only the National Center for Health Statistics, which experienced reduced funding over the period, but also equally large or larger agencies that conduct statistical programs, such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which gained funding over the period. Many of the HHS agencies that reported statistical activi- 1 “Direct funding” is directly appropriated to an agency. Some agencies (e.g., the Census Bureau) carry out statistical activities for other agencies on a cost-reimbursable basis. The funding for these activities is credited to the sponsoring agency and not to the data collection agency. OMB’s annual compilation of statistical programs generally includes the entire budget for each of the 14 agencies represented on the ICSP; other agencies determine which parts of their budgets should be included according to the OMB definition of statistical activities. 2 The nominal threshold of $500,000 for reporting statistical activities in 1998 is $734,500 in 2008 dollars, so that the budget authority for statistical activities may be under-reported for 1998 compared with 2008. To the extent possible, the “other agencies” categories in Table A-1 are limited to agencies in existence in both years (exclusion of a few small agencies accounts for the difference between the $5,962.4 million reported total budget authority, including the census, for 2008 in Table A-1 and the $5,989.1 million reported by OMB).
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition TABLE A-1 Budget Authority, Statistical Programs of the U.S. Government, by Department, Fiscal Years 1998 and 2008 (millions of 2008 dollars) Department or Agency Fiscal Year 1998 Fiscal Year 2008 Percent Changea Agriculture Economic Research Service* 103.0 77.4 –25 National Agricultural Statistics Service* 169.8 162.2 –4 Other agencies 238.2 255.7 +7 Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis* 61.2 77.2 +26 U.S. Census Bureau, except decennial census* 450.7 463.1 +3 U.S. Census Bureau, decennial census* 555.3 1,004.1 +81 Other agencies 81.2 91.4 +13 Defense 11.9 15.8 +33 Education National Center for Education Statistics* 154.7 255.2 +65 Other agencies N.A. 88.8 N.A. Energy Energy Information Administration* 95.4 95.5 ±0 Other agencies 34.5 16.3 –53 Health and Human Services National Center for Health Statistics* 121.7 113.6 –7 Other agencies 965.9 1,670.0 +73 Homeland Security 17.7 51.9 +193 Housing and Urban Development 42.7 50.6 +19 Interior 108.9 119.0 +9 Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics* 38.3 41.8 +9 Other agencies 19.0 22.5 +18 Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics* 546.8 544.3 ±0 Other agencies 140.0 82.1 –41 Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics* 30.5 27.5 –1 Other agencies 99.0 112.4 +14 Treasury (Internal Revenue Service) Statistics of Income Division* 37.4 41.3 +10 Other agencies 17.0 N.A. N.A.
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition Department or Agency Fiscal Year 1998 Fiscal Year 2008 Percent Changea Veterans Affairs 86.9 94.0 +8 Independent Agencies Office of Environmental Information, EPA* 207.1 118.1 –43 Office of Research, Evaluation and Statistics, SSA* 10.2 34.9 +242 Science Resources Statistics Division, NSF* 19.4 36.7 +89 Other agencies 143.2 199.0 +39 TOTAL, excluding decennial census 4,052.3 4,958.3 +22 Major statistical agencies (starred above) 2,046.2 2,088.8 +2 Other agencies 2,006.1 2,869.5 +43 TOTAL, including decennial census 4,607.6 5,962.4 +29 Major statistical agencies (starred above) 2,601.5 3,092.9 +19 Other agencies 2,006.1 2,869.5 +43 NOTES: Amounts represent actual and estimated direct budget authority for 1998 and 2008, respectively. 1998 dollars are converted into real 2008 dollars by the gross domestic product chain-type price indexes for federal government nondefense consumption expenditures of 93.4 in mid-1998 and 134.4 in mid-2008 (Table 3.10.4, line 34, at www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/SelectTable.asp?Selected=N#S3). The amounts for the Environmental Protection Agency include all of EPA and not just the Office of Environmental Information. Funding for the National Center for Health Statistics Office of the Director is included in the 1998 amount but not the 2008 amount. Agencies that are not statistical agencies self-report to OMB on the activities they determine meet the OMB definition for reporting (see text). N.A. = No “other agencies” reported. aCalculated as: (2008 – 1998) / 1998. *Member, Interagency Council on Statistical Policy. SOURCE: Data from U.S. Office of Management and Budget (1999:Table 1; 2008c:Table 1). ties are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Some NIH funding for statistical activities, such as for the surveys sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, is comparable to the activities of ICSP members, but much of the statistical work reported by NIH is not. Not all of the work of ICSP agencies is carried out in-house. For fiscal year 2009, OMB estimates that 39 percent of the total budget authority of ICSP agencies will be used to purchase statistical services, such as data collection and analysis, from other organizations (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2008c:Table 3). About 28 percent of purchases (11 percent of total budget authority) will reimburse state and local governments for administrative records (e.g., birth and death records provided to the National
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition Center for Health Statistics and unemployment insurance wage records provided to the Bureau of Labor Statistics); almost 50 percent of purchases (19 percent of total budget authority) will be paid to private organizations for data collection and analysis services; and about 25 percent of purchases (9 percent of total budget authority) will be paid to other federal agencies, principally the Census Bureau. In dollar terms, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Center for Health Statistics dedicate the largest amounts of their budgets to purchasing statistical services; by percentage of budget authority, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Science Resources Statistics Division, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Center for Health Statistics are the largest users of purchased services. These patterns have remained roughly constant over the past decade (see U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 1999:Table 3). Value Spending on statistical programs is a tiny fraction of overall federal spending: In fiscal year 2008, the $5 billion in budget authority for all statistical programs identified by OMB amounted to 0.02 percent of the budget authority of about $2.5 trillion for the federal government. On a per capita basis, the $5 billion is equal to about $16 for every U.S. resident (305.7 million people in late 2008; see www.census.gov). A basic public policy question is the value that the statistical system delivers for the federal government and the public. It is difficult to assign an overall valuation to the system or even to a specific agency or program (see National Research Council, 1985b:Ch. 3, App. 3A). A sense of value can be obtained in some instances by comparing the dollars spent on providing key statistics to the dollars that such statistics drive in the economy and society. For example, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics had an estimated budget authority of $69 million in fiscal year 2008. Output from the CPI program is used for annual cost-of-living adjustments to payments for retirees and other beneficiaries under the Social Security program, which provided $585 billion in benefits to 50.4 million people in 2008 (one-sixth of the U.S. population; see http://www.ssa.gov): a difference of 1 percentage point in the CPI index amounts to about $6 billion in additional (or reduced) Social Security benefits in the subsequent year. Annual changes in the CPI also affect changes in commercial and residential rents, public and private sector wages, and components of the
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition federal income tax code. Reports of monthly changes in the CPI are a major input for Federal Reserve Board decisions in setting short-term interest rates and to financial decisions throughout the public and private sectors. There are other such examples of consequential statistics throughout government and the economy. Some statistical programs may lack clear-cut links to public and private sector financial outlays, but they nonetheless serve other important purposes: Providing information to inform policy makers and the public about the social and economic health of the nation, states, and localities—for example, the Bureau of Economic Analysis provides estimates of gross domestic product not only for the nation each quarter, but also for states and metropolitan areas each year, and the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey provides estimates of educational attainment, median income, immigration, poverty, and many other characteristics for large and small geographic areas annually. Providing empirical evidence with which to develop and evaluate federal, state, local, and private-sector programs—for example, the American Housing Survey, sponsored by the Office of Policy Development and Research in the Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducted by the Census Bureau, provides valuable data on housing condition and housing finance with which to inform housing policy (see National Research Council, 2008c). Providing input to important social science research that, in turn, informs the public and policy making—for example, the National Long-Term Care Survey, funded by the National Institute on Aging, produced unexpected findings of declining disability rates for older Americans over time (see also National Research Council, 2005b). Structure The United States has a highly decentralized statistical system in comparison with other developed countries (see Norwood, 1995). Essentially, the system grew by adding separate agencies whenever the need for objective empirical information on a particular aspect of the economy, society, or environment came to the fore (see Part II). Periodic recommendations from presidential commissions and other initiatives to consolidate one or more of the principal statistical agencies have been ignored.
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition The statistical coordinating, clearance, review, and planning functions of the Statistical and Science Policy Office of OMB, which have their origins in the 1930s (see Appendix B), provide an important integrative force for the U.S. statistical system. Because, however, statistics on agriculture, education, health, justice, labor, and other topics are housed in agencies in different cabinet departments with different statutory provisions and are reviewed by different congressional committees, the system has limited capability to respond to changing priorities by such means as reallocating budgets across subject areas or to streamline agency operations by such means as sharing data (with some important exceptions in recently enacted legislation—see Appendix B). Figure A-1 shows the major statistical programs in the executive branch of government by cabinet department: about 100 agencies or offices with statistical activities that have at least $500,000 direct budget authority in fiscal year 2008 (counting each NIH institute or center as a separate agency). At the center of the system, in a sense, is the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which includes the Statistical and Science Policy Office headed by the chief statistician of the United States, a senior executive civil service position. OIRA also includes the clearance officers who review individual survey and other information requests from most agencies; staff of the Statistical and Science Policy Office clear information requests from many of the principal statistical agencies and consult with the OIRA desk officers for the other agencies. Other parts of OMB recommend budgets for statistical agencies and programs in collaboration with the Statistical and Science Policy Office. The chief statistician chairs the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy; the 14 agencies that are members of the ICSP are in nine cabinet departments and three independent agencies. Some of these agencies report directly to the secretary or other high-level official of their cabinet department; others are one, two, or even more layers further down the hierarchy; see Figure A-2. Several of these agencies have federal-state cooperative statistical programs that produce some of the nation’s most important statistics, such as birth and death rates from vital records maintained by state registrars and estimates of employment from wage records maintained by state employment security offices. The 14 agencies have their yearly budget requests reviewed and approved by seven different subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees; see Figure A-2. The fact that different statistical
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition FIGURE A-1 Organization of principal federal statistical agencies and programs, by department, fiscal year 2008. • Member, Interagency Council on Statistical Policy. ○ Offices or agencies with estimated spending on statistical activities of at least $500,000 in fiscal year 2008. SOURCE: Based on U.S. Office of Management and Budget (2008c: Table 1).
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition agencies fall into different components of the federal budget for purposes of annual congressional appropriations complicates the possibility of coordination of statistical programs across the government. Finally, there are some important federal agencies that have statistical activities that are not included in the OMB annual compilation because they are not part of the executive branch. These agencies include the Congressional Budget Office, which develops and applies projection models for the budgetary impact of current and proposed federal programs; the Federal Reserve Board, which compiles the widely used Flow of Funds Report and other statistical series and periodically conducts the Survey of Consumer Finances; and the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which uses statistical data in evaluations of government programs. U.S. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET The 1995 reauthorization of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 and prior legislation give the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs the authority to approve all agency information collection requests, including all survey and other statistical information requests. OIRA also reviews all proposed federal regulations. The chief statistician’s office in OIRA (the Statistical and Science Policy Office) establishes statistical policies and standards, identifies priorities for improving programs, evaluates statistical programs for compliance with OMB guidance, reviews statistical agency budgets, approves information collections for many of the principal statistical agencies, provides guidance to OIRA desk officers who review statistical information requests from other federal agencies, and coordinates U.S. participation in international statistical activities. As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act, the office annually puts out Statistical Programs of the United States Government (the “blue book;” see U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2008c). It also prepares a chapter each year in the Analytical Perspectives volume of the President’s budget, which provides a cross-cutting analysis of the budget requests for the principal statistical agencies (see U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2008a). The chief statistician’s office currently has a staff of six professionals, some of whom focus largely on science policy. The chief statistician chairs the ICSP, which began operating informally in the late 1980s and was authorized in statute in the 1995 reauthorization of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The chief statistician’s office also sponsors the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology and other bodies that
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition FIGURE A-2 Members of the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy: Organizational Location and Relevant Congressional Appropriations Subcommittee based on subcommittee jurisdictions in the 110th Congress.
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition help to coordinate the statistical system, such as the Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics and the Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (see discussion in Part II under Practice 11). Appendix B provides background information on the Paperwork Reduction Act, statistical policy directives issued by the chief statistician’s office, and other legislation that the office oversees for the U.S. statistical system. PRINCIPAL STATISTICAL AGENCIES This section provides information—primarily from agency web sites (see Appendix D) and OMB publications—on 13 of the 14 members of the ICSP, excluding only the Office of Environmental Information in the Environmental Protection Agency, which is not a self-contained statistical unit. The information provided for the 13 agencies includes origins, authorizing legislation or other authority, status of head (presidential appointee, career senior executive service official), full-time permanent staffing levels (see U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 1999, 2008c:App. B), and principal programs (see Table A-1 for budget levels and trends). The agencies are discussed in alphabetical order. Bureau of Economic Analysis The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), along with the Census Bureau, is part of the Economics and Statistics Administration in the Department of Commerce, headed by the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs. BEA’s director is a career senior executive service appointee; the bureau has a full-time staff of about 500 people (compared with about 420 people in 1998). BEA’s history traces back to 1820 when the Secretary of the Treasury was directed by Congress to compile and publish statistics on U.S. foreign commerce. Three 20th-century predecessors of BEA were all located in the Department of Commerce: the Bureau of Statistics (1903-1912); the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce (1912-1945); and the Office of Business Economics (1945-1972). BEA produces statistics on the performance of the nation’s economy. Although BEA collects some source data, it primarily compiles data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other agencies as input to estimating the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs),
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition excluding the 2010 census and ACS. The amount of reimbursable work for the Census Bureau was about the same in real terms in 1998 (see U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 1999:Table 2, 2008c). Economic Research Service The Economic Research Service (ERS), along with the National Agricultural Statistics Service, reports to the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The administrator of ERS is a career senior executive service appointee; the agency has a staff of about 430 (a decrease from about 510 in 1998). The origins of ERS trace back to 1905, when USDA established the Office of Farm Management, renamed the Office of Farm Management and Farm Economics in 1919. The Office’s research areas included farm organization, cost of production, farm labor, farm finance, land economics, agricultural history, and rural life studies. In 1922, USDA established the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (BAE), which not only conducted research, but also, in the 1930s, served as the central planning agency for department policy. In 1953 USDA centralized agricultural policy planning in its administrative office and reassigned the economic research and service functions of BAE to two new agencies, the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Agricultural Research Service. In 1961, USDA created the Economic Research Service (ERS) to concentrate economic research in a single agency. Today, ERS conducts economic research and policy analysis that informs program and policy decisions throughout USDA. The agency’s mission is to anticipate food, agricultural, agri-environmental, and rural development issues that are on the horizon and conduct peer-reviewed economic research so that research findings are available when issues require decisions by policy makers. ERS does not make recommendations; instead, it designs its research to demonstrate to users the consequences of taking alternative policy or programmatic pathways. ERS is also the primary source of statistical indicators that, among other things, gauge the health of the farm sector (including farm income estimates and projections), assess the current and expected performance of the agricultural sector (including trade), and provide measures of food insecurity in the United States and abroad. ERS jointly funds with the National Agricultural Statistics Service a major survey on farm household income and crop practices, the Agricultural Resources Management Survey (ARMS).
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition Energy Information Administration The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is an agency of the Department of Energy (DOE); its administrator is a presidential appointee. EIA has a staff of about 360 (about the same number as in 1998). EIA was created by Congress in 1977 as part of the newly established Department of Energy. Its mission is to provide policy-independent energy data, forecasts, and analyses in order to promote sound policy making, efficient markets, and public understanding regarding energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. To assure EIA’s independence, the Department of Energy Organization Act specifies that EIA’s products are not subject to clearance by executive branch officials; in particular, the administrator does not need to obtain the approval of any other DOE official for data collection and analysis, and he or she does not need to obtain the approval of anyone in DOE or elsewhere in the executive branch before publishing energy data and analysis reports. Many EIA data products, such as weekly, monthly, and annual data on petroleum and natural gas supply, deal with specific industries; others contain data on all fuel types. Participation in EIA energy surveys is mandatory. EIA conducts surveys, using private contractors, of energy producers, users, and transporters, and certain other businesses. Data on energy consumption are collected for households, commercial buildings, manufacturing, and transportation. Analyses prepared by EIA staff cover energy economics, technology, production, prices, distribution, storage, consumption, and environmental effects. EIA forecasts cover all energy types and include supply, consumption, prices, and other factors; short-term forecasts go out 6-8 quarters into the future; 20-year projections are also developed and often serve as the baseline for independent analyses of policy proposals that are prepared by EIA at the request of Congress or the administration. More than three-quarters of EIA’s resources are used for energy data collection and dissemination; the rest are used to support forward-looking forecasts, projections, and analyses. National Agricultural Statistics Service The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), along with ERS, reports to the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics in USDA. The administrator of NASS is a career senior executive service appointee; NASS has about 1,100 staff (about the same number as in 1998).
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition USDA, which President Lincoln called “the people’s department,” was established in 1862; in 1863, it established a Division of Statistics, which began publishing monthly crop reports. A scandal in 1905 regarding leaks of cotton crop forecasts to a financier led to legislation in 1909 that made premature disclosure of agricultural statistical reports a criminal offense and established the Crop Reporting Board (now the Agricultural Statistics Board) to oversee the physical security of the reports and to provide expert judgment on crop forecasts. A USDA reorganization in 1961 led to the creation of the Statistical Reporting Service, known today as the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), of which the Agricultural Statistics Board is a part. NASS acquired responsibility for the Census of Agriculture beginning in 1997, collecting the data through a contract with the Census Bureau for handling the mail questionnaires and by using its field office staff to perform detailed editing, follow-up, and analysis. Previously, the agriculture censuses were the responsibility of the Census Bureau with extensive input from NASS. The agriculture census dates back to 1840, when it was conducted as part of the decennial population census; the agriculture census was made quinquennial beginning in 1925. NASS works with its field offices to carry out hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. Examples include production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm finances, chemical use, and changes in the demographics of U.S. producers. Interviewing staff are obtained through contracting with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. National Center for Education Statistics The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), along with three research and evaluation centers, is part of the Institute of Education Sciences in the Department of Education. Its commissioner is a presidential appointee for a fixed term of 6 years; it has a staff of about 110 people (about the same number as in 1998). NCES’s origins date back to 1867 when Congress established a Department of Education and gave it a primary mission of “collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing such information re-
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition specting the organization and management of schools and school systems and methods of teaching.” The legislation also charged the Commissioner of Education to issue an annual report. However, only 2 years later the department was abolished and the Office of Education was transferred to the Department of the Interior, where it remained through 1939. The Office of Education was part of the newly created Federal Security Agency from 1939 to 1953, when it was made part of the newly created Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. A separate Department of Education was established in 1980. A major function of the Office of Education throughout its history has been the collection and publication of education statistics. NCES was established in 1965 as a staff office reporting to the Commissioner of Education. NCES received statutory authority in 1974; in 1980 it was made part of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, which in 2002 became the Institute of Education Sciences. Supporting the independence of NCES, the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, which created IES (20 USC §9517(d)), stipulated that “each Commissioner, except the Commissioner for Education Statistics, shall carry out such Commissioner’s duties … under the supervision and subject to the approval of the Director of IES.” NCES has an extensive survey program, including longitudinal surveys that follow the educational experience of cohorts of the U.S. population from early childhood through adulthood, periodic surveys of adult literacy, and international studies of educational achievement. It also collects the “Common Core of Data” from administrative records of state and local K-12 educational agencies and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. It regularly assesses the educational knowledge and achievement of primary and secondary school students in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It also administers the Statewide Data Systems Program, which provides grants to the states to develop longitudinal databases of student records for analyzing student performance and for identifying methods to improve achievement. NCES contracts for a substantial portion of its work, including not only data collection, but also data analysis and preparation of reports. In 2009, 97 percent of its estimated budget authority will be used for data and analysis from state agencies, the Census Bureau, and private contractors (about the same percentage as a decade ago).
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition National Center for Health Statistics The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in HHS. The director of NCHS is a career senior executive service appointee; NCHS has a staff of about 520 people (about the same number as in 1998). NCHS’s roots lie in two formerly separate historical strands of the provision of national health statistics. The first strand is vital statistics on births, deaths, and other life events; it traces back to 1902, when Congress gave the newly created permanent Census Bureau the authority to establish registration areas to produce nationally comparable vital statistics by working with state agencies. This function was transferred in 1946 to the Federal Security Administration, which was folded into the new Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1953. The second strand is general statistics on the nation’s health, which were provided for in the 1956 National Health Survey Act. NCHS was created in 1960 as the merger of the National Office of Vital Statistics and the National Health Survey Division; it was relocated every few years in HHS until its last relocation in 1987, when it was made part of CDC. In 2005 it became one of three centers reporting to the newly created Coordinating Center for Health Information and Service in CDC. NCHS has four major programs: The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), in continuous operation since 1956, which collects a wide range of information on self-reported health status and conditions and use of healthcare services by the population. Surveys of healthcare providers, including nursing homes, hospitals, and outpatient facilities. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which not only ascertains self-reported information on health and dietary intake, but also, by use of mobile examining units, obtains extensive information from physical examinations and laboratory tests. Vital statistics. In 2009, according to OMB, 76 percent of NCHS’s estimated budget authority will be used to purchase data collection and reporting services from state and local governments, the Census Bureau, and private contractors (slightly more than a decade earlier).
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics The Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (ORES), along with eight other offices, reports to the Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy of the Social Security Administration (SSA), which became independent from HHS in 1995. ORES is headed by an associate commissioner, who is a career senior executive service appointee; it has a staff of about 100 people (comparable information is not available for 1998). SSA began as the Social Security Board in 1935; it became part of the Federal Security Agency in 1939, part of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1953, and part of HHS in 1980; it regained independent agency status in 1995. From the outset, SSA has had a research, statistics, and evaluation function. ORES conducts research and evaluation on the effects of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income and proposed changes in those programs on individuals, the economy, and program solvency. It provides data on program benefits and covered workers and develops and operates microsimulation models that estimate the costs and distributional effects of proposed changes in Social Security programs. Periodically, it has sponsored surveys of new beneficiaries, linked with SSA administrative records. Science Resources Statistics Division The Science Resources Statistics Division (SRS) is part of the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Its director is a career senior executive service appointee; it has a staff of about 50 people (comparable information is not available for 1998). At its founding in 1950, NSF was charged to maintain a register of scientific and technical personnel so that the nation would be able to mobilize the scientific and technical work force in the event of a major war. Although no longer required to maintain a complete register, NSF has continued (by the terms of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended) to have responsibility “to provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, and analysis of data on scientific and engineering resources and to provide a source of information for policy formulation by other agencies of the Federal Government.” NSF also has a congressional mandate from 1980 to provide information on women and minorities in science and engineering.
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition The NSF mandates provide the basis for two major statistical programs in SRS: censuses and surveys of people trained in or working in science and engineering positions and of new bachelor’s graduates, new master’s graduates, and doctoral recipients in science and engineering fields; and surveys of research and development (R&D) expenditures by private industry and academic institutions and of R&D funding by the federal government. To support its programs, 87 percent of SRS’s estimated budget authority in 2009 will be used to purchase data collection and other services from the Census Bureau and private contractors (comparable information for a decade ago is not available). SRS also serves as staff to the National Science Board and produces the biennial congressionally mandated Science and Engineering Indicators Report, which uses data from all 11 of the SRS surveys. Statistics of Income Division The Statistics of Income Division (SOI), along with four other units, is part of the Office of Research, Analysis, and Statistics of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the Department of the Treasury. The director is a career senior executive service appointee; it has a staff of about 170 people and funds an additional 250 IRS field positions for statistical processing purposes (comparable information is not available for 1998). SOI’s history traces back to the enactment of authority to levy individual income taxes in the 16th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified in 1913. The Revenue Act of 1916 mandated the annual publication of statistics related to the “operations of the internal revenue laws.” SOI provides annual income, financial, and tax data, based largely on individual and corporate tax returns and on returns filed by most tax-exempt organizations. It also provides periodic data derived from other returns and schedules, such as estate and gift tax returns and schedules of gains and losses from sales of capital assets. SOI data are available to staff in the Department of the Treasury and the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation for policy analysis and revenue estimation, and to the Congressional Budget office for modeling Social Security and Medicare programs. Selected tax return data are also available, under strict confidentiality protection provisions, for use by the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service in conducting business and agriculture censuses and surveys and producing the National
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition Income and Product Accounts. (See discussion in Appendix B of the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act.) OTHER MAJOR STATISTICAL PROGRAMS This section lists and briefly describes six major statistical programs that are conducted or sponsored by agencies of the federal government other than the principal statistical agencies. The intent is to illustrate the range of the federal government’s statistical portfolio. Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)—MEPS is a statistical program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the Department of Health and Human Services. MEPS is the core healthcare expenditure survey in the United States with a primary analytical focus directed to the topics of healthcare access, cost, and coverage. MEPS was designed to provide data for healthcare policy analysis and research; it was first conducted in 1977 and again in 1987 (under different names) and became a continuous survey in 1996. MEPS consists of a family of three interrelated surveys: the Household Component (HC), the Medical Provider Component (MPC), and the Insurance Component (IC). The household survey collects information from household members and their health care providers and employers in order to construct a complete picture of medical care use, expenditures, and health insurance coverage and reimbursements. Households are in a MEPS panel for five rounds of interviewing that cover 2 years, so that patterns of medical care and expenditures can be observed over time; a new household panel begins every year. Data for the MEPS household and medical provider surveys are collected by private contractors; the household survey sample of about 14,000 households per year is drawn from the NCHS National Health Interview Survey. In addition, the MEPS Insurance Component (IC) collects data each year from a sample of about 30,000 private and public sector employers on the health insurance plans they offer their employees. The collected data include the number and types of private insurance plans offered (if any), premiums, contributions by employers and employees, eligibility requirements, benefits associated with these plans, and employer characteristics. Data for the MEPS IC are collected by the Census Bureau. The MEPS budget accounted for about one-sixth of the total AHRQ budget of about $330 million in 2008.
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS)—NAWS is a survey of the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) in the Department of Labor, which provides data on wage and migration history, type of crops worked, unemployment benefits, housing, health care, use of public programs, and other characteristics of the U.S. crop labor force. The information, which is used by numerous federal agencies for occupational injury and health surveillance, estimating the need for services for workers, allocating program dollars to areas of greatest need, and program design and evaluation, is obtained directly from farm workers through personal interviews. Since 1988, when the survey began, nearly 50,000 workers have been interviewed. The survey samples crop workers in three cycles each year to reflect the seasonality of agricultural production and employment. Workers are located at their farm job sites. During the initial contact, arrangements are made to interview the respondent at home or at another location convenient to the respondent. Depending on the information needs and resources of the various federal agencies that use NAWS data, between 1,500 and 4,000 workers are interviewed each year. NAWS is an important although small component of the ETA budget of $9 billion, 95 percent of which reimburses state agencies for data from administrative records on employment and wages. National Automotive Sampling System (NASS)—NASS is an administrative-records-based data collection system of the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Department of Transportation. NASS was created in 1979 as part of a nationwide effort to reduce motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths on U.S. highways. NASS samples accident reports of police agencies within randomly selected areas of the country. For the Crashworthiness Data System component of NASS, NCSA field researchers collect detailed information from police accident reports for selected crashes on exterior and interior vehicle damage, occupant injury, environmental conditions at the time of the crash, and other characteristics. For the General Estimates System component of NASS, only basic information is recorded from the police accident reports for a larger sample of crashes. The NASS infrastructure is also used for special studies and surveys, such as a recently completed National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS), which sampled police accident reports in real time and obtained on-scene information in addition to the information reported by the police.
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition NHTSA’s overall budget is about $840 million; the budget for the National Center for Statistics and Analysis was about $36 million in 2008 and will decrease to about $28 million in 2009 with the completion of the NMVCCS. The National Automotive Sampling System’s budget is about $12 million. National Resources Inventory (NRI)—The NRI is a statistical program of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the Department of Agriculture. The current NRI is a longitudinal survey of soil, water, and related environmental resources designed to assess conditions and trends on non-federal U.S. land parcels. NRCS has conducted the NRI in cooperation with the Iowa State University Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology since 1977. The NRI was conducted on a 5-year cycle during the period 1982 to 1997 but beginning in 2000 is now conducted annually. NRI data were collected every 5 years for 800,000 sample sites; annual NRI data collection occurs at slightly less than 25 percent of these same sample sites. Data collected on conditions for the same sites year by year enable analysis of the effects of resource conservation programs and other applications. The NRI is a small but valuable component of NRCS’s budget of about $800 million. National Survey on Drug Use & Health (NSDUH)—NSDUH is a continuing survey of the Office of Applied Studies (OAS) in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is the nation’s primary data system for collecting data on the incidence and prevalence of substance abuse and adverse health consequences associated with drug abuse from the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States ages 12 and older. NSDUH (formerly called the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse) was fielded periodically from 1972 to 1990 and annually beginning in 1991. The completed sample size each year is about 67,500 people, with oversampling of teenagers and young adults; data collection is by a private contractor. The budget for statistical activities of SAMHSA, which includes not only NSDUH, but also the Drug and Alcohol Services Information System and its associated surveys (the primary data source for information on the nation’s treatment system and outcomes), the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) (a public health surveillance system, which monitors drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments, as well as drug-related deaths investigated by medical
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Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition examiners and coroners), and other programs, is about $130 billion of a total SAMHSA budget of about $3.2 billion. Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID)—The PSID is a longitudinal survey that began in 1968 and has followed several thousand families ever since that time. It is conducted by the Survey Research Center of the Institute for Social Research of the University of Michigan. While the PSID’s original funding agency was the Office of Economic Opportunity of the Department of Commerce, the study’s major funding source is now the National Science Foundation. Substantial additional funding has been provided by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Economic Research Service of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Labor, and the Center on Philanthropy at the Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. The PSID emphasizes the dynamic aspects of economic and demographic behavior, but its content is broad, including sociological and psychological measures. From 1968 to 1996, the PSID interviewed individuals in the original sample of about 4,800 families every year, whether or not they were living in the same dwelling or with the same people. In 1997 interviewing was changed to every other year, the original sample was reduced, and a sample of Hispanic families added in 1990 was replaced by a sample of post 1968 immigrant families and their adult children of all ethnic groups. The current sample of families, including those formed by children leaving their parental home, is about 8,000. Citation studies show that since 1968, more than 2,000 journal articles, books and book chapters, government reports, working papers, and dissertations have been based upon the PSID. The PSID was founded to study poverty and the effects of programs to combat poverty, and an important early finding was that family structure changes such as divorce are as important to family well-being as employment. As the survey has added content and extended its period of observation, the data have also contributed importantly to studies of intergenerational patterns of work, welfare receipt, and other behaviors, international comparisons with panel data from other countries, neighborhood effects on family well-being (using data files augmented with census-based characteristics of sample members’ communities), and long-term trends in marital and fertility histories and living arrangements.