Most of this legislation, regulations, and guidance pertains to the authority of OMB, which plays a critical role in oversight of the federal government’s widely dispersed statistical operations. The oversight dates to 1939, when the functions of a Central Statistical Board, created in 1933, were transferred to the then-named Bureau of the Budget (see Anderson, 1988; Duncan and Shelton, 1978; Norwood, 1995). Recent legislation and guidance addresses such system-wide issues as confidentiality protection and privacy of respondents, data quality (including peer review prior to dissemination), efficiency of operations, and evaluation of agencies’ performance.


The 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (Title 44, Section 35 of the U.S. Code, amended in 1986 and reauthorized in 1995 by P.L. 104-13) is the foundation for the modern statistical coordination and management mission of the Office of Management and Budget. It establishes OMB’s review power not only over federal statistical agencies, but also over the myriad other agencies throughout the federal government that collect information from individuals and organizations. This review power covers both data collection budgets and methods and practices for data collection and dissemination.


The PRA’s origins trace back to Executive Order 6226, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 1933, which established a Central Statistical Board to “appraise and advise upon all schedules of all Government agencies engaged in the primary collection of statistics required in carrying out the purposes of the National Industrial Recovery Act, to review plans for tabulation and classification of such statistics, and to promote the coordination and improvement of the statistical services involved.” Members of the board were appointed by relevant cabinet secretaries. The board was established in law for a 5-year period in 1935. Its functions were transferred to the Bureau of the Budget (itself established in 1921) in 1939, when the Budget Bureau was transferred to the Executive Office of the President.

The 1942 Federal Reports Act represented another milestone: It codified the authority for the Budget Bureau to coordinate and oversee the work of federal statistical agencies. Most famously, it provided that no federal

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