Recommendation 4-6: The Census Bureau should release Survey of Income and Program Participation data within 1 year of data collection.
Conclusion 4-8: Unlike other surveys of people and households that the Census Bureau conducts, the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) does not have a government client outside the Census Bureau or a federally mandated set of reports that are based on the survey. Not having an external client, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (which has a collaborative and financial stake in the monthly Current Population Survey), or a set of regular reporting requirements, as with the decennial census and the American Community Survey, has contributed to setbacks in the development of SIPP. The value of the survey has also been diminished over its history by sample cutbacks necessitated by cutbacks in funding.
We agree with an earlier Committee on National Statistics panel (National Research Council, 1993) that SIPP would benefit from a project director with full management and budget authority for design, evaluation, and operations. The budget should always include adequate research and development funding, since SIPP is a major ongoing survey that requires regular evaluation and improvement.