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Facilitating Innovation in the Federal Statistical System: Summary of a Workshop
with states and land grant universities as well as the need to encourage the development of interdisciplinary teams. Constance Citro remarked that it might be beneficial to extend the ability that the National Agricultural Statistics Service has for making cooperative agreements to other agencies, but that would require new legislation.
Several of the workshop attendees remarked on the importance of research in enhancing innovation in the federal statistical system. Both Landefeld and Steven Dillingham (Bureau of Transportation Statistics) observed that cross-cutting research could be centralized, as suggested in Habermann’s paper. Landefeld, however, said that individual agencies would still need the ability to carry out research on specific topics relevant to their missions, such as national accounts.
Manuel de la Puente (Social Security Administration) pointed out that extramural research can bring into an agency outside people with new skills and abilities. To promote the synergies of extramural research, it is important to pair up outside researchers with internal agency staff. Edward Sondik (National Center for Health Statistics) agreed, asserting that it is stimulating for staff to be involved in extramural work.
Both Thomas Louis and Roderick Little (University of Michigan) commented on the type of research being performed by federal agencies. Little said that research by the federal statistical system may be skewed too far toward the observational end of the spectrum and not enough toward the experimental design end. Louis concurred, saying that it is critical for experiments to have the ability to compare approach A with approach B. In building a productive research program, it is necessary to attract researchers from outside the federal system. One way to do this, according to Groves, is through the use of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. This allows researchers, primarily from academic institutions, to leave the academic world for a specified period of time, work in a statistical agency, and then return.
Periodic Review and Feedback from Users
The importance of a periodic review of statistical programs to overcome barriers to innovation was stressed by several participants. Allan Schirm and Little discussed the need for regular evaluations of statistical programs, including their fitness for use. David Banks (Duke University) said that it would be useful to hold a workshop every five years on how to organize a statistical agency as if for the first time.
With respect to review and evaluation, Groves noted that creative