is evident from the discussions at the workshop. She emphasized that a global evaluation of the current state and the future of federal household surveys will involve making some difficult choices and setting priorities.
Kalton argued that approaching the task incrementally is quite appropriate. Groves said that, although he agrees, he would like to see a vision crystallize in the near future. Parts of a vision have seemed to emerge during the workshop and nailing that down soon would make incremental steps toward a specific vision possible. Andrew White also urged participants to spell out the intended goals and line up initiatives with their expected outcomes, especially in light of the magnitude of the projects discussed.
Abraham summarized one of the main themes of the workshop as the importance of survey content integration. One aspect of this is the use of common definitions for the concepts measured—to the extent that this is appropriate—because comparability enables researchers to make better use of the information available. Kalton said that the discussion of the development of standardized disability measures was a good example of the benefits, especially when the questions are set up so that additional measures can be added to expand the definition of a concept. The main set of questions provides a valuable benchmark for comparison across surveys.
Abraham argued that making headway in the area of integration of content would require agencies working together from the planning stages of a survey and collaborating during redesign efforts to determine crucial content. The burden cannot be placed entirely on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Cynthia Clark recalled her experience working on the United Nations Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics, which brought together organizations to identify the core data items that needed to be produced.
Trivellore Raghunathan compared federal statistical agencies to academic departments, in which researchers are focused on their particular disciplines. His own work illustrates that bringing together interdisciplinary teams to address these types of issues works well. This was echoed in Groves’s comments that people have to stop talking to just themselves and begin a dialogue with others whom they do not usually think about when they design data collections.
Hal Stern raised the question of whether, given the costs of data collections, there is information currently collected by federal statistical agencies that goes beyond what is mandated or widely used. As an “outsider” (an academic), he said he can afford to raise difficult questions, but his question tied in with Abraham’s point about addressing priorities and determining collectively which measures are crucial.
Edward Sondik (National Center for Health Statistics) also sees as valua-