must be made in researching elements of the proposed designs, to find specific procedures that are not only workable, but also most effective. These prototypes are not operationally ready—much targeted research needs to be done.

Recommendation 6-11: BLS should engage in a program of targeted research on the topics listed in this report that will inform the specific redesign of the CE.

Recommendation 6-12: BLS should fund a “methods panel” (a sample of at least 500 households) as part of the CE base, which can be used for continued testing of methods and technologies. Thus the CE would never again be in the position of maintaining a static design with evidence of decreasing quality for 40 years.

In summary, the CE performs an extremely important role in helping understand the consumption patterns of American households and more appropriately targeting critical policies and programs. The current CE design has been in place for four decades, and change is needed. The change should begin with BLS prioritizing the many uses of the CE so a new design can most efficiently and effectively target those priorities. The panel offers three prototype designs and considerable guidance in moving toward that ultimate redesign.



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