This proposal recommends that BLS continue to look at sources of administrative data for benchmarking and microlevel use. Mathiowetz/Olson/Kennedy discuss a number of existing data sources, including three federal surveys that might be used to benchmark CE data. The authors also discuss nonfederal sources of data but do not incorporate a specific recommendation for their use into the current proposal. They state that they “were initially optimistic about micro-level integration of non-federal administrative data sources with CE data. However, the current state of knowledge about these 16 sources and the incredible task involved in turning administrative records from private companies into survey data for all sampled persons makes us cautious in recommending their use for purposes other than nonresponse monitoring and benchmarks” (Mathiowetz, Olson, and Kennedy, 2011b, p. 16).

Summary of the Two Proposals

While the panel does not recommend implementing either of these two designs wholesale, the designs embody important insights that became central to its deliberations, and aspects of each design are incorporated into one or all of the panel’s three proposed designs presented in Chapter 6. Both proposals place renewed emphasis on the use of survey personnel to provide help, consultation, and monitoring of respondents’ efforts, and the panel’s thinking was clearly inspired by this model.

The most notable adoption from the Mathiowetz/Olson/Kennedy proposal is a focus on supported self-administration and the use of a tablet data collection interface. These concepts are a central feature in all three of the panel’s prototypes described in Chapter 6. One prototype, Design A, Detailed Expenditures Through Self-Administration, follows much of the Mathiowetz/Olson/Kennedy proposal, as does the diary component of Design C, Dividing Tasks Among Multiple Integrated Samples. The panel’s proposed designs were inspired, in different ways, by the Westat proposal’s strong focus on encouraging the use of records. Design C, Dividing Tasks Among Multiple Integrated Samples follows the Westat design that encourages respondents to keep receipts and record expenditures throughout the quarter prior to a visit by the field representative. The Westat data repository proposal was viewed as desirable in the future but less practical in the nearer term.

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