When possible and appropriate, federal statistical agencies should collaborate not only with each other, but also with state and local statistical agencies in providing data for subnational areas. Federal statistical agencies should also collaborate with foreign and international statistical agencies to exchange information on both data and methods and to develop appropriate common classifications and procedures to promote international comparability of information.
Such collaborative activities as integrating data compiled by different statistical agencies, standardizing concepts and measures, sharing data among agencies, and identifying ways to reduce unneeded duplication invariably require effort to overcome differences in agency missions and operations. Yet with constrained budgets and increasing demand for more relevant, accurate, and timely statistical information, the importance of proactive collaboration and coordination among statistical agencies cannot be overstated. To achieve the most effective integration of their work for the public good, agencies must be willing to take a long view and to strive to accommodate other agencies.
The rewards can be data that are more efficiently obtained and more relevant to policy concerns. Another reward can be a stronger, more effective statistical system as a whole. To achieve these rewards, statistical agencies need to act as partners, not only in the development of statistical information for public use, but also for the entire panoply of statistical activities, including the definition and updating of concepts and classifications and the continual improvement of measurement methods, analytical tools, means for confidentiality protection, and modes of data dissemination. Statistical agencies, working with OMB, also need to be continually vigilant to refine, disseminate, and inculcate the highest standards of professional practice and policies in such areas as privacy and confidentiality protection, data release schedules, and scientific integrity—standards that are critical for credibility with the providers and users of their information.