we examined: National Center for Health Statistics ($86 million budget; 528 staff; ratio of $163,000 per staff member); Bureau of Justice Statistics ($31 million budget; 65 staff; $477,000 per staff member); Bureau of Economic Analysis ($48 million budget; 520 staff; ratio of $92,000 per staff member); and Bureau of Labor Statistics ($399 million budget; 2,642 staff; ratio of $151,000 per staff member.)
The only way in which NCES could begin to comply with the added expectations for education that have evolved over the last decade is through the creative construction of the Education Statistics Services Institute and by relying heavily on outside contract vendors. As a consequence, NCES personnel have been converted from statisticians and researchers into contract managers. Even so, their capacity to oversee the ever-enlarging world of education statistics accumulation, compilation, and distribution is seriously strained. Moreover, heavy reliance on outside contractors, while not necessarily detrimental to the quality of data collected, does detract from the agency's ability to develop in-house talent and expertise that can be helpful in analyzing data and using findings from current surveys to help plan future activities (see remarks by the executive director of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, reported in Rothman, 1992). It will not be possible the for nation to undertake the data collection efforts required to address important questions of education equity, adequacy, and productivity unless NCES is accorded the necessary budget and professional staff.
Herrington, C. 1996. The politics of school-level finance data and state policy making. Pp. 236–252 in Where Does the Money Go? Resource Allocation in Elementary and Secondary Schools, L.O. Picus and J.L. Wattenbarger, eds. Sixteenth Annual Yearbook of the American Education Finance Association, 1995. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Office of Management and Budget 1998. Statistical Programs of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 1999. Washington, DC: Office of Management and Budget.
Rothman, R. 1992. Desire for better picture of schools ups NCES's standing. Education Week (September 23) [Online]. Available: http://www.edweek.org [1999, April 26 ].