This appendix begins with an overview of the U.S. statistical system as a whole, including structure and budget. It then brieﬂy summarizes the statistical functions of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the principal statistical agencies and other recognized statistical units, and a selection of major statistical programs housed or sponsored by other agencies.
The United States has a highly decentralized statistical system in contrast with other developed countries (see Norwood, 1995). Essentially, the system grew by adding separate agencies whenever the need for objective empirical information on a particular aspect of the economy, society, or environment came to the fore (see “Brief History of the U.S. Federal Statistical System” in Part I). Periodic recommendations from presidential commissions and other initiatives to consolidate one or more of the principal statistical agencies have never been adopted.
The 13 principal statistical agencies, which sit on the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy (ICSP), are: the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA); Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS); Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS); Census Bureau; Economic Research Service
(ERS); Energy Information Administration (EIA); National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS); National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS); National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES); Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (ORES); and Statistics of Income Division (SOI).1
At the center of the federal statistical system is the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which includes the Statistical and Science Policy (SSP) Office headed by the chief statistician, a senior executive civil service position. OIRA also includes clearance officers who review individual survey and other information collection requests from most agencies: SSP staff clear information requests from many of the principal statistical agencies and consult with the OIRA desk officers for the other agencies. SSP staff also consult with other parts of OMB that are responsible for recommending budgets for statistical agencies.
The chief statistician chairs the ICSP, whose 14 member agencies are in 10 cabinet departments and 2 independent agencies. In addition to the ICSP members, there are about 115 other executive branch agencies that conduct substantial statistical activities defined by SSP as $500,000 or more in annual spending (see Figure I.1 in Part I; see also U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2017:Table 1).
There are some important federal agencies that have statistical activities that are not included in the OMB annual compilation because they are not part of the executive branch. These agencies include the Congressional Budget Office, which develops and applies projection models for the budgetary impact of current and proposed federal programs; the Federal Reserve Board, which compiles the widely used Flow of Funds report and other statistical series and periodically conducts the Survey of Consumer Finances (see “Other Recognized Statistical Units,” below); and the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which uses statistical data in evaluations of government programs.
For fiscal 2016, OMB estimated the government provided $7.2 billion in direct funding for federal statistical activities of $500,000 or more, in 128 agencies (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2017:Table 1). “Statistical activities” are defined by U.S. Office of Management and Budget (2017:3)
1 The chief statistician of the United States, who chairs the ICSP, added the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics (NCVAS) as a rotating member of the ICSP in January 2017, under the authority of the 1995 Paperwork Reduction Act (see Appendix A). NCVAS replaced the Office of Environmental Information (OEI), which had been the rotating member for many years. Neither of these two agencies is a principal statistical agency or a recognized statistical unit as defined below; they are described in “Other Statistical Programs” below.
to include a wide variety of functions, including not only survey and census design, data collection, and dissemination, but also data analysis, forecasting, and modeling. The total, which includes $0.8 billion in direct funding for the 2020 decennial census, covers programs carried out by the 13 designated principal statistical agencies and 115 other policy, research, and programmatic agencies.2
“Direct funding” covers congressional appropriations to an agency. Some agencies (e.g., the Census Bureau) carry out statistical activities for other agencies on a cost-reimbursable basis. The funding for these activities is allocated to the sponsoring agency and not to the data collection agency. OMB’s annual compilation of statistical programs generally includes the entire budget for each of the 13 principal agencies; other agencies determine which parts of their budgets should be included according to the OMB definition of statistical activities.
In fiscal 2016, the 13 principal agencies accounted for 38 percent of the total budget authority for statistical activities, excluding the 2020 census; with the 2020 census authority included, they accounted for 43 percent.
Not all of the work of the principal agencies is carried out in-house. For fiscal 2017, OMB estimated that 43 percent of the total budget authority of the 13 agencies (including the decennial census) would be used to purchase statistical services from other organizations (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2017:Table 2). These purchases would include reimbursing state and local governments for administrative records (e.g., birth and death records provided to the National Center for Health Statistics and unemployment insurance establishment data provided to the Bureau of Labor Statistics); reimbursing private organizations for systems development, data collection, and data analysis services; and reimbursing other federal agencies, principally the Census Bureau, for data collection and other services.
In dollar terms, the Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Center for Health Statistics planned to allocate the largest amounts of their fiscal 2017 budgets to purchasing statistical services; by percentage of budget authority, the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics planned to be the largest users of purchased services. These patterns have remained roughly constant over the past decade (see U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2001:Table 3).
2 In the total number of policy, research, and program agencies, every institute or center of the National Institutes of Health is treated as a separate agency.
The 1995 reauthorization of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 and other legislation give OIRA the authority to approve all agency information collection requests, including all survey and other statistical information requests. OIRA also reviews all proposed economically significant federal regulations (those estimated to have greater than $100 million impact on the economy).
SSP, the chief statistician’s office, establishes statistical policies and standards, identifies priorities for improving programs, evaluates statistical programs for compliance with OMB guidance, reviews statistical agency budgets, approves information collections for many of the principal statistical agencies, provides guidance to OIRA desk officers who review statistical information requests from other federal agencies, and coordinates U.S. participation in international statistical activities.3 It currently has a staff of five professionals, who focus on statistical issues, typically augmented by 2–3 professional staff on short-term details to OMB from a statistical agency.
As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act, SSP annually issues Statistical Programs of the United States Government (the “blue book”; see U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2017). It also prepares a chapter each year in the Analytical Perspectives volume of the President’s budget, which provides a cross-cutting analysis of the budget requests for the principal statistical agencies (see “Strengthening Federal Statistics” in U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2016). SSP also sponsors the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology and other interagency collaborations, such as the Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics and the Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (see Practice 13).
Appendix A provides background information on the Paperwork Reduction Act, statistical policy directives issued by the chief statistician’s office, and other legislation and OMB documents that affect the U.S. statistical system.
This section covers the 13 principal statistical agencies identified by OMB;4 they are all members of the ICSP. The information includes origins, authorizing legislation or other authority, status of agency head (presidential appointee, career senior executive service official), and budget and full-time permanent staffing levels in 2016 (it is drawn largely from agency websites;
3 See https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/omb/inforeg_statpolicy [April 2017].
4 See https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/omb/inforeg_statpolicy/bb-principal-statistical-agencies-recognized-units [April 2017]. OMB defines these agencies as having “statistical work as their primary mission.”
see also U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2017:Tables 1 and 2). The agencies are discussed in alphabetical order.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA; see https://bea.gov/) is part of the Economics and Statistics Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce (as is the Census Bureau), headed by the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs. The BEA director is a career senior executive service appointee, and the agency has a full-time staff of about 499 people and had direct funding in fiscal 2016 of $105.1 million.
BEA’s history traces back to 1820 when the Secretary of the Treasury was directed by Congress to compile and publish statistics on U.S. foreign commerce. Three 20th-century predecessors of BEA were all located in the Department of Commerce: the Bureau of Statistics (1903–1912); the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce (1912–1945); and the Office of Business Economics (1945–1972).
BEA produces statistics on the performance of the nation’s economy. Although it collects some source data, it primarily compiles data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other agencies as input to estimating the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs), which include estimates of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and related measures. GDP, which was recognized by the Department of Commerce as its greatest achievement of the 20th century in a December 2009 ceremony, has major inﬂuence on U.S. financial markets.
Since the NIPAs were first developed in the aftermath of the Great Depression, BEA has extended its estimates to cover a wide range of economic activities for the nation, regions, and industries and also for the nation’s position in the world economy. BEA also produces “satellite accounts” in such areas as health care, travel and tourism, and arts and culture production. Satellite accounts provide a framework for testing alternative economic assumptions without disruption to BEA’s core economic accounts.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS; see http://www.bjs.gov/), in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), was formally established by the Justice Systems Improvement Act of 1979 (P.L. 96-157). It inherited statistical functions that had previously been vested in an office of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (which had been established in 1968).
BJS is housed in the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), which also contains the National Institute of Justice (a research agency) and
other agencies that are primarily focused on providing grant and technical assistance to state and local governments and law enforcement agencies. BJS’s director is a presidential appointee (not requiring Senate confirmation—a change as of August 2012) and reports to the assistant attorney general for OJP. BJS has a full-time staff of about 54 and had direct funding in fiscal 2016 of $50.2 million.
The centerpiece of BJS’s data collections is the National Crime Victimization Survey (originally the National Crime Survey), which has served as one of the nation’s principal measures of crime (particularly crime not reported to police) since its full-scale implementation in 1972. Data collection for most BJS surveys is conducted by the Census Bureau or private contractors, and BJS estimated that 59 percent of its anticipated fiscal 2017 budget authority would be spent on purchased services (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2017:Table 2).
BJS publishes annual statistics on criminal victimization, populations under correctional supervision, law enforcement management and administration, case processing in the state and federal courts, and sexual violence in prisons under the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act. Its periodic data series cover the administration of law enforcement agencies and correctional facilities, prosecutorial practices and policies, state court case processing, felony convictions, criminal justice expenditure and employment, civil case processing in state courts, and special studies on other criminal justice topics.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS; https://www.bls.gov/) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor. It is responsible for the production of some of the nation’s most sensitive and important economic data, including unemployment statistics and consumer and producer price indexes, which are closely watched by the public, Congress, other federal agencies, state and local governments, businesses, and labor organizations. The BLS commissioner is a presidential appointee, subject to Senate confirmation, and serves for a fixed term of 4 years. BLS has a full-time staff of about 2,148 people and had direct funding in fiscal 2016 of $609 million.
The history of the BLS dates back to 1884, when the Bureau of Labor was established in the Interior Department to collect information about employment and labor. It was made an independent (subcabinet) agency by the Department of Labor Act in 1888; it was made part of the Department of Commerce and Labor (as the Bureau of Labor) in 1903, and it was transferred to the newly created Department of Labor in 1913.
BLS programs use a variety of data collection methods and sources. Certain wage, benefit, employment, and price data are collected by BLS staff
in offices throughout the country, who contact employers, households, and businesses directly. BLS also has contractual arrangements with various state agencies to collect much of the data it publishes on employment and workplace safety and health. Its contractual arrangements with the Census Bureau support collection of data for several programs, including the Current Population Survey (the source of monthly unemployment statistics) and the Consumer Expenditure Survey (the source of the market baskets for the Consumer Price Index [CPI]). Some BLS data, such as those for the various national longitudinal surveys, are collected by private contractors. Finally, certain BLS data, such as information on work stoppages, come from secondary sources.
BLS’s surveys, indexes, and statistics fall into four main categories:
- consumer expenditures and prices, including the CPI, the producer price index, and U.S. import and export prices indexes;
- the labor force, including monthly data on employment from households and business establishments, monthly and periodic data on unemployment, time use, job openings and labor turnover, occupational employment and projections of trends, and longitudinal data on the work experience of cohorts of the population;
- compensation and working conditions, including the employment cost index, workplace injuries and fatalities, employee benefits, and occupational requirements; and
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS; https://www.bts.gov/) is under the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Research and Technology (OST-R) in the U.S. Department of Transportation. OST-R also includes the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office; the Office of Research, Development, and Technology; the Transportation Safety Institute; and the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.
BTS’s director is a career senior executive service appointee who reports to the assistant secretary. Prior to 2004, the director was a presidential appointee with a fixed term of 4 years who reported directly to the secretary of the department. BTS has a full-time staff of about 84 and had direct funding of $26 million in fiscal 2016.
BTS was established by the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act and began operations in late 1992. It was moved to the newly created Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) by the Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act of
2004. BTS moved with the rest of RITA to OST-R in 2014. The 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (P.L. 114-94) authorized the reorganization of BTS and strengthened its ability to produce statistical products free of political inﬂuence.
In regard to independence, Section 6017 of the FAST Act specified that the BTS director did not need the approval of the department for data collection or analysis or for the substance of any statistical data product or press release. The act charged the BTS director with a “significant role” in allocation of the BTS budget, hiring, and grant and contract awards, with the exception that the secretary was to direct external support functions, such as coordination of activities involving BTS and other departmental administrations. Finally, the act charged the departmental chief information officer to consult with the BTS director to ensure that information technology decisions protected the confidentiality of BTS statistical information in accordance with the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA).
Prior to the establishment of BTS, statistical programs of the Department of Transportation focused exclusively on specific modes of transportation (highways, airlines, railroads, etc.). the exception was the first 10 years of the department’s existence (1967–1977), when the Office of the Secretary funded intermodal surveys on commodity ﬂows and long-distance personal transportation. BTS is charged to produce an annual report on transportation statistics, develop intermodal data on commodity and passenger ﬂows, administer the National Transportation Library, and carry out other functions to ensure that the department, the states, and other federal agencies have available comprehensive information on the nation’s transportation systems. BTS also operates the Office of Airline Information, which was transferred to it from the now-defunct Civil Aeronautics Board in 1995. The 2015 FAST Act added a new Port Performance Freight Statistics Program to BTS’s portfolio. BTS contracts with the Census Bureau for major surveys.
The Census Bureau (see http://www.census.gov/) is part of the Economics and Statistics Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce (as is BEA), headed by the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs. It conducts population and economic censuses and a wide array of surveys.
The first censuses were conducted by U.S. marshals under the authority of the Secretary of State. Beginning in 1850, a separate census office was established each decade to supervise the census. In 1902 a permanent Census Bureau was established; it was made part of the new Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903, and it moved to the newly created Department
of Commerce in 1913. Title 13 of the U.S. Code includes the major legal provisions related to the Census Bureau, including strict provisions for protecting the confidentiality of population and business information.
The director of the Census Bureau is appointed by the President with Senate confirmation for a fixed 5-year term that can be renewed once (to begin in years ending in 2 and 7).5 The bureau has about 6,240 full-time staff and had direct funding in fiscal 2016 of $1,368.4 million, which included $829.8 million for the upcoming 2020 census.
The major periodic activity of the Census Bureau is the decennial population census, which in 2010 consisted of basic questions on age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, relationship to household head, and housing tenure (own, rent). The Census Bureau, under the decennial program, also conducts the continuous American Community Survey, which includes questions previously part of a long-form sample in the decennial census. Other population data products of the Census Bureau include annual population and housing estimates (developed in cooperation with state and local governments), estimates of poverty, median income, and health insurance coverage using statistical models for small areas, and geographic products based on the Bureau’s Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) system.
The Census Bureau also has a large portfolio of censuses and surveys about businesses, nonprofit organizations, and federal, state, and local governments. In addition, it carries out reimbursable work for other agencies, primarily for the conduct of surveys, which include the Current Population Survey (for BLS), the American Housing Survey (for the Department of Housing and Urban Development), the Consumer Expenditure Survey (for BLS), the National Crime Victimization Survey (for BJS), and the National Health Interview Survey (for NCHS). The Census Bureau estimated it would conduct about $337 million of reimbursable work in fiscal 2017 (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2017:Table 2).
The Economic Research Service (ERS; http://www.ers.usda.gov/), along with the National Agricultural Statistics Service and two other agencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), reports to the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. The administrator of ERS is a career senior executive service appointee; the agency has a full-time staff of about 345 and had direct funding of $85.4 million in fiscal 2016.
The origins of ERS trace back to 1905, when USDA established the Office of Farm Management, which was renamed the Office of Farm Management
5 The fixed term was signed into law in August 2012; previously, the director served at the pleasure of the President.
and Farm Economics in 1919. The office’s research areas included farm organization, cost of production, farm labor, farm finance, land economics, agricultural history, and rural life studies. Several reorganizations took place, and in 1961, USDA created ERS with responsibility for conducting economic research and policy analysis that informs program and policy decisions throughout USDA. The agency’s mission is to anticipate food, agricultural, agri-environmental, and rural development issues that are on the horizon and conduct peer-reviewed economic research so that research findings are available when issues require decisions by policy makers. As a statistical agency, ERS does not make recommendations: it designs its research to show the consequences of alternative policy or programmatic choices.
ERS is also the primary source of statistical indicators on food and agriculture, such as those that gauge the health of the farm sector (including farm income estimates and projections), assess the current and expected performance of the agricultural sector (including trade and productivity), measure food insecurity in the United States and abroad, and measure dimensions of food availability and access. ERS jointly funds two primary data collection efforts: (1) the Agricultural Resources Management Survey (ARMS) on farm household and business income and crop practices, also funded by the National Agricultural Statistics Service; and (2) the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey, which focuses on American households’ food purchase and acquisitions behavior, also funded by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA; http://www.eia.gov/) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); its administrator is a presidential appointee with Senate confirmation. EIA has a full-time staff of about 340 and had fiscal 2016 direct funding of $122 million.
EIA was created by Congress in 1977 as part of the newly established Department of Energy. Its mission is to provide policy-independent energy data, forecasts, and analyses in order to promote sound policy making, efficient markets, and public understanding regarding energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. To assure EIA’s independence, the Department of Energy Organization Act specifies that EIA’s products are not subject to clearance by executive branch officials: in particular, the administrator does not need to obtain the approval of any other DOE official for data collection and analysis, and he or she does not need to “obtain the approval of any other officer or employee of the United States” before publishing energy data and analysis reports (42 USC 7135(d)).
Many EIA data products, such as weekly, monthly, and annual data on petroleum and natural gas supply, deal with specific industries; others contain data on all fuel types. EIA’s mandatory energy supply surveys are conducted by private contractors, who survey energy producers, users, and transporters, and certain other businesses. Data on energy consumption are collected for households, commercial buildings, manufacturing, and transportation. Analyses prepared by EIA staff cover energy economics, technology, production, prices, distribution, storage, consumption, and environmental effects.
EIA forecasts cover all energy types and include supply, consumption, prices, and other factors. Short-term forecasts cover 1–2 years; 20-year projections are also developed and often serve as the baseline for independent analyses of policy proposals that are prepared by EIA at the request of Congress or the administration. More than three-quarters of EIA’s resources are used for energy data collection and dissemination; the rest is used to support forward-looking forecasts, projections, and analyses.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS; see https://www.nass.usda.gov/) is under the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics in USDA (as is ERS). The administrator of NASS is a career senior executive service appointee. NASS has about 1,038 full-time staff and had direct funding of $168.4 million in fiscal 2016.
The foundation of NASS began with the establishment of USDA in 1862. Agricultural supply information was one of the purposes of the new department. The first official report on the condition of crops was issued in July 1863. NASS’s mission of providing timely, accurate, and useful statistics continues today through its agriculture estimates and census of agriculture programs. In its agricultural estimates program, NASS provides the USDA forecasts and estimates for numerous commodities. The census of agriculture is conducted every 5 years and provides comprehensive information about the nation’s agriculture down to the county level, which provides a foundation for farm policy among its many uses.
Slightly more than one-third of the agency’s staff is located at its Washington, DC, headquarters; the rest of the staff is located at the National Operations Center near St. Louis, Missouri, and in 12 regional offices, each of which is responsible for the statistical work in several states. All field and telephone interviewing staff are obtained through contracting with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). NASS researchers also collaborate with researchers, largely from land-grant universities and the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, to improve
statistical methodologies and practices of both the agricultural estimates and the census of agriculture programs.
NASS provides data services for many agencies inside and outside USDA. It collaborates with state departments of agriculture and land-grant universities to meet state, local, and national needs for agricultural statistics. Through cooperative agreements going back as far as 1917 and memoranda of understanding, NASS provides data collection and statistical services to other federal agencies, and it provides statistics to the public through trust fund agreements with private producer organizations when federal funding is inadequate.
NASS works with its regional field offices to carry out hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. Examples include production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm finances, chemical use, and changes in the demographic characteristics of U.S. producers.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES; http://nces.ed.gov/) is part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education; IES also includes three research and evaluation centers. The NCES commissioner is a presidential appointee for a fixed term of 6 years (not requiring Senate confirmation—a change as of August 2012). It has a full-time staff of about 93 people, and its direct funding was $332.6 million in fiscal 2016.
NCES’s origins date back to 1867 when Congress established a Department of Education and gave it a primary mission of “collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing such information respecting the organization and management of schools and school systems and methods of teaching” (P.L. 39-73, 14 Stat. 434). The legislation also charged the department’s commissioner to issue an annual report. However, only 2 years later the department was abolished, and an Office of Education was established in the U.S. Department of the Interior, where it remained through 1939. The Office of Education was part of the newly created Federal Security Agency from 1939 to 1953, when it was made part of the newly created U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. A separate Department of Education was reestablished in 1980.
A major function of the Office of Education throughout its history was the collection and publication of education statistics. NCES was established in 1965 as a staff office reporting to the Commissioner of Education. NCES received statutory authority in 1974; in 1980 it was made part of the
Office of Educational Research and Improvement, which in 2002 became the IES. Supporting the independence of NCES, the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, which created IES, stipulated that “each Commissioner [head of one of IES’s constituent centers], except the Commissioner for Education Statistics, shall carry out such Commissioner’s duties . . . under the supervision and subject to the approval of the Director” of IES (20 USC 9517(d)).
NCES has an extensive survey program, including longitudinal surveys that follow the educational experience of cohorts of the U.S. population from early childhood through adulthood, periodic surveys of adult literacy, and international studies of educational achievement. It also collects the “Common Core of Data” from administrative records of state and local K–12 educational agencies, and it collects data for the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. It regularly assesses the educational knowledge and achievement of primary and secondary school students in the National Assessment of Educational Progress. It also administers the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems program, which provides grants to the states to develop longitudinal databases of student records for analyzing student performance and for identifying methods to improve achievement.
NCES contracts for a substantial portion of its work, including not only data collection, but also data analysis and preparation of reports. For fiscal 2017 (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2017:Table 2), 92 percent of its planned budget authority was to be spent on data and analysis from state agencies, the Census Bureau, and private contractors.
The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS; https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/index.htm) is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The NCHS director is a career senior executive service appointee. It has a full-time staff of about 508 people and had direct funding of $160.4 million in fiscal 2016.
NCHS’s roots lie in two formerly separate historical strands for the provision of national health statistics. The first strand is vital statistics on births, deaths, and other life events, which traces back to 1902, when Congress gave the newly created permanent Census Bureau the authority to establish registration areas to produce nationally comparable vital statistics by working with state agencies. This function was transferred in 1946 to the Federal Security Administration, which was folded into the new U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1953, which subsequently was split into two federal departments. The second strand is general
statistics on the nation’s health, which were authorized in the 1956 National Health Survey Act.
NCHS was created in 1960 as the merger of the National Office of Vital Statistics and the National Health Survey Division; it was relocated every few years in DHHS until its last relocation in 1987, when it was made part of CDC. In 2005 it became one of three centers reporting to the newly created Coordinating Center for Health Information and Service in CDC. In 2013, further administrative reorganization placed NCHS within the new CDC Office of Public Health Scientific Services (78 Federal Register 70049, November 22, 2013).
NCHS has four major programs:
- The National Health Interview Survey, in continuous operation since 1956, collects a wide range of information on self-reported health status and conditions and use of health care services by the population.
- Several surveys collect information from health care providers, including nursing homes, hospitals, and outpatient facilities.
- The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey ascertains self-reported information on health and dietary intake and also, by use of mobile examining units, obtains extensive information from physical examinations and laboratory tests.
- The nation’s basic vital statistics are collected and maintained.
For fiscal 2017 (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2017:Table 2), 85 percent of NCHS’s estimated budget authority would be used to purchase data collection and reporting services from state and local governments, the Census Bureau, and private contractors.
The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES; https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/) is part of the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Its director is a career senior executive service appointee. It has a full-time staff of about 50 people and had direct funding in fiscal 2016 of $58.2 million.
NCSES was formerly the Division of Science Resources Statistics and before that the Division of Science Resources Studies. It became NCSES with passage of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (Section 505; 42 USC 1862), with an expanded mandate to serve as a “central Federal clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, analysis, and dissemination of objective data on science, engineering, technology, and research and development.”
NCSES’s history began in 1950, when the newly created NSF was charged to maintain a register of scientific and technical personnel so that the nation would be able to mobilize the scientific and technical work force in the event of a major war. Although no longer required to maintain a complete register, NSF has continued (by the terms of its founding act, as amended) to have responsibility “to provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, and analysis of data on scientific and engineering resources and to provide a source of information for policy formulation by other agencies of the Federal Government” (42 USC 1862). NSF also has a congressional mandate from 1980 to provide information on women and minorities in science and engineering.
The NSF mandates provide the basis for statistical programs in NCSES. The center is called on to support the collection of statistical data on research and development trends, the science and engineering workforce, U.S. competitiveness, and the condition and progress of the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; to support research using the data it collects and on methodologies in areas related to its work; and to support the education and training of researchers in the use of its own and other large-scale, nationally representative data sets. NCSES designs, supports, and directs a coordinated collection of periodic national surveys and performs a variety of other data collections and research, providing policymakers, researchers, and other decision makers with high quality data and analysis on research and development, innovation, the education of scientists and engineers, and the science and engineering workforce. To support its programs, 66 percent of NCSES’s estimated budget authority in fiscal 2017 (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2017:Table 2) would be used to purchase data collection and other services from the Census Bureau and private contractors. NCSES also serves as staff to the National Science Board in producing the biennial congressionally mandated Science and Engineering Indicators Report, which uses data from all NCSES surveys.
The Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (ORES; https://www.ssa.gov/policy/index.html) is located in the Social Security Administration (SSA). ORES reports to the SSA Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy. ORES is headed by an associate commissioner, who is a career senior executive service appointee; it has a full-time staff of about 66 people and had direct funding of $23.4 million in fiscal 2016.
SSA began as the Social Security Board in 1935; it became part of the Federal Security Agency in 1939, part of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1953, and part of DHHS in 1980; it regained
independent agency status in 1995. From the outset, SSA has had a research, statistics, and evaluation function.
ORES produces numerous recurring statistical publications about the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, such as the Annual Statistical Supplement. ORES also produces statistical publications about earnings and employment and other topics related to Social Security, such as the Income of the Population 55 or Older and the Income of the Aged Chartbook.
ORES conducts and sponsors research and evaluation on the effects of the Social Security and SSI programs and proposed changes in those programs on individuals, the economy, and program solvency. It develops and operates microsimulation models to assess the distributional effects of proposed reforms to the Social Security and SSI programs. ORES also conducts comparative analyses of social insurance systems in other countries. The research generated by ORES often is published in its in-house journal, the Social Security Bulletin. In addition, ORES funds two external research networks through cooperative agreements, the Retirement Research Consortium (RRC) and the Disability Research Consortium (DRC).6 The RRC and DRC promote research on a wide range of topics related to Social Security retirement and disability policy at universities and think tanks.
Finally, ORES performs a significant data infrastructure function in support of policy research. ORES is responsible for working with outside research partners to create restricted use research datasets by linking survey and other external data to Social Security program data. ORES also supports epidemiologists by providing vital status data on subjects of health research.7
The Statistics of Income Division (SOI; see https://www.irs.gov/uac/tax-stats) is housed in the Office of Research, Analysis, and Statistics of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The director is a career senior executive service appointee. SOI has a full-time staff of approximately 117 employees and had direct funding of $36.9 million in fiscal 2016.
SOI’s history traces back to the enactment of authority to levy individual income taxes in the 16th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified in 1913. Section 21 of the Revenue Act of 1916 mandated the annual “publication of statistics reasonably available with respect to the operation
7 See https://www.ssa.gov/policy/about/epidemiology.html [April 2017].
of the Income tax law” (39 Stat. 776); identical language is found in the current Internal Revenue Code (see 26 USC 6108).
SOI provides income, financial, and tax information data products to the user community that are based largely on individual and corporate tax returns and on returns filed by most tax-exempt organizations. It also provides periodic data derived from other returns and schedules, such as estate and gift taxes, foreign income and taxes, and gains and losses from sales of capital assets.
On written request, SOI tax return data are available to staff in the Department of the Treasury and the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation for policy analysis and revenue estimation. SOI data are also available to the Congressional Budget Office for modeling Social Security and Medicare programs, but not for any other purpose. Selected tax return data are also available, under strict confidentiality protection provisions, for use by the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service: the purposes of this access are for structuring censuses and national economic accounts and conducting related statistical activities authorized by law. (See discussion of the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 in Appendix A.)
Implementation guidance issued in 2007 for the 2002 Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) (see Appendix A) recognized 12 principal statistical agencies—the 13 agencies identified as principal statistical agencies that serve on the ICSP, with the exception of the Social Security Administration Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics.8 It provided a mechanism by which other agencies or units can be recognized as statistical agencies or units for purposes of CIPSEA (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2007:33368):9
Other agencies or units that wish to be recognized as statistical agencies or units for purposes of CIPSEA must send a request to the Chief Statistician at OMB. The request must come from the head of the agency or unit and have the concurrence of the larger organization within which
8 CIPSEA adopted the designation of 12 agencies from the Order Providing for the Confidentiality of Statistical Information, issued by OMB in 1997 (see Appendix A). Why the 1997 order named 12 instead of 13 agencies is not clear.
9 In addition to the requirements for designation as a statistical unit spelled out in the quoted paragraph, Statistical Policy Directive No. 1 (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2014) applies to recognized statistical units in addition to principal statistical agencies. This directive requires a statistical agency or unit’s department to recognize the agency or unit’s independence (see Appendix A).
the agency or unit resides. This request should include a statement of the organizational definition of the agency or unit, its mission, statistical activities, and any nonstatistical activities, and demonstrate that its activities are predominantly statistical. Statistical activities include the collection, compilation, processing, or analysis of information for the purpose of describing the characteristics of groups or making estimates concerning the whole or relevant groups, or components within, the economy, society, or the natural environment. Statistical activities also include the development of methods or resources that support these activities, such as measurement methods, models, statistical classifications, or sampling frames.
CIPSEA-recognized statistical agencies and units may bring data collection contractors and researchers under the CIPSEA umbrella by swearing them in as special agents. Such agents may have access to confidential data of the agency or unit for specified purposes (e.g., to conduct a survey for the agency or analyze data from a survey in a secure environment). To date, CIPSEA has recognized four statistical units: the Office for Research, Evaluation, and Statistics of SSA; the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Microeconomic Surveys Section of the Federal Reserve Board; and the National Animal Health Monitoring System Program Unit of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The last three units are described below.
The Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ; https://www.samhsa.gov/about-us/who-we-are/offices-centers/cbhsq) is the lead federal agency for behavioral health statistics. It is housed in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in DHHS. CBHSQ provides national leadership in behavioral health statistics and epidemiology; promotes basic and applied research in behavioral health data systems and statistical methodology; designs and carries out special data collection and analytic projects to examine issues for SAMHSA and other federal agencies; participates with other federal agencies in developing national health statistics policy; and consults and advises the SAMHSA administrator and the DHHS secretary on statistical matters.
CBHSQ conducts the continuing National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which is the nation’s primary data system for collecting information on the incidence and prevalence of substance abuse and adverse health consequences associated with drug abuse from the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States for people aged 12
and older. NSDUH (formerly called the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse) was fielded periodically from 1972 to 1990 and then annually beginning in 1991.
Other CBHSQ statistical programs include the Behavioral Health Services Information System and its associated surveys, which are the primary data sources for information on the nation’s substance abuse treatment system and outcomes; the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments, as well as drug-related deaths investigated by medical examiners and coroners; and other programs (see https://www.samhsa.gov/data/node/20).
The Microeconomic Surveys Section of the Division of Research and Statistics of the Federal Reserve Board (https://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/rsmecs-staff.htm) conducts research in a variety of areas, including consumer finances, financial markets, general applied microeconomics, survey methodology, and other statistical methodology. The section has responsibilities for a number of the surveys conducted by the Board.
The section’s principal survey is the triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), first conducted in 1983 and most recently conducted in 2013 (see https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/scfindex.htm). The SCF ascertains detailed information on families’ balance sheets, pensions, income, and demographic characteristics from an area probability sample of households supplemented by a list sample from federal income tax records of high-income families that hold disproportionately large amounts of assets. This design enables the SCF to provide information on the distribution of family income and assets that is unmatched by any other U.S. survey. Data from the SCF are widely used, both in analyses by other agencies, most notably the Federal Reserve Board, and in scholarly work at major economic research centers. The survey has contained a panel element over two periods: respondents to the 1983 survey were reinterviewed in 1986 and 1989, and respondents to the 2007 survey were reinterviewed in 2009.
The Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture established the National Animal Health Monitoring System Program Unit (NAHMS; https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/monitoring-and-surveillance/nahms/about) in 1983 to collect, analyze, and disseminate data on animal health, management,
and productivity across the United States. The NAHMS staff conduct national studies on the health and health management of U.S. domestic livestock and poultry populations. Studies are designed to meet the information needs of the industries associated with these commodities. Each animal group is studied at regular intervals, providing up-to-date and trend information needed to monitor animal health, support trade decisions, assess research and product development needs, answer questions for consumers, and set policy.
NAHMS data on producer biosecurity practices and animal movements (such as transport distances and frequencies) for multiple animal industries have been essential in establishing parameters for the North American Animal Disease Spread Model, which simulates the spread and control of highly contagious diseases in susceptible animals. Trend data collected between 1990 and 2006 by four NAHMS swine studies documented the decline and virtual elimination of trichinae in commercial market swine and showed a corresponding decrease in the use of production practices that contribute to trichinae.
NAHMS works with NASS to randomly select operations by size that represent the targeted national livestock and poultry populations. NASS personnel contact sampled producers to complete the questionnaire. If the study includes biological sampling, animal health professionals or the producers themselves collect and ship the samples to designated veterinary diagnostic laboratories. Producers then receive results of biological sample testing.
This section brieﬂy describes eight statistical programs that are conducted or sponsored by agencies of the federal government other than the principal statistical agencies and recognized statistical units. The programs were selected purposively to illustrate the breadth and depth of the federal government’s statistical portfolio. They are in alphabetical order.
The Health and Retirement Study (HRS; see http://hrsonline.isr.umich.edu/) is a longitudinal panel survey with more than 20,000 respondents representing people ages 51 and older in the United States. It provides in-depth information on middle- and older-aged people’s transitions from the workforce to retirement, savings behavior and pension plans, physical and cognitive health, disability, family structure, health care expenditures, and many other aspects of financial, social, physical, and mental well-being.
The HRS began in 1992 and currently introduces a new cohort of people ages 51–56 every 6 years. People in the sample are interviewed in-person or by telephone every 2 years. The HRS is conducted by the University of Michigan with support from the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration.
The HRS has provided data for a wide range of path-breaking research studies, has made innovations in data collection methods, and has inspired similar efforts in many countries around the world. Similar panel surveys in other countries include the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study; the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing; the Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement; the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging; the Longitudinal Aging Study in India; the Mexican Health and Aging Study; the New Zealand Health, Work and Retirement Survey; and the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe.
The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS; http://meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/) is a statistical program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. MEPS is the core health care expenditure survey in the United States, with a primary analytical focus directed to the topics of health care access, cost, and coverage. MEPS was designed to provide data for health care policy analysis and research. It was first conducted in 1977 and again in 1987 under different names and became a continuous survey in 1996.
MEPS consists of three interrelated parts: the household component, the medical provider component, and the insurance component. The household survey collects information from household members and their health care providers and employers in order to construct a complete picture of medical care use, expenditures, and health insurance coverage and reimbursements. Households are in a MEPS panel for five rounds of interviewing that cover 2 years so that patterns of medical care and expenditures can be observed over time; a new household panel begins every year. Data for the MEPS household and medical provider surveys are collected by private contractors; the household survey sample of about 14,000 households per year is drawn from the NCHS National Health Interview Survey. The MEPS insurance component collects data each year from a sample of about 30,000 private- and public-sector employers on the health insurance plans they offer their employees. The collected data include the number and types of private insurance plans offered (if any), premiums, contributions by employers and employees, eligibility requirements, benefits associated with these plans, and employer characteristics. Data for this component of MEPS are collected by the Census Bureau.
The National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS; http://www.doleta.gov/naws/) is an activity of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. It provides data on wage and migration history, type of crops worked, unemployment benefits, housing, health care, use of public programs, and other characteristics of the U.S. crop labor force. The information, which is used by numerous federal agencies for occupational injury and health surveillance, estimating the need for services for workers, allocating program dollars to areas of greatest need, and program design and evaluation, is obtained directly from farm workers through personal interviews.
Since 1988, when the survey began, nearly 53,000 workers have been interviewed. The survey samples crop workers in three cycles each year to reﬂect the seasonality of agricultural production and employment. Workers are located at their farm job sites. During the initial contact, arrangements are made to interview the respondent at home or at another location convenient to the respondent. Depending on the information needs and resources of the various federal agencies that use NAWS data, between 1,500 and 4,000 workers are interviewed each year.
The National Automotive Sampling System (https://www.nhtsa.gov/research-data/national-automotive-sampling-system-nass) is an administrative-records–based data collection system of the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation. The system was created in 1979 as part of a nationwide effort to reduce motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths on U.S. highways. It samples accident reports of police agencies in randomly selected areas of the country.
The National Automotive Sampling System has two components, one on crashworthiness and one on general estimates. For the crashworthiness component, NCSA field researchers collect detailed information from police accident reports for selected crashes on a wide range of factors, including exterior and interior vehicle damage, occupant injury, and environmental conditions at the time of the crash. For the general estimates component, which covers a larger sample of crashes, only basic information is recorded from the police accident reports. The National Automotive Sampling System infrastructure is also used for special studies and surveys, such as the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, conducted in 2005–2007, which sampled police accident reports in real time and obtained on-scene information in addition to the information reported by the police.
The National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics (NCVAS; https://www1.va.gov/vetdata/) in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) develops descriptive, diagnostic and predictive analytics on a broad range of topics about veterans and VA programs. NCVAS collaborates with other federal agencies to survey and analyze the veteran population and represents the VA in interagency statistical, data science, and data management forums.
NCVAS sponsors the National Survey of Veterans (NSV), of which six rounds have been conducted to date, the latest in 2010. The 2010 NSV included veterans, active duty service members, demobilized National Guard and Reserve members, family members, and surviving spouses. This was the first NSV iteration to include groups other than veterans.
The National Resources Inventory (NRI; https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/technical/nra/nri/) is a statistical program of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in USDA. The current NRI is a longitudinal survey of soil, water, and related environmental resources designed to assess conditions and trends on nonfederal U.S. land parcels. NRCS has conducted the NRI in cooperation with the Iowa State University Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology since 1977.
The NRI was conducted on a 5-year cycle from 1982 to 1997; beginning in 2000 it is now conducted annually (with major data releases occurring at 5-year intervals). Before 2000, NRI data were collected every 5 years for 800,000 sample sites; annual NRI data collection covers slightly less than 200,000 sample sites. Year-by-year data on conditions for the same sites enable analysis of the effects of resource conservation programs and other applications.
The Office of Environmental Information (OEI; https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-office-environmental-information-oei) in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is headed by the chief information officer, who reports to the EPA administrator. OEI manages the life cycle of information to support EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment. It works to ensure the quality of EPA’s information and the efficiency and reliability of EPA’s technology, data collection and exchange efforts, and access services. It provides technology services and manages EPA’s IT investments. OEI operates the Environmental Dataset Gateway (EDG),
which is a web-based metadata (data about data) portal that supports the discovery of and access to EPA’s environmental dataset resources. The EDG contains metadata records contributed by EPA offices and links to geospatial and non-geospatial resources (e.g., data, services, or applications) described by those metadata records. Unrestricted information that is contributed to the EDG is shared with interagency data sharing portals, including data.gov and geo.data.gov. Examples of datasets in the EDG are state listings of impaired water sources and fish consumption advisories.
The Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID; http://simba.isr.umich.edu/data/data.aspx) is a longitudinal survey that has followed several thousand families since 1968. It is conducted by the Survey Research Center of the Institute for Social Research of the University of Michigan with funding from a consortium of federal agencies.
The PSID emphasizes the dynamic aspects of economic and demographic behavior, but its content is broad, including sociological and psychological measures. From 1968 to 1996, the PSID interviewed individuals in the original sample of about 4,800 families every year, whether or not they were living in the same dwelling or with the same people. In 1997 interviewing was changed to every other year, the original sample was reduced, and a sample of Hispanic families that had been added in 1990 was replaced by a sample of post-1968 immigrant families of all ethnic groups and their adult children. The current sample of families, including those formed by children leaving their parental homes, is about 8,700.
Since 1968, more than 3,000 journal articles, books and book chapters, government reports, working papers, and dissertations have been based on the PSID. The PSID was founded to study poverty and the effects of programs to combat poverty. As the survey has added content and extended its period of observation, the data have also contributed importantly to studies of intergenerational patterns of work, welfare receipt, and other behaviors; international comparisons with panel data from other countries; neighborhood effects on family well-being (using data files augmented with census-based characteristics of sample members’ communities); and long-term trends in marital and fertility histories and living arrangements.
REFERENCES FOR APPENDIX B
All URL addresses valid as of April 2017. Please note that, as of February 2017, U.S. Office of Management and Budget documents previously on the main whitehouse.gov site were relocated to an archived site. Wherever possible, a citation is provided to a stable site such as federalregister.gov.
Norwood, J. L. (1995). Organizing to Count: Change in the Federal Statistical System. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.
U.S. Office of Management and Budget (2001). Statistical Programs of the United States Government: Fiscal Year 2002. Statistical and Science Policy Office, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/omb/inforeg/02statprog.pdf.
U.S. Office of Management and Budget (2007). Implementation guidance for Title V of the E-Government Act, Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (CIPSEA). 72 Federal Register 33362 (June 15, 2007). Available: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/E7-11542.
U.S. Office of Management and Budget (2014). Statistical Policy Directive No. 1: Fundamental responsibilities of federal statistical agencies and recognized statistical units. 79 Federal Register 71609 (December 2, 2014). Available: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2014-28326.
U.S. Office of Management and Budget (2016). Analytical Perspectives, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2017. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BUDGET-2017-PER/pdf/BUDGET-2017-PER.pdf.
U.S. Office of Management and Budget (2017). Statistical Programs of the United States Government: Fiscal Year 2017. Statistical and Science Policy Office, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/information_and_regulatory_affairs/statistical-programs-2017.pdf.