NEWS28 June 2018

Call to delay stats agency reorg

Data analytics News North America Public Sector

US – The market research and data analytics trade body, the Insights Association, has urged the Trump administration and Congress to delay merging the federal statistical agencies until after the 2020 census.

The White House

The White House has proposed consolidating the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis and Census Bureau.

Howard Fienberg, vice-president of advocacy for the Insights Association, commented to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for a hearing on the reorganisation plan that "timing is essential, since we are in year eight of the decennial census cycle, a constitutionally-mandated schedule that we cannot risk undermining. Certainly, any reorganisation could disrupt ongoing statistical programmes, but the impact on the 2020 census would be the most severe. It is the largest peacetime mobilisation in the US and takes a massive and coordinated effort to complete accurately and effectively."

According to the White House plan the US statistical system is composed of 13 principal statistical agencies across the federal government. Three of these agencies – the Census Bureau (Census), the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics – account for 53% of the system’s annual budget of $2.26 billion and share synergies in their collection of economic and demographic data and analysis of key national indicators.

It states that: “Reorganising these agencies under the Department of Commerce (DOC) would increase cost-effectiveness and improve data quality, while simultaneously reducing respondent burden on businesses and the public."

Fienberg said: "Insufficient funding for much of this decade, which led to the elimination of essential field testing (among other impacts), has endangered the accuracy and efficiency of the 2020 Census, and we cannot afford to distract the Census Bureau from this core constitutional mission."