NEWS31 May 2013

Senators warned: Don't axe Federal surveys

Government North America

US — The American research community has warned US senators not to eliminate multiple recurring federal surveys including the American Community Survey (ACS).

Republican senator Jeff Duncan has introduced the Census Reform Act, which would specifically repeal the ACS, the Economic Census, the Census of Governments as well dozens of other large and small surveys.

The Act would forbid “any survey, sampling or other questionnaire” and would only authorise “a decennial census of population”.

The congressman said that the Act was aimed at repealing the authority of government to conduct mandatory and invasive census surveys, which ask too many personal questions of constituents.

The Market Research Association (MRA) agreed that the Census Bureau should reform practices to avoid concerns about harassment as well as educate and inform respondents about the need for the surveys and the questions.

However, it added that the ACS in particular, which the association said was so crucial to ensuring the statistical validity of virtually every survey, opinion and marketing research study in the country, was the perfect test bed for such reforms.

MRA director of government affairs Howard Fienberg added: “As the ‘tip of the spear’ in the Bureau’s interaction with ordinary citizens between each decennial census, MRA argues that such efforts are imperative in the ACS.”

The MRA said that it would continue to meet congress members to explain the importance of the surveys to the research profession and to the nation at large.

“And we will let them know that ‘reform’ in this case ought to mean informed change or modernisation, not outright elimination,” said Fienberg.