U.S. Census Bureau

Electronic Reporting

at the Census Bureau

Electronic reporting at the Census Bureau?

The Census Bureau implemented its first EDI program for the 1992 Census of Retail Trade. It developed ANSI X12 Transaction Set 152 for businesses to use in reporting government statistical information. In 1993, the Company Organization Survey and Annual Survey of Manufacturers began to offer this reporting option. Companies now can file on many Census Bureau Economic surveys using EDI. Guidelines for developing an EDI reporting program are available from the Census Bureau.

Because increasing numbers of companies in the United States are moving toward the International UN/EDIFACT standard,the Census Bureau is converting the ANSI X12 Transaction Set 152 to a UN/EDIFACT message, "RDRMES". This message should be available for use in 1996. Transaction Set 152 will continue to be a reporting option.

What is EDI?

EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange. It is the electronic transmission of business data in a standard format between business partners. The partners can be in any business relationship:customers and suppliers, banks and branches, headquarters and affiliated offices, government statistical agencies and respondents. Instead of mailing documents, partners transmit data from one computer to another, without human intervention.

Business data consist of documents in standard format. Any document presently executed on paper can be transmitted using EDI. Examples are invoices, payment, purchase orders, shipping notices, survey forms, and tax schedules. These are just a few possibilities:there are over a hundred types of business communication that have standard EDI formats.

How will EDI benefit my company?

EDI replaces paper-based reporting on Census Bureau surveys. Using EDI can improve the efficiency of reporting for companies, and of processing the data for the Census Bureau. It can eliminate data entry costs, ensure fewer data errors, reduce paper, postage, and handling costs, and reduce the cost of storing paper documents.

What equipment do I need for EDI?

Translation software is needed to convert business records into the EDI message format. Inexpensive PC-based EDI translation software is available, although some companies with programming staffs prefer to develop translation programs in-house. To transmit the data, companies also need a modem to call the Census Bureau's toll-free "800" number.

What security is provided?

Title 13 of the United States Code protects all data that businesses and individuals report to the Census Bureau. A multi-level security system protects your confidential EDI records. First, the toll-free number is provided only to businesses that have agreed to report using EDI. Second, access through the toll-free number is password protected. Third, the computer systems receiving EDI data can be contacted only for EDI transmission. Fourth, the receiving systems do not store EDI records.

How can I get more information?

Bureau of the Census
Electronic Reporting Staff
Room 3653, F.O.B #3
Washington, DC 20233-6100
Telephone: 301-457-4125
FAX: 301-457-1236
or mail at