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How the Data are Collected: 2012

The Census of Governments is conducted in years ending in '2' and '7'.

Each topic area has its own data collection procedures:


Government Organization (lists and structure of governments)

Conducting legal research to determine whether an organization should be classified as a government, and confirming the continued existence of governments, their administrative structure, and their activities; ultimately, counting the number of governments by type of government.


Government Employment and Payroll

Obtaining the number of people employed by governments, by full-time and part-time status, and the payroll amounts.


Government Finance

Obtaining detailed information about the revenues, expenditures, debts, and assets of governments. Financial information is collected from multiple sources:



Standard categories of governmental activities, and their usefulness

The Census Bureau classifies the activities of governments into standard categories (such as property taxes, sales taxes, fire protection, highway expenditures, education expenditures, long-term and short-term debt, investments of employee-retirement systems' or workers' compensation systems).

Those categories ensure that data users can analyze similar types of activities, even though states and local governments differ among each other in how they record those activities in their legislation and in their accounting systems.

Details: Government Finance & Employment Classification Manual


Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census of Governments | 1(800) 242-2184| govs.cms.inquiry@census.gov |  Last Revised: May 16, 2013