State & Local Government Finances

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Data Collection: 2011

Confidentiality: The U.S. Census Bureau conducts Annual Surveys of State and Local Government Finances as authorized by Title 13, United States Code, Section 9.

Dates of Collection:The following are important dates in the data collection process:

09/2011 Initial mail-out
11/2011 Reminder Letter mailed out
01/2012 Follow-up mail out
03/2012 - 05/2012 Telephone follow-up

Methods: The data collection for the state and local finance survey is made up of three modes to obtain data: mail canvass, Internet collection, and central collection from state sources. Collection methods vary by state and type of government.

Reviews of government accounting records provide data for most state government agencies and the 48 largest and most complex county and municipal governments. Data for local governments in about 28 states are consolidated and submitted by state agencies (central collections), usually as electronic transmissions or mutually developed questionnaires. Each of these central collection arrangements is unique, conforming to the Census Bureau and the states’ requirements.

Data for the balance of local governments were obtained via mail questionnaires sent directly to county, municipal, township, and special district governments.

In some cases the data from central collections and mail canvass procedures were incomplete or questionable. If Census Bureau analysts were unable to obtain corrected data from original sources, they attempted to obtain data from Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs). In many instances, supplied/compiled data are supplemented with secondary sources, such as debt information from Mergents.

The survey combines data from several government finance surveys, including the 2011 State Government Finances, 2011 State and Local Public Employee-Retirement Systems, and the 2011 Public Elementary-Secondary Education Finances.

Note: All governments that received a mail questionnaire had the option of submitting their response via the Internet.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | State & Local Government Finances | 1 (800) 242-4523| |  Last Revised: September 20, 2013