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LaVerne Collins


Census Bureau Budget Initiatives Will More Accurately Measure U.S. Economy and Population

As part of the President's Fiscal Year 2003 budget submission to Congress, the Census Bureau released Monday the details of its innovative plans to provide more timely and accurate data about the economy and population of the United States.

"This budget request represents some of the most ambitious and innovative statistical activities that I've seen in more than 30 years of government service. If approved, it will improve the way we measure the U.S. population, economy and state and local governments," said Census Bureau Acting Director William G. Barron Jr.

Key initiatives in the Census Bureau's $737.6 million appropriations request for FY 2003 include conducting the 2002 Economic Census, improving measures of the economy's service sector, increasing the quality and timeliness of foreign trade statistics, enhancing the measurement of electronic business and re-engineering the 2010 census to make it more efficient and cost-effective.

"The President and Secretary Evans realize the importance of these indicators to our economy," said Commerce Under Secretary Kathleen B. Cooper. "The data collected and the numbers produced by the Census Bureau are important to our economic security. Accurate and timely data can help business leaders, policy-makers, indeed all Americans chart our economic course."

Program highlights:

  • Conduct the 2002 Economic Census ($91.7 million) -- Taken every five years, the economic census is the statistical benchmark for measuring the U.S. economy. It provides three-quarters of the source data for the National Accounts, and covers 96 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), in addition to establishing the base for constructing many of the principal economic indicators.
  • Improve services measures to address long-standing deficiencies in federal economic statistics ($5.5 million) 1) Establishes a new principal economic indicator of service industry activity, providing policy-makers with current information on the performance of key information, communication and technology-intensive industries, as well as other industries undergoing significant change; 2) Yield annual product data on the outputs of service industries, providing the Bureau of Economic Affairs (BEA) and the business community with much needed information on the specific products sold by fast-growing and rapidly changing service industries; and 3) Produces annual information on the cost of purchased services and materials for service industries. This information provides BEA and the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) with source data needed to dramatically improve existing measures of value added by services industries.
  • Improve the timeliness and quality of foreign trade statistics ($13 million)
    1) Accelerate the release of trade statistics by 20 days -- currently released within about 50 days of the data month -- through increased use of electronic reporting and processing of trade data;
    2) Expand and improve the export reporting system (Automated Export System) through technological advances; and
    3) Remedy the undercoverage of exports, currently ranging from 3 percent to 7 of the published export level, by keeping pace with the changes in the way that trade now takes place.
  • Improve measurement of electronic business ($5.2 million)
    1) Provide annual coverage of the entire wholesale trade sector, including manufacturers' sales offices and electronic markets. Comprehensive and timely information on all wholesale activity will provide BEA with important new source data to improve quarterly estimates of GDP;
    2) Supply BEA, FRB, other policy-makers, as well as the business community with detailed annual information on business expenditures on hardware, software and communication services that will help assess future productivity and economic growth prospects; and,
    3) Implement a first-ever supply chain survey that will document how e-business processes are shifting functions and economic activity among manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and transportation services and logistics providers.
  • Re-engineer the 2010 decennial census ($218.9 million) -- Three highly interdependent components will make the next census more efficient and accurate, which will save the resources necessary throughout the decade to fund the re-engineering plan. They are:
    1) Eliminate the 2010 census long form through the nationwide implementation of the American Community Survey, which will provide annual long form-type data for all communities;
    2) Modernize the Census Bureau's master address list and geographic databases, the cornerstones for a good census, through improvements in mapping technologies; and,
    3) Begin early planning, development and testing of a completely restructured approach to data collection for a short form-only census.

"Implementation of these core programs and others detailed in the Census Bureau's budget submission will yield significantly better and more current data, which policy-makers at all levels of government, business and the American public can use to improve their way of life well into the 21st century," Barron said.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: September 09, 2014