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This section describes how the U.S. Census Bureau collected the State Government Finances data and how the published data were generated. Select the appropriate topic below for information on the sampling frame, collection periods, collection methods, editing, imputation, sampling error, response rates, and nonsampling error.

Population of Interest

The data cover the 50 state governments only. No local government data are included.

The state government finance data presented by the U.S. Census Bureau may differ from data published by state governments because the Census Bureau may be using a different definition of which organizations are covered under the term, "state government."

For the purpose of Census Bureau statistics, the term "state government" refers not only to the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of a given state, but it also includes agencies, institutions, commissions, and public authorities that operate separately or somewhat autonomously from the central state government but where the state government maintains administrative or fiscal control over their activities as defined by the Census Bureau.

For further information on the definition and organization of governments:

See Chapter 1 of the Government Finance and Employment Classification Manual and the 2007 Census of Governments.

Data Collection

Confidentiality: Data collected for the Annual Survey of State Government Finances are public record and are not confidential, as authorized by Title 13, United States Code, Section 9.

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

October Initial mail-out requesting source materials
January Non-response follow-up begins
September – December Completion of data compilation and editing

Methods: Most of the data in this report were gathered by a mail canvass of appropriate state government offices that are directly involved with state finances. The fifty state governments provide most of the data from central accounting systems for all or most of their agencies. Data for other state-level entities, such as state institutions, commissions, component units, public authorities, and other state-level dependent government organizations were obtained from financial records of those individual entities. U.S. Census Bureau employees compile statistics on state government indebtedness and cash and security holdings from state governments' Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) and the financial statements of their dependent entities. Supplemental information for insurance trust systems may also be collected through the F-13 form. Statistics on state government public employee retirement systems are collected and processed by the Public Employee Retirement Survey. Statistics on state government tax collections are collected by the State Government Tax Collections Survey. These data are then merged with general statistics on state government finances to provide complete statistics on state government finances that are presented here.

Data Processing

Editing: Fifty state governments provide the Census Bureau with administrative records from their central accounting system. These administrative records are unique to each state as each state is legally organized differently from every other state and as such each state has a unique organizational and accounting structure. The administrative records represent the core or central. state government and are limited to revenues and expenditures. Statistics on state government revenues and expenditures are compiled from these administrative records by Census Bureau employees. according to the Census Bureau’s classification methodology as outlined in the Government Finance and Employment Classification Manual.

Imputation: Although every effort is made to obtain financial information from all state government entities. financial statements may not be available at the time the Census Bureau closes the processing. or governmental entities may not respond to our requests. As a result we use the unadjusted prior year data for these supplemental units until a response can be obtained. As such the data are subject to revisions each year. For those items where we do not have enough detail to separate a single activity into two or more functional categories we will develop an allocation for these items based on prior years information.

Sampling Error: These data are not subject to sampling error because this is a complete enumeration of all 50 State governments.

Data Quality

Nonsampling Error: Although every effort (as described in the Data Processing section) is made in all phases of collection, processing, and tabulation to minimize errors, the survey is subject to nonsampling error such as the inability to obtain data for every variable for all units, inaccuracies in classification, mistakes in keying and coding, and coverage errors.

While the data records are ultimately from state government sources, the classification of finances among the different categories is entirely the responsibility of the Census Bureau. Therefore, classification might not reflect the actual classification or presentation as requested by the various state government respondents.

Response Distribution: The unit response rate for the Annual Survey of State Government Finances can be found in the State Government Finances Annual Methodology document for the respective year.


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