Additional Improvements Needed in the National Survey of Professional, Administrative, Technical, and Clerical Pay

FPCD-82-32: Published: Apr 5, 1982. Publicly Released: Apr 5, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the results of the National Survey of Professional, Administrative, Technical, and Clerical (PATC) Pay. This survey is made annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to collect private enterprise data for use by the President's Pay Agent in assessing and adjusting salary rates of Federal white- collar employees.

GAO found a in a previous review that changes could be made to the Survey to maintain and improve the quality of the data. Since that time, BLS has made many changes and incorporated several new approaches have been made to further improve the survey process. BLS measures and reports sampling errors which occur because only a portion of the private sector is selected for analysis, and it has recently improved its method for these measurements. Although the BLS sampling methodology meets accepted statistical methods, the impact of establishment refusals to provide data should be more fully disclosed in the published survey results. BLS makes a statistical adjustment to account for these establishments and believes the reduction in the reliability of the salary estimates is small. Nonsampling errors are all other errors that occur in the survey. To measure these variables, BLS established a quality measurement (QM) program. The program has been successful in measuring nonsampling errors that occur during data collection and has shown that published salary levels are not significantly different from the survey results. Because of budget constraints and lack of staff, BLS has suspended the QM program for the 1982 PATC survey. In structuring this program, BLS is focusing on controlling the quality of job matches using existing financial resources.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should, as long as the Professional, Administrative, Technical, and Clerical (PATC) survey is conducted, require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to establish a quality control program to measure and better control nonsampling errors that occur in job-matching and the program should be structured to: (1) identify the source and reasons for nonsampling errors, prescribe remedial actions, and evaluate the effectiveness of such actions; (2) provide prompt feedback to field representatives on the data collection performance; and (3) report program results with PATC survey results or insure that this information is subsequently reported to survey users.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to test the statistical assumption used to account for these establishments and, if the statistical assumption cannot be verifed, the opinion of the effect of these refusal on the survey salary estimates should better qualified.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

 

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