Foreign Direct Investment:

Review of Commerce Department Reports and Data-Sharing Activities

GGD-95-242: Published: Sep 29, 1995. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 1995.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Department of Commerce's first three annual reports on foreign direct investment in the United States (FDIUS) and governmental efforts to improve the quality of FDIUS data, focusing on: (1) the extent to which Commerce's reports fulfilled legislative requirements and addressed prior GAO recommendations; (2) how FDIUS data is obtained; (3) the status of data sharing between the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the Bureau of Census and between BEA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); and (4) the extent to which implementing legislation has improved public information on FDIUS.

GAO found that: (1) Commerce's FDIUS reports included all of the applicable data requirements and responded to prior GAO recommendations; (2) the reports' analyses and conclusions relating to FDIUS economic effects were generally thorough and reasonable, but in a few instances, Commerce's conclusions were more definitive than evidence warranted; (3) BEA obtains FDIUS information through survey questionnaires that require U.S. affiliates of foreign firms to report on financial and operating data; (4) BEA has strengthened its survey procedures and increased its staff devoted to survey follow-up in order to ensure compliance with reporting requirements; (5) BEA-Census and BEA-BLS data sharing efforts have generated data on U.S. affiliates of foreign firms at a greater level than was previously available, allowing Commerce to draw more meaningful conclusions in its reports; (6) certain restrictions and factors related to the protection of confidential data continue to limit more extensive data sharing among federal agencies; and (7) Commerce has fulfilled the legislative requirements by improving the quantity and quality of FDIUS data, resulting in both government officials and private sector analysts gaining access to previously unavailable FDIUS data.

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