Government Statistics:

Proposal to Form a Federal Statistical Service

T-GGD-96-93: Published: Mar 22, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 1996.


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GAO discussed proposed legislation that would create a Federal Statistical Service by consolidating the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). GAO noted that: (1) any reorganization of these agencies should consider the principles of coordination, goal orientation, organization, implementation, and oversight; (2) coordination among statistical agencies is limited by statues that restrict data sharing, and the proposed legislation would not specifically remove those restrictions or restrictions affecting other statistical agencies; (3) goals to consider in establishing the new agency could include enhanced operational efficiency, adherence to professional standards, national priorities for statistical programs, and enhanced data quality; (4) alternatives for addressing problems in the federal statistical system include privatization, improving the current decentralized system by increasing data sharing, consolidating Census, BEA, and BLS, or consolidating additional federal statistical agencies; (5) while Canada's centralized statistics agency appears to offer advantages over the U.S. system, the United States is a much larger and more complex nation than Canada, the Canadian statistical system is much smaller, and the Canadian public has accepted that a government agency will have broad access to statistical information; (6) adequate planning will be necessary for successful implementation of a consolidated statistical agency; and (7) sustained congressional oversight will be required to ensure successful implementation of a consolidated agency.

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