Statistical Surveys:

Census Bureau Has Creditable Employment and Economic Data-Collection Procedures

IMTEC-86-8: Published: Mar 14, 1986. Publicly Released: Apr 14, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed two Census Bureau statistical surveys: (1) the Current Population Survey (CPS) which reflects monthly employment, unemployment, and general labor-force characteristics; and (2) the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) which provides a continuing measure of individuals' and households' economic conditions, income sources, labor-force activity, and participation in federal benefit programs.

GAO reviewed: (1) questionnaire design; (2) interviewer selection, training, and supervision; and (3) quality control in gathering and reviewing data. GAO visited two Census Bureau regional offices and determined that: (1) each survey's questionnaire design, though reliable for compiling statistical estimates and making needed comparisons, could be redesigned to improve accuracy; (2) interviewer selection is based on reasonable criteria; (3) interviewer training is comprehensive and adequately covers the necessary skills; (4) supervisory and administrative quality controls for the data-collection and review activities are in place and operating to reasonably ensure data integrity; and (5) the regions are doing a creditable job of complying with the data-collection and review procedures. GAO noted two issues that could affect data quality, including: (1) attracting and retaining qualified interviewers; and (2) respondent participation.

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