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Modernization and Reengineering of the Census of Governments Presented at the State Data Center Annual Training Conference. Lisa Blumerman Governments Division October 14, 2010. Introduction to Governments Division. Main Purposes of Governments Division programs

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Modernization and Reengineeringof the Census of GovernmentsPresented at theState Data CenterAnnual Training Conference

Lisa Blumerman

Governments Division

October 14, 2010

introduction to governments division
Introduction to Governments Division
  • Main Purposes of Governments Division programs
    • Provide socio-economic statistics about governments
    • Act as a public-sector counterpart to economic data of business, industry, and services
    • Track activity of governments over time
  • Response is voluntary
  • Virtually no confidentiality restrictions
importance of the data
Importance of the Data
  • Tells the story of the fiscal welfare of federal, state, and local government
  • Our data constitute 12 percent of Gross Domestic Product
  • Our data are the only source of comprehensive, uniform statistics on governments – we are the gold standard
  • Helps policy makers make important, informed decisions
base programs
Base Programs
  • Census of Governments and related programs
    • Finance Data – revenues, expenditures, debt, & assets
    • Employment Data – number of employees & payroll
    • Organizational Data – number of governments & character
  • Some of the oldest continuous data collections
    • First survey of State Government Finances, 1902
    • “Modern day” Census of Governments, 1957
reimbursable programs
Reimbursable Programs
  • Because of Governments Division expertise in the public-sector, surveys are conducted on behalf of other agencies
  • Historically, the surveys compliment the work of the base programs
hot off the press
Hot Off the Press!
  • Consolidated Federal Funds Report & Federal Aid to States FY09 (August 2010)
  • Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll FY09 (August 2010)
  • Quarterly Tax, 2nd Q. FY10 (September 2010)
  • Quarterly Retirement, 2nd Q. FY10 (October 2010)
state and local government statistics at a crossroads
State and Local Government Statistics at a Crossroads

2007 report issued by the Committee on National Statistics (CNStat)

Suggested 21 recommendations for improving existing programs

Working toward addressing the majority of recommendations by the 2012 Census of Governments


summary of cnstat recommendations
Summary of CNStat Recommendations

CNStat Report Themes

  • Data Quality, Relevance, and Utility
  • Dissemination
  • Timeliness


cnstat theme data quality relevance and utility
CNStat Theme: Data Quality, Relevance, and Utility

Recommendation: Get feedback from users

Progress Update

Increasing participation in user meetings

Series of focus groups with variety of data users in both the Federal statistical community and the private research community

Presentation to the Census Bureau’s Professional Advisory Committee, April 2010


cnstat theme data quality relevance and utility1
CNStat Theme: Data Quality, Relevance, and Utility

Recommendation: Conduct research on barriers to response and use results to develop strategies for response improvement

Progress Update:

Division launched Quality Improvement Program

Small reporting practices and nonresponse follow-up study will lead to revised questionnaires and content.

Visited state and local governments in Illinois (August) and Pennsylvania (September). Future states to be identified.

Conducted cognitive testing for the Quarterly Tax survey


cnstat theme data quality relevance and utility2
CNStat Theme: Data Quality, Relevance, and Utility

Recommendation: Conduct research on existing methods to identify efficiencies and improvements

Progress Update:

Re-organized the division to develop an area devoted to research and methodology

Redesigning all aspects of the Quarterly Tax survey

Local Finance Central Collection Evaluation

Increase efforts with Census Bureau stakeholders, including advisory committees, SDC, CIC, and FSCPE programs


cnstat theme dissemination
CNStat Theme: Dissemination

Recommendation: Facilitate wider dissemination of products by issuing press releases; add value to existing data by providing simple derived measures; provide users with tools and documentation

Progress Update:

Regular press releases began in October 2008 with the release of 2007 Census of Employment data

Introduction of quarterly surveys to “Tip Sheets” and planning on developing quarterly press releases

Introduced new analytical material to accompany releases

Availability through Build-A-Table and Website redesign

Stakeholder support and education of constituents


build a table

Select category

Select variables

Retrieve data

cnstat theme timeliness
CNStat Theme: Timeliness

Recommendation: Research the benefits/costs of adopting earlier release procedures, i.e., releasing preliminary estimates or releasing estimates as they are compiled

Progress Update:

Successful in moving up the release of several products

Some constraints due to data processing include reviewing existing processes and methods to determine where efficiencies can be made (reengineering efforts)


modernization and reengineering
Modernization and Reengineering


research program
Research projects (sample design, dashboards, “decision-based” estimation, small area estimation, nonresponse bias studies)

Governments Division Report Series

Available at:

Training and development of staff through conference attendance, seminars, and courses

Research Program


data user workshops
Data User Workshops
  • 6 Data User Workshops
    • 5 small exchanges in the fall and winter
    • 1 data user conference, March 2010
  • Workshops explored the varying needs for data on government statistics, specifically:
    • Research questions and data needs and uses;
    • Identified government statistics data that are most useful;
    • Identified and assisted in prioritizing additional data needs; and,
    • Identified potential data quality issues.
  • Planning to continue workshops each year


next steps on modernization and reengineering
Next Steps on Modernization and Reengineering
  • Continued involvement with the user community
  • Continuation of Quality Improvement Program – “QuIP Trips”
  • Content review and determination for the 2012 Census of Governments
  • Revitalized product line
  • Modernized and then reengineered systems
how we can work together
How We Can Work Together
  • Reengage partnership efforts with YOU!
  • Interact with your government and community to:
    • Disseminate products
    • Educate users through online tools, custom tabs, and Webinars
    • Increase state and local government response
    • Support of our programs
  • Your ideas?

Lisa Blumerman

Division Chief

Governments Division


For updated information on our efforts, please visit: