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Modernization and Reengineeringof the Census of GovernmentsPresented to the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee Carma R. Hogue Lisa M. Blumerman Governments Division December 17, 2010 Disclaimer: This presentation is released to inform interested parties of research and to encourage discussion of work in progress. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the U.S. Census Bureau.
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 • Our data tell 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 • Our data help policy makers formulate important, informed decisions
Base Programs • Census of Governments and related programs • Organizational Data – number of governments & character • Employment Data – number of employees & payroll • Finance Data – revenues, expenditures, debt, & assets • Some of the oldest continuous data collections • First survey of State Government Finances, 1902 • “Modern day” Census of Governments, 1957
Reimbursable Programs • Because of Governments Division’s expertise in the public sector, surveys are conducted on behalf of other agencies • Historically, the surveys compliment the work of the base programs
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 8
Summary of CNStat Recommendations CNStat Report Themes • Data Quality, Relevance, and Utility • Dissemination • Timeliness 9
CNStat Overarching Recommendation Recommendation 6-1: The Governments Division should include two tracks in its strategic plan: one track that plans for an environment of constrained resources and a second track that identifies ways to build support over time for enhancing the division’s data series and the information provided to users on the Census Bureau’s website. Progress Update: Governments Division reorganized May 2009 Strategic Plan issued October 2009 and updated October 2010 Ensured transparency through website dedicated to progress on government statistics programs 10
CNStat Theme: Data Quality, Relevance, and Utility Recommendation: Get feedback from users Progress Update Made presentations to the Census Bureau’s Professional Advisory Committee, April 2010; Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, June 2010; National Association for Business Economics, November 2010 Created the Outreach and Education Branch Increased our participation in user meetings; conducted Data User Workshops 12
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: Began regular press releases in October 2008 with the release of 2007 Employment Census data Introduced quarterly surveys to “Tip Sheets” and plan to develop quarterly press releases Introduced new analytical material to accompany releases Redesigned the Website and introduced Build-A-Table Plan to build stakeholder support and to educate constituents 13
Build-A-Table Select category Select variables Retrieve data
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: Currently reviewing existing processes and methods to determine where efficiencies can be made (reengineering efforts) Successful in moving up the release of several products Researching selective edits and new estimation methods to produce preliminary estimates 15
Increased Timeliness of Quarterly Retirement Response Rates: 2nd Q. 2009 – 2nd Q. 2010
CNStat Theme: Data Quality, Relevance, and Utility Recommendation: Re-engineer the Quarterly Tax Survey Progress update: New methodologies and process improvements led to higher quality and more timely products for the Quarterly Tax Survey, specifically: New sampling, editing, imputation, and estimation methodologies established Questionnaire content revamped to increase relevance; forms fully tested For property tax component, bridge study released in September 2010 For non-property component, new probability sample to be mailed in December 2010 17
CNStat Theme: Data Quality, Relevance, and Utility Recommendation: Explore sound means of collecting data on tax valuation Progress update: Team formed to explore tax valuation data collection Conducted literature review of national assessment/sales ratio standards Determine if the measures fit current OMB and Census Bureau statistical standards Examine the quality of administrative records in a comparison study 18
CNStat Theme: Data Quality, Relevance, and Utility Recommendation: Consider methods that borrow strength to better estimate state and local government statistics Progress update: New modified cut-off sampling procedure corrects effects of poor response from very small governments New decision-based estimation methodology that borrows strength from census year data to better estimate state and local government statistics Regular consultations with experts both internal and external to Census 19
Research projects (sample design, dashboards, “decision-based” estimation, small area estimation, nonresponse bias studies) Governments Division Report Series Available at: http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/govern.html Training and development of staff through conference attendance, seminars, and courses Research Program 22
Governments Master Address File (GMAF) and Government Units Survey (GUS) Develop new GMAF to integrate all of the sampling frames Gathered requirements after assessing program needs Currently redesigning IT systems to ensure technical capabilities and full integration with surveys/programs Develop new GUS to improve coverage of 2012 Census of Governments and intercensal surveys Cognitive interviewing for GUS started in October with a second round completed in December Pretest of GUS scheduled for February Data collection will begin in October 2011 23
Quality Improvement Program Goal of reaching governments in order to improve questionnaire design, non- response follow-up, and coverage Started “QuIP Trips” in August with a visit to state and local governments in Illinois; subsequent trips followed to Pennsylvania and New Jersey Prepared “state snapshots” to introduce data to local governments Visited local government leaders with positive results: new method for building our universe, information about births and deaths, knowledge of record keeping practices 24
Next Steps on Modernization and Reengineering • Continue involvement with the data user community • Continue Quality Improvement Program – “QuIP Trips” • Review and determine the content for the 2012 Census of Governments • Revitalize our product line • Modernize and reengineer systems based on the results of our research
Carma R. Hogue Assistant Division Chief, Statistical Research & Methodology Governments Division Carma.Ray.Hogue@census.gov 301-763-4882