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The Structure and Activities of the US Federal Statistical System: History and Recurrent Challenges

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Groves, Robert M. 2010. "The Structure and Activities of the US Federal Statistical System: History and Recurrent Challenges." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 631: 163-178.

This article examines the statistical system of the United States-featuring fourteen principal statistical agencies and sixty to seventy units in other federal agencies-focusing on the system's highly decentralized nature and the ways in which the agencies attempt to evaluate the status of issues relevant to the mission of their departments and to provide information helpful in the creation of new policy. The history and challenges of the various agencies are examined, with the article showing that these challenges are inevitably tied to the cabinet departments to which they are attached. The article also examines recurrent issues facing the U.S. federal statistical system, including functional separation of statistical activities from regulatory activities, centralization versus decentralization, hiring structure of directors, data confidentiality versus access, policy relevance versus policy-making involvement, and contracting out statistical activities versus agency-conducted statistical activities.

DOI:10.1177/0002716210374024 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States.

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