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COPAFS Corner
COPAFS Focuses on Statistical Activities
Stephanie Shipp and Stephen Cohen, ASA Representatives to COPAFS
COPAFS is the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistic s and
comprised of the membership of 60 organizations, including professional
organizations, businesses, research institutes, and others interested in federal
statistics. As a member of COPAFS, the ASA has two representatives from the
Government Statistics Section who attend the quarterly meetings and report
back to the ASA membership. Highlights of the December 5, 2008, meeting
held at the Bureau of Labor Statistics follow.
E
d Spar started his executive director’s report estimates, something they stopped doing around
by drawing our attention to the federal statis- 1994. The bureau also is establishing a commit-
tical budgets since 2001. He noted that the tee of the Federal-State Cooperative Program for
budgets, when adjusted for inflation, provide a Population Estimates to look into reviewing the
clearer picture of the cuts that some agencies have process for challenges and revisions.
experienced. For example, the National Center for Spar described the House bill that would make
Education Statistics budget increases from $80.0 the U.S. Census Bureau an independent agency
million in 2001 to $88.4 million in 2008, but in and establish fixed five-year terms for the director.
adjusted dollars, the budget drops from $70.3 mil- The bill gained support from associations such as
lion in 2001 to $60.8 million in 2008. the Population Association of America, but did
Spar announced that the second half of the not pass this year. It might be reintroduced to
March 2009 COPAFS meeting will be devoted to Congress in 2009.
presentations on proposed standards for defining Spar described the obstacles to the cross-sharing
metropolitan and micropolitan areas. The primary of Internal Revenue Service data among the U.S.
issues concern the designation of combined areas Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis
and when and how often American Community (BEA), and Bureau of Labor Statistics and reported
Survey (ACS) commuting data should be used to that work is under way to establish ways for agencies
update metropolitan and micropolitan areas. The to share the data for statistical purposes. Much work
COPAFS presentations are expected to coincide remains to be done, but Spar said there has been
with a Federal Register notice on the topic. positive response and expressed hope that the effort
Budget difficulties continue at the National will move along next year.
Center for Health Statistics, so as of 2009, employ-
ees there will only collect “core” vital statistics data,
Cybercrime Against Business
dropping the collection of “enhanced” items used by
Ramona Rantala, from the Bureau of Justice
a number of agencies. Spar explained that the cuts
Statistics, explained that the Department of Justice
are not limited to vital statistics, as nursing home
has done pilot studies on cybercrime, but current
and hospital discharge surveys are being dropped
efforts were prompted in 2003, when it was directed
and the Health Interview Survey (HIS) is being
to collect better data on the subject. The depart-
cut in half. The HIS cut will impair the geographic
ment has since started a national survey in partner-
level, where it can be used (national and maybe the
ship with the Department of Homeland Security
region), and have a negative effect on other surveys
and others. Data collection is contracted to RAND
that depend on it.
Corporation and Market Strategies, Inc.
For those interested in the U.S. Census Bureau’s
The sample consists of 35,600 companies strati-
population estimates, Spar noted that the county
fied by industry and company size and drawn from
estimates will now add up to independent state
the Dun & Bradstreet database. Only companies
24 AMSTAT NEWS MARCH 2009
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