Census of Governments moves toward electronic data collection

Census of Governments moves toward electronic data collection

Everyone knows about the decennial census of U.S. residents, but the Census Bureau also produces the Census of Governments.  This collection of data on the economic activity of state and local governments gives researchers, policy analysts and the general public a better understanding of public finance, pensions and employment in the public sector.

Now, to improve accuracy of the data and ease the burden of collection on state and local governments, the Census of Governments has outlined four strategies to boost innovation and efficiency and contain data collection costs:

  1. Move toward 100 percent electronic collection by partnering with state governments to expand options for electronic data collection.
  1. Reduce the burden on state and local governments by collecting data from many agencies via a single state contact, tapping available streams from internal government accounting systems and administrative data.
  1. Automate operations by integrating processing systems, developing a single delivery system for results and improving statistical methods for better coverage and data quality.
  1. Improve data products to reflect changing public-sector activity by measuring new and dynamic government programs, releasing data more quickly, better integrating more content across survey areas and programs and updating the official classification manual so that data content is captured more accurately.

The Census of Governments expects to release data on state government tax collections and finances in 2018.  In 2019, government employment, payroll data and pensions will be released.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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