The Nation’s Data at Risk:
Meeting America’s Information Needs for the 21st Century

A Report of the American Statistical Association in Partnership with George Mason University and Supported by the Sloan Foundation

The Nation's Data at Risk

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Federal statistics are essential US infrastructure. Produced by 13 principal federal statistical agencies and other statistical programs, they compose the official facts and figures on which countless government, personal, and business decisions depend. The importance of this infrastructure goes beyond commerce. Federal statistics are a core democratic institution, supporting free and fair elections, fair and impartial courts, and informed civil discourse. Further, high-quality official statistics are essential to understanding flows of trade, investment, and people with other nations.

This report is the result of a year-long project to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the 13 principal federal statistical agencies and the chief statistician’s office. Most importantly, we assessed their capacity to serve the nation in the years ahead in response to the movement for evidence-building; the changes in our population, economy, and society; and the increased demand for more frequent, timely, and granular information.

Our bottom-line assessment is that federal statistics are at risk. Federal statistical agencies face increasing challenges to their ability to produce relevant, timely, credible, accurate, and objective statistics and to innovate to the extent necessary to meet the nation’s information and evidence requirements in the 21st century.

Supporting Materials

The project team assessed the health of federal statistical agencies regarding the following:

  • Professional autonomy
  • Support from their parent agency
  • Sufficiency of their budget and staffing
  • Challenges and opportunities for data quality and innovation
  • Engagement with data users

The links below take you to each of these assessments and other supporting materials.

Agency Profiles

Other Material

Helpful Links

Contact Steve Pierson

Please provide feedback on the current report and suggest topics for the next report. Your input is valuable and will help shape our future reporting.

View the July 9 webinar recording and slides.

Press Release

Project Homepage →