Federal Statistical System of the United States

The Federal Statistical System of the United States is the decentralized network of federal agencies which produce data about the people, economy, natural resources, and infrastructure of the United States.


In contrast to many other countries, the United States does not have a primary statistical agency.[1] Examples of countries that have centralized statistical agencies include Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics), Canada (Statistics Canada), Jamaica (Statistical Institute of Jamaica) and Sweden (Statistics Sweden). Instead, the statistical system is decentralized, with 13 statistical agencies, two of which are independent agencies and the remaining 11 generally located in different government departments. This structure keeps statistical work within close proximity to the various cabinet-level departments that use the information.[1]

As of fiscal year 2013 (FY13), the 13 principal statistical agencies have statistical activities as their core mission and conduct much of the government’s statistical work.[1] A further 89 federal agencies were appropriated at least $500,000 of statistical work in FY11, FY12, or FY13 in conjunction with their primary missions.[2] All together, the total budget allocated to the Federal Statistical System is estimated to be $6.7 billion for FY13.[2]

The Federal Statistical System is coordinated through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB establishes and enforces statistical policies and standards, ensures that resources are proposed for priority statistical programs, and approves statistical surveys conducted by the Federal government under the Paperwork Reduction Act.[3] The Chief Statistician of the United States, also housed within OMB, provides oversight, coordination, and guidance for Federal statistical activities, working in collaboration with leaders of statistical agencies.[3]

Centralization effortsEdit

To streamline operations and reduce costs, several proposals have been made to consolidate the federal statistical system into fewer agencies, or even a single agency.[4] In 2011, President Barack Obama's proposal to reorganize the U.S. Department of Commerce included placing several statistical agencies under one umbrella.[5]

Principal statistical agenciesEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Fecso, Ronald S. (February 24, 2012). "Agencies Can Make Greater Use of Existing Data, but Continued Progress Is Needed on Access and Quality Issues". Government Accountability Office. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Zients, Jeffrey D. (November 26, 2012). "Statistical Programs of the United States Government" (PDF). Office of Management and Budget. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Wallman, Katherine K. "Statistical Programs of the United States Government" (PDF). Office of Management and Budget. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 15, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  4. ^ "Proposal to Form a Federal Statistical Service". Government Accountability Office. March 22, 1996. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  5. ^ Lipowicz, Alice (January 17, 2012). "Obama reorganization could affect at least 12 agencies". Federal Computer Week. Retrieved March 19, 2013.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Statistical Programs of the United States Government: Fiscal Year 2017