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), and Sweden (Statistics Sweden). Instead, the statistical system is decentralized, with statistical agencies 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), there are 13 principal statistical agencies which 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 efforts

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 agencies

The Principal Statistical Agencies[1]
Seal Agency Department Established FY13 Budget Est.[2]


Bureau of the Census U.S. Department of Commerce 1903 $1,000.4
Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. Department of Labor 1884 $618.2
National Center for Education Statistics U.S. Department of Education 1867 $317.0
National Agricultural Statistics Service U.S. Department of Agriculture 1961 $179.5
National Center for Health Statistics U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1960 $161.8
Energy Information Administration U.S. Department of Energy 1977 $116.4
Bureau of Economic Analysis U.S. Department of Commerce 1972 $96.5
Economic Research Service U.S. Department of Agriculture 1961 $77.4
Bureau of Justice Statistics U.S. Department of Justice 1979 $68.0
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
(National Science Foundation)
Independent agency 1950 $42.6
Statistics of Income Division
(Internal Revenue Service)
U.S. Department of the Treasury 1862 $39.5
Bureau of Transportation Statistics U.S. Department of Transportation 1992 $38.0
Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics
(Social Security Administration)
Independent agency 1935 $29.3


External links

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