In the doument, U.S. Census Bureau’s "Budget Estimates,Fiscal Year 2012", presented to Congress February 2011, the Census Bureau recommends terminating the well-know publication, the Statistacal Abstract of the United States and several other publications of the Federal Financial Statistics Program of the Census Bureau.
The Statistical Abstract has been published since 1878 and is considered an important resource for its ease of use, comprehensive content, and as a guidebook to statistical sources. It has been used by librarians and public patrons for generations to help answer a myriad of statistical inquiries with both government & privately gathered data.
The Statistical Abstract has been available in print and online . But in a March 14 email regarding a conversation with Ian O'Brien, Chief of the Statistical Compendia Branch, librarian Lori Smith from Southeastern Louisiana University, reports that "No new editions would be produced in print or online."
The submitted Census document appears to indicate that the Census Bureau is proposing these terminations due both to substantial budgetary constraints and the need to prioritize several new data gathering endeavors.
The report states "The Administration is pursuing an aggressive government-wide effort to curb non-essential administrative spending called the Administrative Efficiency Initiative." ... "As such, the President directed each agency to analyze its administrative costs and identify savings where possible."
In asking for the termination of the Statistical Abstract and other publications, the Bureau states, "In order to fund higher priority programs within the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce,the FY 2012 request includes the following terminations and reductions, which are described in greater detail in the budget submission."
Several of the new program directions do seem to address important areas of new information gathering :
- In preparing for the 2020 Census,the Bureau is undertaking a three-year research and testing project.
- The significance of problems with government pensions is apparent to anyone who follows the news. But as the Bureau documents observes, "Little information exists on the full scale of unfunded liabilities associated with public pensions and OPEBs, nor are there comprehensive official statistics on these data. Developing new collection efforts in this area will provide public policymakers with a new data source in which to assess trillions in estimated liabilities of state and local governments"
- The current economic crisis has pushed whole new groups of workers into poverty. The Bureau wants to the develop "...a supplemental statistical poverty measure from the Current Population Survey to complement the current official measure."
- Making more extensive use of the government's own administratice records & data is another priority identified by the Bureau. "This program initiative will allow us to enhance the ability of the Federal statistical system to utilize administrative records."... "These pilot projects are designed to address existing barriers to more complete use of administrative data while at the same time contributing substantive topical knowledge in critical fields."
However, it is going to be difficult to convince the thousands of everyday users of Statistical Abstract that it should be eliminated for what many see as a short-sighted budget savings at the expense of a still very popular and useful public statistical resource.
Librarian, Hailey Mooney from Michigan State University Libraries says, "It would be a disservice to the American public to terminate the Statistical Abstract program. A democratic society is only made possible by an informed citizenry. The multitude of government statistical programs and publications can be difficult for many members of the public to understand and use. The government must support programs like the Statistical Abstract that enhance the availability of information."