Statistical Agencies

Statutory Requirements Affecting Government Policies and Programs Gao ID: GGD-96-106 July 17, 1996

GAO was asked to provide a list of legislatively mandated reports that statistical agencies are to produce for Congress on a regular basis and the statutory authority for the reports. The information was requested to assist congressional consideration of proposals to consolidate statistical agencies. This report provides a listing of authorizing statutes establishing the agencies and confidentiality or disclosure provisions for the 11 principal statistical agencies, a listing of these agencies' mandated reporting requirements to Congress, and a listing of the uses of the agencies' statistical products in the administration of federal programs.

GAO found that: (1) the 11 principal statistical agencies are subject to a variety of laws that authorize statistical activities, prevent the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, and require them to report the results of their statistical activities to Congress; (2) legislatively mandated reporting requirements vary in number and scope among agencies and usually direct the principal statistical agencies to report to Congress on specific subjects of interest; (3) authorizing legislation often mentions that the report is to Congress, but usually does not mention congressional jurisdiction; (4) Congress uses statistical information to monitor the performance of federal agencies as they implement legislation, exercise appropriate budget control, and formulate policies for federal programs and other legislative initiatives; and (5) the statistics produced by the 11 principal statistical agencies assist in the development and revision of numerous government policies, administration of many federal programs, and evaluation of government programs.

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