The Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) is a standing committee of the National Academies. It was established in 1972 at the recommendation of the President's Commission on Federal Statistics to fill a critical gap as an integrative force for the federal government's highly decentralized statistical system. The Committee works to improve the data and analytic methods that contribute to public policy research and decision making. During this grant period, the Committee will hold public seminars and develop studies in areas of increasing challenge for federal statistical agencies, including the need to integrate household and business surveys, confronting declining survey response, the use administrative records to improve data quality, enlarging the pipeline of technically qualified agency personnel, and bolstering innovation in federal statistics. It will continue to study issues of balancing confidentiality protection with research access to data, measuring the changing economy, enhancing the quality and cost-effectiveness of major censuses and surveys, and refining and applying statistical methods, such as experimental design and data mining, to important national issues. The Committee also will respond to requests for particular studies from sponsor agencies. Some current and expected projects include evaluation of the 2010 census; redesign of the Consumer Expenditure Survey; measuring subjective well-being in a policy-relevant national accounting framework; developing a medical care risk index to complement the new supplemental poverty measure; assessing alternative estimates of children eligible for school nutrition programs and limited-English proficiency funding allocations; and an update of the Committee's white paper, Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency. Joint projects with other units in the National Academies include redesign of the Commercial Building and Residential Energy Consumption Surveys and measuring higher education productivity.
Committee on National Statistics projects are designed to have broad application beyond the specific issues covered. Many studies help improve government policy and operations, such as allocations of funds for education and nutrition programs. Almost all contribute to the social, behavioral, and economic sciences in such ways as: improving federally-sponsored data collections on which much social science research depends; furthering the development and use of statistical methods for policy and methodological research; providing forums for intellectual exchange and consideration of system-wide issues, such as facilitating innovation in federal data collection and dissemination; and advancing the social, behavioral, and economic sciences within the National Academies and through the Committee's relationships with Congress, OMB, and federal research and program agencies. Many projects also contribute to better public understanding by improving key national indicators (e.g., the poverty measure, the Consumer Price Index) and the quality, relevance, and accessibility of key data sets.