niques. Such efforts should also extend to the development of data, especially for emerging policy issues (National Research Council, 1999a). In some cases, it may be not only more efficient, but also productive of needed new data for agencies to fully integrate the designs of existing data systems, such as when one survey provides the sampling frame for a related survey. In other instances, cooperative efforts may identify ways for agencies to improve their individual data systems so that they are more useful for a wide range of purposes.
Two of the more effective continuing cooperative efforts in this regard have been the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics and the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. The former was established in the mid-1980s by the National Institute on Aging, in cooperation with the National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau. The forum's goals include coordinating the development and use of statistical data bases among federal agencies, identifying information gaps and data inconsistencies, and encouraging cross-national research and data collection for the aging population. The forum was reorganized in 1998 to include six new member agencies, and the reconfigured forum decided at its first meeting in March 1999 to focus on developing an indicators chart book, which was published the following year (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, 2000).
The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics was formalized in a 1994 executive order to foster coordination and collaboration in the collection and reporting of federal data on children and families. It includes many relevant statistical and program agencies. Its annual reports (e.g., Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 2000) describe the condition of America's children, including changing population, family characteristics, and the context in which children are living and indicators of well-being in the areas of economic security, health, behavior, social environment, and education.
No single agency, whether a statistical or program agency, could have produced the forum reports alone. Working together in this way, federal statistical agencies contribute to data more relevant to policy concerns and to a stronger statistical system overall.