surveys that it conducts (including the NCVS) so that the household samples are updated and coordinated across the various data collection programs. This work is done in collaboration with the agencies that sponsor Census Bureau–conducted surveys; “the portion of the sample redesign work that can be linked to a specific survey is funded by the sponsoring agency as part of the reimbursable cost of the survey,” while portions that are not directly identified with a specific survey are funded by the Census Bureau. “Thus, the approach combines central funding with user fees for survey specific redesign activities” (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2000:45–46). Although the sample redesign process has been routinely mentioned as an ongoing, cross-cutting activity in Statistical Programs of the United States Government, little detail on the progress (and consequences) of the effort was provided in the annual reports from 2001 to 2007. Ultimately, conversion from a sample deriving from the 1990 census to one using the 2000 numbers was not fully achieved for the NCVS until 2007; the redesign work was originally planned to be complete in fiscal year 2004.2 We recommend that the annual report provide additional discussion—and warning—of budget-related effects on basic survey maintenance when appropriate.

Recommendation 5.6: The Statistical Policy Office of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget is uniquely positioned to identify instances in which statistical agencies have been unable to perform basic sample or survey maintenance functions. For example, BJS was unable to update the NCVS household sample to reflect population and household shifts identified in the 2000 census until 2007. The Statistical Policy Office should note such breakdowns in basic survey maintenance functions in its annual report Statistical Programs of the United States Government.


A review of any survey, particularly one conducted with an eye toward reducing costs, must inevitably consider the question of who collects the data (in addition to exactly how the data are collected). In the case of the NCVS, the U.S. Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce has been engaged as data collection agent since the survey’s inception. In fact, as described in Box 1-1, the Census Bureau was heavily involved in the prehistory of the survey, entering into discussions with BJS’s predecessor in the


The new sample was phased in panel by panel. One panel of addresses based on the 2000 census was introduced in January 2005 for areas already included in the sample. “Beginning in January 2006, [the Census Bureau] introduced sample based on the 2000 decennial census in new areas. The phase-in of the 2000 sample and the phase-out of the 1990 sample will be complete in January 2008” (Demographic Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 2007b).

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement