The Federal Statistical System
Relevant, timely, credible, and objective statistical information is part of the foundation of democracy and the fundamental responsibility of the U.S. Federal statistical system. Since the Nation's founding, the U.S. Federal statistical system has collected and transformed data into high quality statistical information, making it readily and equitably available to inform all types of decision-making, while protecting the responses of individual data providers. Such decisions may include those made by Federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal policymakers; the private sector, including businesses; and individuals. Led by the Chief Statistician of the United States (CSOTUS) and the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy (ICSP), the U.S. Federal statistical system is a decentralized, interconnected network of 13 principal statistical agencies and 3 recognized statistical units, 24 Statistical Officials (across 24 major cabinet agencies), approximately 100 additional Federal statistical programs engaged in statistical activities, and several cross system interagency and advisory bodies.
The vision of the Federal statistical system is to operate as a seamless system, as stewards of much of the nation's most sensitive data, enabling greater evidence building, civic engagement, and public and private sector decision making.
This graphic depicts each of the entities as part of the decentralized, interconnected network that is the Federal statistical system.
Office of the Chief Statistician of the United States
The Chief Statistician of the United States (CSOTUS) leads and coordinates the decentralized U.S. Federal statistical system, along with the ICSP. CSOTUS is assisted by a staff of senior statisticians. The Office of the Chief Statistician of the United States and leaders of the statistical system are working together to provide strategic vision and robust implementation in support of the U.S. Federal statistical system's critical longstanding — and expanding — role for supporting evidence-based decision-making. The responsibilities of the CSOTUS, derived from statutes — including the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) and the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act) — include:
- Coordinating the activities of the U.S. Federal statistical system to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the system and the integrity, objectivity, impartiality, utility, and confidentiality of information collected for statistical purposes
- Ensuring that agencies' budget proposals are consistent with U.S. Federal statistical system priorities
- Developing and implementing United States government-wide statistical policies, principles, standards, guidelines, and regulations, including those required by the Evidence Act, to bolster trust in the U.S. Federal statistical system, enhance the ability of statistical agencies and units to acquire Federal data for statistical purposes, and promote the expansion of safe and secure access to protected statistical data
- Evaluating statistical program performance and agency compliance with policies, principles, standards, guidelines, and regulations
- Approving statistical agency information collections and regulations
- Promoting the sharing of statistical information, consistent with privacy rights and confidentiality pledges
- Coordinating United States participation in international statistical activities, including the development of comparable statistics, and also representing the United States as a member of the United Nations Statistical Commission, among other international bodies
- Chairing the ICSP and working with other interagency councils to promote U.S. Federal statistical system priorities and to facilitate statistical functions and activities
- Providing opportunities for training in statistical policy functions to employees of the Federal Government
Interagency Council on Statistical Policy
Started in 1989, the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy (ICSP) was originally created to improve communication among the heads of the principal statistical agencies, and later was charged with advising and assisting the CSOTUS. The Evidence Act expanded membership to include the newly established Statistical Officials across major cabinet agencies, 11 of which are also heads of principal statistical agencies. The ICSP, led by the CSOTUS, supports implementation of the statistical system's vision to operate as a seamless system, working together to provide strategic vision and robust implementation in support of the U.S. Federal statistical system's critical longstanding — and expanding — role for supporting evidence-based decision-making. For example, the ICSP sets strategic goals for modernizing the statistical system, as well as enhancing coordination and collaboration across the system, recognizing the efficiencies and advancements possible when taking advantage of the whole system's statistical infrastructure and expertise.
Current Strategic Priorities
- Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2018 (CIPSEA 2018) regulations and processes
- Promoting data quality
- Mitigating re-identification risk and the protection of data
- Autonomy and objectivity best practices
- Establishing Statistical Official role
- Enabling blended/high frequency data
- Developing staff data skills through employee engagement, the ICSP mentoring program, and data science initiatives
- Collaborating with other Evidence Act Officials, including Chief Data Officers and Evaluation Officers
The ICSP also charters subcommittees, as well as sponsoring leadership, mentorship, and awards programs. Some examples include:
- ICSP Charter
- ICSP Subcommittee - the American Community Survey
- ICSP Subcommittee – Standard Application Process (SAP) Governance Board
- ICSP Subcommittee – Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (FSRDC) Executive Committee
- ICSP Mentoring Program
- Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award
Chaired by the CSOTUS, the ICSP is comprised of 26 other members. Pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), all 13 heads of the principal statistical agencies are members. Pursuant to the Evidence Act, all 24 Statistical Officials are also members. Eleven of the Statistical Officials are also heads of principal statistical agencies or units.
Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis^
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
General Services Administration
Anna Maria Calcagno*
Small Business Administration
Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics^
Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration^
Office of Personnel Management
Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service^
Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics^
Department of the Treasury, Statistics of Income^
Social Security Administration, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics^
Department of the Interior
Environmental Protection Agency
Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics^
Office of Management and Budget, Office of the Chief Statistician of the U.S.
Department of Defense
Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics^
U.S. Agency for International Development
Department of State
National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics^
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census^
Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service^
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Department of Veterans Affairs
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics^
^ Principal Statistical Agency
* Statistical Official
Principal Statistical Agencies and Recognized Units
OMB recognizes 16 statistical agencies and units under the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2018 (CIPSEA 2018). Of these, thirteen are known as principal statistical agencies, which are agencies or organizational units of the Executive Branch whose missions are predominantly the collection, compilation, processing, or analysis of information for statistical purposes, covering such topics as the economy, workforce, energy, agriculture, foreign trade, education, housing, crime, transportation, and health. In addition, OMB recognizes three additional units: Microeconomic Surveys Unit (Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve System); Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Department of Health and Human Services); and National Animal Health Monitoring System, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Department of Agriculture).
Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology
The mission of the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM) includes advising the CSOTUS and ICSP on methodological and statistical issues that affect the quality of Federal data. The FCSM sponsors regular conferences, hosts seminars and workshops, sponsors interest groups on statistical methodology topics of broad Federal interest, and develops best practices and tools to support the Federal statistical system and the broader Federal data community.
For more information, visit the FCSM website.
Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee
The Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee (FESAC) advises the Directors of the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of the Census and the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics on statistical methodology and other technical matters related to the collection, tabulation, and analysis of federal economic statistics.
For more information, visit the FESAC website.
Standard Application Process
As required by the Evidence Act/CIPSEA 2018, a standard application process (SAP) to apply for access to confidential data assets was developed by the ICSP. This SAP will continue to evolve over time to address issues and new or emerging needs, and will continue to require engagement from leaders across the Federal statistical system and the broader Federal data ecosystem.
For more information, visit the SAP Program Management Office website.
Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building
The Evidence Act implemented approximately half of the recommendations produced by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP). The CEP was established in 2016 and delivered a report in 2017 to the President and to Congress containing 22 recommendations to encourage: (1) systematic planning for evidence building; (2) high quality data governance; and (3) coordinated support for privacy-protected data sharing. To advise OMB on implementation of some Evidence Act requirements, and to refine other recommendations from the CEP, Congress included a requirement in the Evidence Act to stand up the Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building (ACDEB). The ACDEB was tasked to review, analyze, and make recommendations on how to promote the use of Federal data for evidence building. Its duties included advising the CSOTUS and ICSP on implementation of Title III of the Evidence Act, known as the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2018 (CIPSEA 2018). The ACDEB delivered its final report to OMB in October 2022.
For more information, visit the ACDEB website. For more information on the CEP, visit the CEP website.