The Statistical Agencies of the Federal Government: A Report to the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government

By Frederick C. Mills; Clarence D. Long | Go to book overview

3 OPERATION OF THE FEDERAL STATISTICAL SYSTEM

PRECEDING SECTIONS HAVE DEALT WITH THE FRAMEWORK, THE statutory bases, and the costs of the Federal statistical system. We now examine its workings, describing successively the operations of an important public purpose agency and a major administrative agency, relations among statistical agencies, the appropriations process, and instruments of statistical coordination.


The Statistical Process within a Public Purpose Collection Agency: The 1947 Census of Manufactures

With dozens of agencies gathering multiple varieties of statistics ranging from the production of artichokes in California to the average hourly wind velocity in Mobile, it is not easy to select operations that are typical. The problems that beset the Census Bureau in collecting, processing, and presenting data on employment in manufacturing differ markedly from those that worry the Bureau of Labor Statistics in estimating employment in construction; and a still different set of problems faces the Interstate Commerce Commission in compiling and presenting statistics of railway operation.

Nevertheless, a general procedure characterizes a considerable body of statistics and although the problems often vary in detail, their nature and the devices for solving them remain reasonably standard. We may best describe the operation of a public purpose collection agency, and the mechanisms developed to lubricate and synchronize it, by analyzing an important activity recently concluded: the Census of Manufactures for the year ended December 1947.


PLANNING THE CENSUS

This census covering the full year 1947 could not begin until 1948 and was still in progress in mid-1948. Its advance planning, however, went back to 1946 and relied heavily on the census of manufactures conducted in 1939 and on cen-

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