Congress should amend the Internal Revenue Code such that statistical agencies such as the BEA and BLS gain access to the Census Bureau’s Business Register for more accurate reporting.
U.S. statistical agencies are barred by law from sharing important microdata with one another, and this leads to statistics on the U.S. economy that are badly inaccurate. These accuracy problems affect everything from the BEA’s national and state GDP statistics, to the BLS’s and the Census Bureau’s (separate) employment, payroll and establishment statistics, to statistics on the productivity growth and trade balances in strategic sectors such as manufacturing. And because these statistics are used by the federal government to make fiscal and monetary policy decisions, this data sharing problem leads to misdiagnosis of economic problems and ineffective policies. Moreover, the lack of data sharing leads to work redundancy (many agencies procuring their own data to produce similar statistics), increasing budget costs while also increasing the reporting burden on private businesses. Congress should amend the Internal Revenue Code such that statistical agencies such as the BEA and BLS gain access to the Census Bureau’s Business Register (which is derived from IRS data).