Requests for Comment on Federal Data Collections

Economists’ capacity to produce meaningful, reproducible, impactful analyses is a function of their access to current, reliable, detailed data. The Federal government is a major supplier of data used in economic research – particularly via the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Bureau of Economic Analysis.

When Federal statistical agencies want to revise existing data collections or launch new ones, they are required by the Paperwork Reduction Act to clear their plans through the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). As part of this process, agencies issue requests for comment on planned changes in data collections. Requests may solicit input on specific survey questions, data collection methods, plans for data release and access, or methods of preventing disclosure of respondents’ identities. Or they may ask general questions about the utility of the data and how it could be improved. Some open requests for comment on data collections that may be of broad-based interest are listed on this page. Additional requests are posted on EconSpark.

In the experience of AEA’s Committee on Economic Statistics (AEAStat), knowledgeable comments from AEA members are highly valued by federal agencies, especially when they address data-collection features that complicate researchers’ ability to use the data to answer important questions, and when they identify changes that will improve the utility of the data for meeting information needs. To help AEA members make the most of opportunities to comment, AEAStat has developed a primer on the public comment process, which explains the why, what, and how of providing comments.

Please consider replying to requests that are up your alley! Your knowledgeable, thoughtful, actionable comments can help improve data quality, increase data access, open up new research opportunities, and contribute to ever-more robust economic research.  

National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (deadline October 19, 2023)

September 19 -- The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) solicits comments on a proposed redesign of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The NCVS provides national estimates of criminal victimization, including incidents not reported to police. The redesigned NCVS, to be fielded in 2024, aims to improve measurement of victimization and incident characteristics and includes two new periodic modules on police performance and community safety.

The current NCVS core survey questions cover 9 areas:

  • incidence of rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, personal larceny, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other theft;
  • incident characteristics, including location, time, presence of a weapon, injury, and property/monetary loss;
  • characteristics of victims, including sex, age, race, Hispanic origin, disability, and occupation;
  • relationship between victim and offender;
  • emotional impact of victimization;
  • victim self-defense and bystander intervention;
  • offender characteristics, including sex, age, race, and Hispanic origin;
  • reporting to police and police response; and
  • bias- or hate-motivated victimizations.

The new NCVS core instrument is to cover the same 9 areas and adds new periodic modules on:

  • police performance, including types of contact with police and opinions about police performance; and
  • community safety, including public perceptions of community issues related to crime and neighborhood safety.

The 2024 data collection will use a split sample design, fielding both the current and new survey questions. This will allow measurement of the effect of the design and help inform whether statistical adjustments are needed for the data to be used to track changes over time. Full-scale implementation of the new instrument will begin in 2025.

  • For additional information, please see the BJS webpage on the NCVS redesign
  • The Federal Register notice can be found here.
  • The deadline for submitting comments to OMB is October 19, 2023. To submit a comment, go to this siteand click on “Comment.”

Annual Business Survey (deadline November 21, 2023)

September 22 -- The U.S. Census Bureau solicits comments on a proposed revision of the Annual Business Survey (ABS). The ABS is a joint project of the Census Bureau and the NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). It collects information on demographic characteristics of business owners; R&D activities of microbusinesses and nonprofit organizations; introductions of new and improved goods or services; adoption of new or improved business processes; and more. The ABS samples 300,000 employer business and 8,000 nonprofit organizations each year; every five years, 858,000 businesses and nonprofits are surveyed to provide benchmarks for detailed estimates by characteristics of business owners and NAICS codes and at different geographic levels (U.S., state, metropolitan statistical area, county, and economic place).  

Much of the coverage of the 2024 ABS is expected to carry over from 2023 ABS, including:

    • Company information
    • Owner characteristics (sex, race, ethnicity, veteran status, education)
    • New or improved business processes
    • R&D for microbusinesses
    • Research activities at nonprofit organizations
    • Domestic and Foreign Transactions
    • Management Practices

A new section on “Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property” is expected to be added to the 2024 survey. Some 2023 ABS sections are expected to be discontinued:

    • Section F: Financing
    • Section G: Technology and Intellectual Property
    • Section H: Sustainability and Climate Impact
  • For further information, please contact Patrice Hall, Branch Chief, Business Owners Branch,
  • The Federal Register entry can be found here.
  • Written comments can be submitted by November 21, 2023, to

Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (deadline November 28, 2023)

September 29 - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is soliciting comments on proposed revisions to the household component of the 2024 Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS). Conducted since 1996, the MEPS interviews overlapping two-year panels of households, asking questions about health expenditures, health-insurance coverage, health status, and health events. Annual sample sizes are ~13,500 households. Proposed revisions to the survey to take effect in Fall 2024 include:

  • 7 questions added to the core interview on the burden of medical bills, including partial and late bills, contacts with debt collection agencies, and ability to pay for unexpected expenses.
  • Reworded questions about food security to allow for proxy reporting
  • Reworded questions on preventive-care services
  • Questions about sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to be added at the end of the questionnaire
  • Updating the MEPS Experiences with Cancer Survey, with some questions to be replaced by new questions asked of cancer survivors on employment impacts and workplace accommodations; survivorship care; social determinants of health; and social isolation and support.

In addition, a web-based mode of completion will be created as an alternative to the traditional pen-and-paper survey.

  • The Federal Register notice can be found here.
  • For additional information, please contact Doris Lefkowitz, Reports Clearance Officer, AHRQ, at
  • Send written comments by November 28, 2023, to Doris Lefkowitz, Reports Clearance Officer, AHRQ, at

National Institutes of Health – Opportunities and Challenges of Real-World Health Data in NIH-Sponsored Research (deadline December 14, 2023)

September 28 -- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) requests information on the use of “Real-World Data” (RWD) in NIH-supported biomedical and behavioral research. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines RWD as “data relating to patient health status and/or the delivery of health care routinely collected from a variety of sources,” including “data derived from electronic health records, medical claims data, data from product or disease registries, and data gathered from other sources (such as digital health technologies) that can inform on health status.” While RWD have tremendous promise for biomedical and behavioral research, their collection from a variety of sources through multiple mechanisms creates challenges for researchers and questions for those whose data are being shared.

As a matter of providing guidance to NIH as it develops guidelines for the use of RWD in NIH-supported research, NIH solicits information on the following issues and questions:

  1. The scientific value of collecting, using, and sharing RWD in biomedical and behavioral research.
  2. Use of RWD as part of the scientific paradigm, including issues of scientific rigor (reproducibility, validation, verification) and appropriate open-science practices relating to the FAIR principles and data sharing
  3. Administrative and logistical considerations for collecting, using, and sharing RWD, including accessing it through secure enclaves, licensing and restrictions on data use, emerging de-identification technologies, and data storage/sharing considerations.
  4. Ethical considerations, including strategies for protecting participant privacy and autonomy, issues relating to re-identification risks, and ethical implications of data as a “commodity”, in terms of buying and selling personal health data.
  • The Federal Register Notice on this information request can be found here. 
  • Comments should be submitted by December 14, 2023, via this link.