The Statistical Official for the Department of Labor is the Commissioner of Labor Statistics, who leads the Department’s independent statistical agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS measures labor market activity, working conditions, price changes, and productivity in the U.S. economy to support public and private decision-making. The Statistical Official is available to provide guidance to all Department agencies engaged in statistical activities.
BLS adheres to a set of values and principles that guide us in fulfilling our mission, including:
- We execute our mission with independence from partisan interests
- We strive to meet the needs of a diverse set of customers for accurate, objective, relevant, timely, and accessible information
- We protect the confidentiality of our data providers
- We employ innovative methods to keep pace with the rapidly-changing economy
- We support our staff and are good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.
For more information about future plans, visit the BLS Strategic Plan.
- The Statistical Official ensures that the Department’s statistical function adheres to the rigorous standards in the Confidential Information Protection And Statistical Efficiency Act (Title 3 of the Evidence Act), including that the Bureau of Labor Statistics will protect the confidential of respondents and the information they provide, and will coordinate with the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis to improve the sharing of economic data.
Highlighted Evidence-Building Activities
Title III of the Evidence Act includes guidance for BLS on the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) and Statistical Policy Directive No. 1.
CIPSEA, which was updated as part of the Evidence Act, states that information acquired by the BLS under a pledge of confidentiality must be used by BLS employees and agents for statistical purposes only. BLS is strongly committed to protecting the confidentiality of information provided by respondents and to ensuring that it is used only for statistical purposes. This pledge of confidentiality means that only BLS employees and its sworn agents, such as contract employees or employees of state agencies working on statistical programs under BLS agreements, will ever have access to respondent information. The limitations on use of the data for statistical purposes means that BLS will combine respondent information to produce descriptions, estimates, and analyses regarding the state of the economy without identifying the individual information received from respondents. Under CIPSEA, any BLS employee or agent who knowingly and willfully discloses identifiable respondent information to someone not authorized to receive it, is subject to imprisonment for not more than 5 years and fines of not more than $250,000, or both.
Statistical Policy Directive No. 1
The Office of Management and Budget issues a variety of Statistical Policy Directives. Statistical Policy Directive No. 1 – Fundamental Responsibilities of Federal Statistical Agencies and Recognized Statistical Units – was originally issued in 2014 and is now codified under the Evidence Act.
Statistical Policy Directive No. 1 requires Federal statistical agencies to function in an environment that is clearly separate and autonomous from other administrative, regulatory, law enforcement, or policy-making activities within their respective Departments. Specifically, the autonomy relates to the physical security and information security employed to protect confidential data and which methods to apply in estimation procedures and data analysis. In short, we must seek to avoid even the appearance that agency processes may be manipulated. The directive established four main responsibilities:
- Produce and disseminate relevant and timely information: The core mission of Federal statistical agencies and recognized statistical units is to produce relevant and timely statistical information to inform decision-makers in governments, businesses, institutions, and households.
- Conduct credible and accurate statistical activities: Federal statistical agencies and recognized statistical units apply sound statistical methods to ensure statistical products are accurate through regularly evaluating the data and information products they publicly release against the OMB Government-wide Information Quality Guidelines.
- Conduct objective statistical activities: It is paramount that Federal statistical agencies and recognized statistical units produce data that are impartial, clear, and complete and are readily perceived as such by the public.
- Protect the trust of information providers by ensuring the confidentiality and exclusive statistical use of their responses: Maintaining and enhancing the public’s trust in a Federal statistical agency’s or recognized statistical unit’s ability to protect the integrity of the information provided under a pledge of confidentiality is essential for the completeness and accuracy of statistical information as well as the efficiency and burden of its production.
Regulations implementing the directive, as codified by the Evidence Act, are pending.
In addition to overseeing CIPSEA and Statistical Policy Directive No. 1, the role of the Statistical Official is to provide overall statistical guidance to the Department of Labor and its agencies. For example, the Statistical Official reviews all agency Learning Agendas within the Department to ensure that any planned statistical activities follow standard procedures.