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Sept 10 -- The U.S. Census Bureau invites public comments on its plans to conduct the 2020 through 2022 Annual Capital Expenditures Survey (ACES).  Comments should be submitted by November 9, 2020.
ACES collects data on fixed assets and depreciation, sales and receipts, capitalized computer software, capitalized robotic equipment and capital expenditures for new and used structures and equipment. The ACES is the sole source of detailed comprehensive statistics on actual business spending for private non-farm companies, organizations, and associations operating in the United States. Both employer and non-employer companies are included in the survey.
 Planned changes in ACES:

A. Content related to the Coronavirus Pandemic:  The primary objective is to measure the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on businesses and the economy, and meet the needs of the data user community. As we continue in these unprecedented times, the Coronavirus Pandemic content may shift, change or evolve and require further modifications on ACES.
a. Add a question asking if the business received financial assistance through a federal, state, or local relief program.  (If yes, what percent of the financial assistance was spent on payroll, rent/mortgage, utilities, capital expenditures, other.)
b. Add a question seeking impact on payrolls in the absence of financial assistance (i.e., reduced hours, reduced pay, reduced staff, other).
c. Add a question asking if the business experienced a change in capital expenditure plans.
d. Add a question asking if the business's capital expenditures funded safety/social distancing investments.

B. Revisions related to integrating annual surveys: The Census Bureau is undertaking an initiative to integrate and re-engineer select annual programs. Programs include the Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM), Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS), Annual Wholesale Trade Survey (AWTS), Services Annual Survey (SAS), Annual Capital Expenditures Survey (ACES), Manufacturing Shipments Inventories and Unfilled Orders (M3UFO), and Company Organizational Survey (COS). Efforts include coordinating collection strategies/instruments/communication; integrating, changing or revising content; ensuring content is relevant; coordinating samples; and improving frame and coordinating status updates across annual surveys.

The initiative to integrate and re-engineer select annual programs is scheduled to begin implementation in survey year 2023. The goal is to shift select annual programs from individual independent surveys to a streamlined integrated annual program. The new annual program will move from industry focused, individual surveys to requesting a more holistic view of the companies. Prior to survey year 2023, we plan to begin to align our annual programs and improve efficiencies across programs in targeted areas related to consistent content, processes, and systems. The initiative is in response to data user needs (timely, granular, harmonized data), and declining response rates.  
C. Robotic equipment expenditures were first collected from employer businesses on the 2018 ACES. Expenditures for both industrial and service robotics were collected at the company level and assigned to the company's primary industry. The U.S. Census Bureau plans to modify the 2020 ACES to collect the presence of robotic equipment and investment by industry segment.  

D. Burden (only requested of non-employers).
a. Add a question requesting the amount of time it took to complete the non-employer survey.
ACES website:  https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/aces.html   
2019 ACES questionnaire: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/aces/technical-documentation/questionnaires.2019.html
Draft new questions for 2020 ACES: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5uk3boe3ra18fo3/2020%20Annual%20Capital%20Expenditures%20Survey%20New%20Content.docx?dl=0  
FR Notice:   https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/10/2020-19988/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-to-the-office-of-management-and-budget-omb-for
Point of contact: Valerie Mastalski, Chief, Capital Expenditures Branch, Economy-Wide Statistics Division, U.S. Census Bureau  (301) 763-3317, or Valerie.Cherry.Mastalski@Census.gov.

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