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Dec 9 -- The Census Bureau requests OMB approval for conducting the Service Annual Survey (SAS) with revisions and invites public comments to OMB by January 11, 2021.  
 
The U.S. Census Bureau currently measures the total output of most of the service industries annually in the Service Annual Survey (SAS). This survey currently covers all or portions of: Utilities; Transportation and Warehousing; Information; Finance and Insurance; Real Estate and Rental and Leasing; Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services; Educational Services; Health Care and Social Assistance; Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation; Accommodation and Food Services; and Other Services (except Public Administration) as defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The SAS provides the only official source of annual revenue estimates for the service industries.
 
Collected data include operating revenue for both taxable and tax-exempt firms and organizations, sources of revenue and expenses by type for selected industries, operating expenses, and selected industry-specific items. In addition, e-commerce data is collected for all industries, and export and inventory data are collected for selected industries. The availability of these data greatly improves the quality of the intermediate inputs and value-added estimates in the annual input-output and GDP by industry accounts produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

The Service Annual Survey (SAS) is a sample survey of approximately 78,000 firms having one or more service establishments. The sample size differs from the number of reporting units, which is 93,722, because firms are required to provide separate reports for each industry in which they are engaged. The sample represents a universe of approximately 4.6 million establishments, based on the Census Bureau’s Business Register and Economic Census data.  
 
Beginning in survey year 2020, the operating expenses content on all SAS questionnaires will change to a version that will be used in Economic Census years and non-Economic Census years. This change will aid in creating a consistent survey experience for respondents from year to year and better meet the needs of our data users.
 
To improve data quality, harmonize survey content, and reduce respondent burden, the Service Annual Survey will alter a question asking about organizational change within a company. This question appears as question 3 for respondents in all industries SAS covers. The question inquires about any organizational changes a company experienced during the given year and currently refers to acquisitions, mergers, sales, and divestitures. The revision will alter the question text to include instances where a company ceased operations and would add “ceased operation” as an answer choice. This change would provide additional information about a company's activity in a given year, having the potential to improve data quality. Additionally, the revision would synchronize SAS content with the relevant questions on the Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) and the Annual Wholesale Trade Survey (AWTS), making the surveys more consistent for respondents.

The proposed organizational change question is as follows:

Did this firm experience any acquisitions, sales, mergers, divestitures, and/or ceased operations in 20XX?

Which of the following organizational changes occurred in 20XX?  Check all that apply. If more than one organizational change occurred during the reporting period, explain in 17.
Acquisition
Sale
Merger
Divestiture
Ceased Operation

In addition, with the increased use of telemedicine services during this public health emergency, the Service Annual Survey proposes expanding the scope of questions on telemedicine beyond ambulatory health care providers to include hospitals and nursing homes. Telemedicine is an important mode of service delivery for the healthcare industry, and its importance has increased during the current pandemic. Expanding the collection of data on telemedicine use will support measurement on changes in its adoption during this unprecedented public health emergency. SAS currently asks ambulatory health care providers (NAICS 621) about telemedicine services in relation to patient visits. This proposal will add a question about revenues from telemedicine services for hospitals (NAICS 622) and nursing homes (NAICS 623). Furthermore, to standardize content across industries and provide consistency for respondents, the current telemedicine question asked of the ambulatory health care providers would be revised to match the question being added to the other industries.
 
The proposed telemedicine question is as follows:

7.  REVENUES FROM TELEMEDICINE SERVICES
Telemedicine (TM) services are billable visits that use live interactive audio-video telecommunications to deliver patient health care services by a physician or a practitioner at a remote location.
Include:
•TM revenues from delivering health care services such as evaluating, diagnosing, and/or prescribing treatment.
•TM revenues from facilitating visits at the patient's physical location such as technical support with telecommunications.

A.  Did this firm receive revenues from telemedicine services in 20XX?  
 
B.  Of the total 20XX revenues reported in ⑥, what was the dollar amount (or percentage) that was from the telemedicine services in 20XX?  Please provide an estimate if exact figures are not available.

SAS webpage: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sas.html
SAS package submitted to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202012-0607-002  Click on IC List for survey forms, View Supporting Statement for narrative on uses, plans, methods, and proposed changes.
FR notice inviting comment:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/12/09/2020-27041/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-to-the-office-of-management-and-budget-omb-for
 
Direct questions regarding the planning and implementation of this survey to Edward Watkins, U.S. Census Bureau, (301) 763-4750 or via email at Edward.E.Watkins.III@census.gov. Questions regarding survey methodology should be directed to Katrina Washington, U.S. Census Bureau, (301) 763-7212 or via email at Katrina.T.Washington@census.gov.
 
For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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