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Dec 14 -- The U.S. Census Bureau seeks OMB approval for the Annual Capital Expenditures Survey for 2020-2022 and invites public comment to OMB by January 13, 2021.
 
Data on the amount of business expenditures for new plants and equipment and measures of the stock of existing facilities are critical to evaluating productivity growth, the ability of U.S. business to compete with foreign business, changes in industrial capacity, and overall economic performance. The ACES is the sole source of detailed comprehensive statistics on investment in buildings and other structures, machinery, and equipment by private nonfarm businesses in the United States.
 
Changes from the previous ACES authorization are the collection of content related to the Coronavirus Pandemic and the presence of robotic equipment and investment in robotic equipment by industry segment from employer businesses. The objective of adding questions related to the Coronavirus Pandemic is to measure the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on businesses and to 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.
 
Beginning with the 2020 ACES, the U.S. Census Bureau plans to collect the presence of robotic equipment and investment in robotic equipment by industry segment. This will improve the data quality by providing researchers and other data users better information about which industries are using technology. This will enable researchers and other data users to better use this survey as a vehicle for continual monitoring of technology and the workforce.  
 
The detailed capital expenditures data, collected every five years, were collected in the 2017 ACES and will be collected again in the 2022 ACES.
 
The objectives of the ACES are:

(a)    to provide estimates of capital expenditures for all private nonfarm sectors of the economy by 3-digit and selected 4-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) levels;

(b)    to base the survey on a probability sample that yields measures of the statistical reliability of the survey estimates;

(c)    to provide a base survey to benchmark more frequent surveys on capital expenditures that do not have complete industry coverage;

(d)    to produce annual enterprise-level data with the level of detail, coverage, and quality which previously was only available as part of the quinquennial economic census;

(e)    to provide detail on capital expenditures for estimating the national income and product accounts, estimating the productivity of U.S. industries, evaluating fiscal and monetary policy, and conducting research using capital expenditures data; and

(f)    to provide industry analysts with capital expenditures data for market analysis, economic forecasting, identifying business opportunities, product development, and business planning.

ACES webpage  https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/aces.html
ACES submission to OMB https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202012-0607-004  Click on IC List for survey forms, View Supporting Statement for uses, plans, methods, and timeline
FR notice inviting comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/12/14/2020-27462/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-to-the-office-of-management-and-budget-omb-for
 
Points of contact:   
Within the Economic Statistical Methodology Division of the Economic Directorate of the U.S. Census Bureau, James W. Hunt, acting Methodology Director for Retail Wholesale & Services Programs, is responsible for directing the development of the methodology such as sample design, estimation, variance estimation, and treatment of non-response. James Hunt can be reached on (301) 763-6599 or James.W.Hunt@census.gov.

Within the Economy-Wide Statistics Division of the Economic Directorate of the U.S. Census Bureau, Valerie Mastalski, Chief of the Capital Expenditures Branch, is responsible for directing the development of the survey content and the survey processing and for coordinating the survey design to meet the survey objectives. Valerie Mastalski can be reached on (301) 763-3317 or Valerie.Cherry.Mastalski@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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