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Nov 21 -- The Census Bureau invites comments on the proposed new survey, the Annual Integrated Economic Survey (AIES), prior to the submission of the information collection request (ICR) to OMB for approval. To ensure consideration, comments regarding this proposed information collection must be received on or before January 20, 2023. [Note: This comment request runs parallel to the recent Census Bureau request for comment on AIES posted at https://www.aeaweb.org/forum/3206/integrated-economic-survey-replace-surveys-invites-comment]

The Census Bureau plans to conduct the AIES on an annual basis, beginning for survey year 2023 (collected in calendar year 2024) and a Dress Rehearsal for the AIES for survey year 2022 (collected in calendar year 2023). The AIES is a new survey designed to integrate and replace seven existing annual business surveys into one survey. The AIES will provide the only comprehensive national and subnational data on business revenues, expenses, and assets on an annual basis. The AIES is designed to combine Census Bureau collections to reduce respondent burden, increase data quality, and allow the Census Bureau to operate more efficiently to reduce costs. The existing collections integrated into the AIES are the Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS), Annual Wholesale Trade Survey (AWTS), Service Annual Survey (SAS), Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM), Annual Capital Expenditures Survey (ACES), Manufacturer's Unfilled Orders Survey (M3UFO), and the Report of Organization.
Estimates currently published in ARTS, AWTS, SAS, ASM, and ACES will be produced as part of the AIES and expanded to include subnational data across the economy. Previously, the ASM (manufacturing) was the only annual survey being integrated into AIES that produced subnational data. AIES will produce subnational data for manufacturing, retail, wholesale, and service sectors if quality standards are met. The AIES information previously collected on the Report of Organization will continue to be used to update the Business Register, and the AIES data previously collected on the M3UFO will continue to be used for the Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders (M3) Survey benchmarking purposes. Data users will be able to access the AIES estimates through the use of visualizations and data.census.gov.

Private businesses, organizations, industry analysts, educators and students, and economic researchers have used the data and estimates provided by these seven existing collections for analyzing and conducting impact evaluations on past and current economic performance, short-term economic forecasts, productivity, long-term economic growth, market analysis, tax policy, capacity utilization, business fixed capital stocks and capital formation, domestic and international competitiveness trade policy, product development, market research, and financial analysis. Trade and professional organizations have used the estimates to analyze industry trends and benchmark their own statistical programs, develop forecasts, and evaluate regulatory requirements.

Government program officials and agencies will use AIES data for research, economic policy making, and forecasting:

-- Based on the use of the data of the existing collections, estimates produced from the AIES will serve as a benchmark for Census Bureau indicator programs, such as the Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services (MARTS), the Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS), Manufacturers' Shipments Inventories & Orders (M3), Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey (MWTS), and the Quarterly Services Survey (QSS).
-- Like the previous collections, the AIES will provide updates to the Longitudinal Research Database (LRD), and Census Bureau staff and academic researchers with special sworn status will continue to use the LRD for micro data analysis. The Census Bureau will also continue to use information collected in the AIES to update and maintain the centralized, multipurpose Business Register that provides sampling populations and enumeration lists for the Census Bureau's economic surveys and censuses.
-- The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will continue to use the estimates to derive industry output for the input-output accounts and for the gross domestic product (GDP).
-- We expect that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will continue to use the data as input to its Producer Price Index (PPI) and in developing productivity measurements; the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) will continue to use the data to prepare the Index of Industrial Production, to improve estimates of investment indicators for monetary policy, and in monitoring retail credit lending; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will continue to use the data to estimate expenditures for the National Health Accounts and for monitoring and evaluating healthcare industries; and the Department of the Treasury will continue use the data to analyze depreciation and to research economic trends.

The AIES covers domestic, nonfarm employer businesses with operations during the survey year. Non-employer businesses are not within the scope of this new AIES. The Census Bureau will submit a separate request for approval to collect data from non-employer businesses, if it is determined that a collection is needed to produce those estimates.

The AIES will collect the following information from employer businesses in sample:

—Business characteristics, including employment, operating status, organizational change, ownership information, and co-op status
—Business classification, including business activity, type of operation, and tax status
—Revenue, including sales, shipments, and receipts, revenue by class of customer, taxes, contributions, gifts, and grants, products, and e-commerce activity
—Operating expenses, including purchased services, payroll, benefits, rental payments, utilities, interest, resales, equipment, materials and supplies, research and development, and other detailed operating expenses
—Assets, including capital expenditures, inventories, and depreciable assets
—Robotic equipment

Additional topics of collections in the AIES include sources of revenue for providers (e.g., hospitals and other businesses in the health industry) of select services such as inpatient days, outpatient visits to hospitals, patient visits for other selected health industries, revenue from telemedicine services, and expenses for electronic health records. Product data will be collected from businesses operating in manufacturing and services industries. Merchandise lines data will be collected from businesses operating in select retail industries will collect merchandise lines data. Detailed inventories will be collected for trucks, truck tractors, and trailers.

The AIES may include new questions each year based on relevant business topics. Potential topics for such new questions could include technological advances, management and business practices, exporting practices, and globalization. Any new questions will be submitted to OMB for review using the appropriate clearance vehicle.

In 2020 and 2021, research was conducted on the potential impacts of a coordinated collection of SAS, ARTS, and AWTS. This coordinated collection research was designed to investigate the impact of implementing the existing contact strategy that encompassed multiple survey requests. Following this coordinated collection research effort, approximately 19 interviews were conducted with nonrespondents, and 35 interviews were conducted with respondents. In 2021, AIES data accessibility and recordkeeping studies were conducted with about 60 companies. In 2022, a pilot AIES survey was administered to 78 companies, including 2,863 establishments, to test the respondent experience; the pilot AIES survey focused on the layout and design of the collection instrument and harmonized content. From the pilot survey, 10 interviews were conducted with respondents, and 15 Response Analysis Surveys (RAS) were completed by respondents. Cognitive testing encompassing survey structure, instrument design, and respondent reporting process was conducted with about 40 companies in 2022. Usability testing on the electronic collection instrument will be conducted with up to 30 companies at the end of 2022 and will continue into 2023. A Phase II pilot will be conducted in February 2023 with approximately 562 companies. Phase II will follow the same model as the first pilot with debriefing interviews and a response analysis survey planned. In the Spring of 2023, we also plan to conduct Large Firm Response Research with up to 35 of the largest firms in the AIES sample. All the afore-mentioned work has been, or will be, conducted under the Census Bureau's Generic clearance for Field Tests and Evaluations (OMB# 0607-0971) or the Generic Clearance for Questionnaire Pretesting Research (OMB# 0607-0725).

In June of 2023, the Census Bureau plans to conduct a Dress Rehearsal for the AIES with up to 10,000 companies. The Dress Rehearsal will be large-scale test of the forms and procedures planned for the AIES. The Dress rehearsal will allow us to examine patterns of non-response and to determine what additional support respondents will need. We will also compare the quality of responses received to historic data collected in the 7 surveys the AIES will replace. Up to 30 debriefing interviews with respondents will also be conducted.

After conclusion of the Dress Rehearsal, and based on refinements made to forms and procedures, the Census Bureau will begin conducting the full-scale AIES in 2024. The AIES will select a stratified sequential random sample of 380,199 companies from a frame of approximately 5.4 million companies constructed from the Business Register, which is the Census Bureau's master business list. Data will be released beginning in July 2025.

The AIES will replace the ARTS, AWTS, SAS, ASM, ACES, M3UFO, and the Report of Organization in survey year 2023, at which time the Census Bureau will discontinue these collections.

The AIES Dress Rehearsal conducted for survey year 2022 and the AIES conducted for survey year 2023 and beyond will be collected using Centurion, the Census Bureau's secure online survey collection tool. Respondents will receive an email and/or letter notifying them of their requirement to respond and how to access the survey. Responses will be due approximately 30 days from receipt. Select businesses will receive a due date reminder via a letter or email prior to the due date. Additionally, email follow-ups and up to three mail follow-ups to nonrespondents will be conducted at approximately one-month intervals. Selected nonrespondents will receive a priority class mailing for the third follow-up if needed. Selected nonrespondents will also receive follow-up telephone calls.

AIES slide deck (12.9.22) https://apps.bea.gov/fesac/meetings/2022-12-09/Metcalf-Watkins-FESAC-AIES-Slide-Deck.pdf
Draft AIES data collection instrument and technical documentation: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/m0ie8eippguma4dn37dr6/h?dl=0&rlkey=vefm7nurzt60vcofdgcsv205p
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-25312

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