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Aug 23 -- The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Department of Commerce, invites comments to OMB by September 22, 2023 regarding the NTIA Internet Use Survey aka the CPS Computer and Internet Use Supplement.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) respectfully requests OMB’s review and approval of revisions to a currently approved collection known as the NTIA Internet Use Survey. Renewal will allow the U.S. Census Bureau (Census or the Bureau) to incorporate these questions on computer and Internet use as a supplement to the November 2023 Current Population Survey (CPS). The subject information collection was fielded in its current form in November 2021, and previous iterations of the survey have been commissioned by NTIA and administered by Census periodically since 1994. Data from the NTIA Internet Use Survey are used to help understand the state of the digital divide and other important Internet policy challenges. In addition to supporting evidence-based policymaking, NTIA uses the resulting data in a number of publications. Furthermore, Census prepares a public use dataset for each survey that both NTIA and Census publish on their websites for use by external researchers and other interested members of the public.

Data from the NTIA internet Use Survey will be used to help inform federal policies related to digital equity and other internet-related issues. As required by law, 47 U.S.C. 1723(d)(3)(A)(i), certain estimates from this data collection will be used as inputs into the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program funding formula. More generally, NTIA will use the data both in relevant publications and to help inform policymakers. Additionally, a public use dataset that protects respondent confidentiality will be created by the Census Bureau and made available by both agencies for use by researchers and other members of the public.
President Biden has made clear the Administration’s goal is to ensure that “every community in America has access to affordable, high-speed Internet.” Further, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo has observed that “high-quality, affordable broadband isn’t a luxury, but it’s a necessity for education, jobs, and healthcare.” Digitally connected Americans populate the modern workforce, drive creative innovation throughout the economy, and ensure a growing customer base to help sustain our nation’s global competitiveness.
The NTIA Internet Use Survey will aid the Administration’s efforts to achieve digital equity, helping to inform decisions about policies and funding related to broadband deployment, affordability, adoption, and digital skills. The research and policy analysis enabled by this data collection are particularly important in light of the historic investments being made through the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All programs, and following a pandemic that has further highlighted the importance of the Internet in daily life. NTIA is working with Congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), other federal agencies, state and local governments, industry, and nonprofits to develop and promote policies that foster ubiquitous broadband deployment, adoption, and effective use. Collecting current, systematic, and comprehensive information on Internet use and non-use by U.S. households is critical to enabling policymakers to gauge progress made to date and identify specific areas and demographic groups in which adoption is a concern with a specificity that permits carefully targeted and cost-effective responses.

The U.S. government has a pressing need for comprehensive data in this area. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), NTIA, and the FCC have issued reports noting the importance of useful broadband data for policymakers. Moreover, Congress has passed legislation – including the Broadband Data Improvement Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Broadband DATA Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and most recently, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – wholly or in part to facilitate data collection, research, and policy analysis in this area. Modifying the CPS to include NTIA’s requested Internet use questions will enable the Commerce Department and NTIA to respond to congressional concerns and directives. It will also enable NTIA to continue using timely data in the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program, which employs a funding formula that by law must be based in part on estimates from the NTIA Internet Use Survey.

Since 1994, NTIA has sponsored 16 supplements to the CPS on the Internet and the shifting technologies Americans use for online access. NTIA proposes to add 65 questions to the November 2023 edition of the Census Bureau’s CPS to gather reliable data on broadband and computer use by U.S. households.

Although NTIA has at times in the past sponsored the NTIA Internet Use Survey annually, NTIA, in consultation with the Bureau, has decided to implement an every-two-year timetable (funding permitting) not only to allow sufficient time intervals but to ensure that the data stay reasonably current with the rapidly changing technological landscape of computer and Internet use.  Starting with the 2017 edition of the survey, NTIA has planned to sponsor a data collection in every November of odd numbered years, which will avoid the seasonal differences that may have been reflected in NTIA’s past July and October CPS supplements. The two most recent surveys were fielded in November 2019 and November 2021, and NTIA will sponsor the next survey in November 2023. In addition to the aforementioned benefits of continuing on this schedule, a 2023 edition of the survey will enable NTIA to use updated estimates of Internet and device use in future Notices of Funding Opportunity for the ongoing State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program.

The Federal Register Notice soliciting public comment was published on June 2, 2023 (Vol. 88, p. 36,282). NTIA received 17 comments in response to the notice. The comments largely focused on the content of the proposed supplemental questions, with only a few alluding to the cost and burden of the NTIA Internet Use Survey. (See Attachment A-2, Summary of Comments, for NTIA’s comment summary and response https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=134500500 ; see also Attachments C1-C17 to view the comments received by NTIA.)

NTIA Internet Use Survey: https://ntia.gov/topics/data-central
NTIA submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202308-0660-001 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-18079

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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