Petition Closed

President Obama's 2012 Budget Request to Congress called for the termination of the Statistical Compendia Branch of the US Census Bureau. This means that the Statistical Abstract of the United States, published since 1878 and an important reference tool for finding and locating statistical information, would no longer exist.   Please let Congress know how important it is to fund access to government collected data through this very useful resource...a favorite of librarians everywhere!

Letter to
Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves
Representative Frank Wolf
Senator Tom Carper
and 6 others
Senator Ben Cardin
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Elizabeth Warren
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate
President of the United States
We are deeply concerned that the U.S. Census Bureau's Budget Estimates for Fiscal Year 2012 calls for the termination of the Statistical Compendia Branch which would mean the elimination of the United States Statistical Abstract and all titles produced by that branch (State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, County and City Data Book, USA Counties, Quick Facts). This change represents a barrier to an informed American public, and we urge you to take action to stop this program change.

These long published titles -- and the federal depositories that distribute it to the American public -- are not an earmark, but are critical to the provision of social, economic, and political indicators to the American public and greatly benefit every American in every Congressional district. Without it, librarians, educators, students, private businesses, state and local government officials, the public and your constituents(!) will waste much valuable time looking for statistics in multiple places and compiling longitudinal data.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States is a crucial source in the provision of social, economic, and political indicators to the American public. The Budget Estimates document suggests that the Statistical Abstract is no longer needed due to the “availability elsewhere of much of the information in the statistical abstract”. As a reference publication the Statistical Abstract is valued precisely for aggregating in one convenient location a variety of information sources available elsewhere, thus dramatically lowering the transaction costs to American citizens of locating critical information. The provision of private information not freely available elsewhere is also invaluable.

Published since 1878, this important resource is a staple of librarians in public, academic, and special libraries for its ease of use, comprehensive content, and as a guidebook to statistical sources used by citizens, students, writers, and professional in both business and government.

It would be a disservice to the American public to terminate the Statistical Abstract program. A democratic society is only made possible by an informed citizenry. The multitude of government statistical programs and publications can be difficult, if not impossible, for many members of the public to understand and use. The government must support programs like the Statistical Abstract that enhance the availability and free flow of information to the American public.

Many developed countries throughout the world publish Statistical Abstracts. It is a standard government publication that is universally popular as a tool to understand the state of a nation’s social, political and economic functioning. Terminating the Statistical Abstract program would lower the United States international standing as free and open society that values unfettered access to information.

Even in these trying economic times the Census Bureau must continue to support the mission of the Department of Commerce to “Improve understanding of the US economy, society and environment by providing timely, relevant, trusted and accurate data, standards and services enabling entities to make informed decisions.” The Statistical Abstract program clearly supports this goal by providing a valuable directory to the wealth of statistical information produced by the US government and private sources. While making spending cuts targeting the current federal deficit, we must also be aware of the necessity of upholding the critical American values upon which our nation was founded: a democratic society supported by an informed public.

Please urge the Department of Commerce to reinstate the budget for the Census Bureau's Statistical Compendia Branch and the essential, valuable titles that the Branch provides to the public. Many thanks for your time and your service.