State Survey: Socioeconomic Data in Federal Decision Making

In support of its ongoing efforts to strengthen the utilization of state and local data in federal decision-making processes, the Western Governors’ Association would like to better understand the ways in which state and local socioeconomic data and information is shared with, and utilized by, federal agencies. 

Various federal statutes, regulations and policies direct federal agencies to examine the social and/or economic effects, benefits, or impacts of proposed actions or plans. Federal programs, including those administered by states, also frequently require the development of metrics to evaluate outcomes. The socioeconomic data required to make such analyses come from numerous sources of social science, including sociology and anthropology (describing communities and values), economics (analyzing goods, services, and management of resources), and geography (identifying the human uses of places and landscapes). 

Effective socioeconomic analysis often requires the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of federal and non-federal sources. State and local governments often serve as a primary source of socioeconomic data, as well as other data and information, relied upon by federal agencies to fulfill their missions. States’ status as both sovereignties and as administrators of numerous federal programs distinguishes them from other non-federal sources of data. 


Federal agencies increasingly rely on real-time data for evidence-based policymaking, improved service delivery, more effective resource management, more responsive regulatory enforcement, and more accurate measurement of program and policy performance and effectiveness. 

Several recent federal regulatory actions, including the Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act and a new Federal Data Strategy, demonstrate that modernizing data-sharing infrastructure, increasing public access to federally utilized data, and ensuring the protection of private and sensitive data have emerged as priorities of the federal government. These actions are spurring changes to federal data policies and protocols that will likely have considerable long-term implications on state-federal data exchange and states should play a significant part in the process. 

In Western Governors’ Association Policy Resolution 2021-02, Utilizing State Data in Federal Decision Making, Western Governors ask Congress and the Executive Branch to work with states toward the modernization of our nation’s data infrastructure and intergovernmental data-sharing and analysis capabilities. This includes consulting with states ‒ on a government-to-government basis ‒ in the development and implementation of policies, programs and strategies to more effectively and consistently incorporate state data into federal decision-making processes.

Survey Instructions

Please answer the following questions to further our understanding of how state governments share various socioeconomic data with federal agencies and how that process, and the federal utilization of such information, can be improved. 

Responses are requested by March 31 but will be accepted after that date. You do not need to answer every question to submit your survey. You may answer “Not Applicable” or leave the response blank.

If you have questions or would like to speak to someone directly about these topics, please contact Lauren DeNinno at [email protected].

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