WGA County Survey: Socioeconomic Data in Federal Decision Making

The Western Governors’ Association wants to better understand how 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.

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. 

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 WGA’s understanding of how local governments share various socioeconomic data with federal agencies and how that process, and the federal utilization of such information, can be improved.  

You do not need to answer every question to submit your survey – any insights you can share will be much appreciated. Responses are requested by April 23.

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

WGA represents the Governors of the 22 westernmost states and territories, and is an instrument of the Governors for bipartisan policy development, information exchange and collective action on issues of critical importance to the West.

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