Census Bureau seeks comment on Business Enterprise Research & Development survey

July 08, 2021

When planning and evaluating programs and policies in local and regional innovation economies, a key measure is the amount of private business research and development (R&D) activity taking place, typically found in the Business Enterprise Research & Development Survey (BERD). The Census Bureau, in cooperation with the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), is seeking public comment on planned updates to the BERD survey. BERD is instrumental in the federal government’s duties to calculate national gross domestic product, setting policy at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, and also informs researchers from academia, industry, and the nonprofit sector.

As required by law, the Census Bureau has released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking information from the public on the proposed changes and structure to BERD for the 2021-2023 cycle. Specifically, the Census Bureau will use information from the RFI to:

  • Evaluate whether the proposed information collection is necessary, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • Evaluate the accuracy of the time estimate and cost burden for the proposed collection, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Evaluate ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and,
  • Minimize the reporting burden on those who are to respond.

The Census Bureau conducts the BERD survey and distributes the results to the NCSES where it is made publicly available. For the 2021-2023 cycle, the Census Bureau plans to reintroduce questions related to the detail of R&D paid for by companies but performed by others, activities in partnership with academia, the industries of businesses, specific federal agency funding, and the areas of R&D application.

BERD was started in 2018, in conjunction with the Annual Business Survey (ABS), and continues the role of previous surveys, the Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) active from 2008 to 2016, and the Business Research and Development Survey (BRDS) active from 2017 to 2018. Data on innovation activity were housed in BRDIS until its discontinuation, then moved to BERD. The Census Bureau now plans on moving questions related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and other innovation metrics from the BERD to the ABS.

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, due by Aug. 27, by email to Thomas.J.Smith@census.gov.

data collection, r&d