Want better industry and tech strategies? We need better data collection, ITIF says

July 08, 2021

The federal government has not developed strategic economic intelligence to understand the competitive position of its traded sectors, and the time is now for a more advanced technology strategy and that will require a better data collection system. That is one of the key takeaways of a recent report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). The report identifies three key areas with major statistical gaps and calls on Congress to fund modernization and expansion of federal statistical agency IT systems.

In the introduction to the report, Robert Atkinson, ITIF president, notes, “If the U.S. government is going to develop more effective policies to spur competitiveness, growth, and opportunity, it will need to support better data collection.”

Atkinson cites years of budget cuts to federal economic data agencies and a disregard of the need for sectoral and firm-level economic data to inform an industrial strategy as part of the challenge facing the country’s national statistical system. A better data system will also be necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of new technology and industry policies and programs, the report states.

Atkinson advocates for Congress to make a one-time appropriation to modernize and expand the current federal system, and then it should increase annual funding on an ongoing bases. Data gaps currently exist in subnational data, international statistics and national statistics. In addition to expanding funding for economic statistics, he also calls for speedier publication of data collection results as opposed to the years it may currently take on some sources, and modernization in the methods of data collection. The full report, Federal Statistical Needs for a National Advanced Industry and Technology Strategy, is available here.

policy recommendations, technology, data collection