President Obama's proposed budget includes provisions key to the survey, opinion and research profession: programs that potentially threaten research companies using respondent incentives; and a budget increase for the Census.
The president requested more than $980 million for the Census for fiscal year 2014. Data from the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS) are used to ensure the statistical validity of almost all research in the United States.
"Congress has a long history of shortchanging the funding of the Census early each decade, when research and preparation are essential, and then shoveling in emergency funding just before the end-of-decade count," observed Howard Fienberg, PLC, director of government affairs for the Marketing Research Association (MRA). "We urge them to fully fund the Census now to save money later."
The president also proposed Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service programs to investigate and deter the "misclassification" of employees as independent contractors and to effectively eliminate the independent contractor protections provided by Section 530 of the tax code.
"Federal regulatory agencies have proven skeptical about, if not hostile to, research respondents’ status as independent contractors for the last few years," continued Fienberg. "These proposals represent a potential threat to every research company using respondent incentives, where they all might have to treat respondents as employees, unnecessarily increasing costs and making it even harder to attract respondents. We urge Congress to support the common sense Research Fairness Act and to counter the White House's targeting of independent contractors."
The White House’s proposed budget was released on April 10.
Read more about the President's budget request for the Census Bureau.
Read more about the President's budget proposals targeting respondent incentives.