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Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Gemini Project to Redesign the Consumer Expenditure Surveys

The Gemini Project was launched to research and develop a redesign of the Consumer Expenditure (CE) surveys, addressing issues of measurement error and respondent burden. In July 2013, a redesign proposal was approved, outlining the future direction of the CE survey. More information on the history of the Gemini Project is available on this page under Gemini Background. Documents related to the Gemini project can be found at the CE library by filtering on the "Gemini" column.

Latest Updates on the Redesign

Overview of the CE Redesign

The original Gemini Project consisted of a single sample design with two interviews per wave and a diary keeping week in between. Each household member over the age of 15 was to complete an individual diary. Each household was to be interviewed twice, one year apart. The design featured online diaries with a paper backup. To emphasize record use, the redesign plan was to split one interview into 2 shorter interviews to redistribute burden, a recall and a records interview. The design featured both token and conditional incentives.

The original redesign is described in "Consumer Expenditure Survey: Redesign Proposal" prepared by the Gemini Design team. Click here for a graphic of the original redesign.

As the design was tested in various field tests, we found that:

  1. Fielding costs were higher than expected.
  2. The redesign plan would cost more than the current survey.
  3. Some redesign elements such as individual diaries and conditional monetary incentives were not supported strongly in the field tests.

As of 2018, we changed direction and moved to a phased implementation of the redesign plan to maintain effective design elements and implement them directly into the Consumer Expenditure Interview and Diary surveys.

Key features of the phased implementation plan:

  • Many of the original design elements of the Gemini Project are being retained including:
    • online diaries which can be accessed on web and mobile platforms
    • a streamlined questionnaire with a focus on record use
    • a token incentive for participation and a conditional incentive for the use of records

  • The plan for a single sample design has been put on hold, pending changes to requirements and/or additional funding and further testing.

  • Online diaries are being tested in the Large Scale Feasibility Test of Online Diaries (LSF) in 2019-2020. Online diaries will be implemented in the Consumer Expenditure Diary Survey in 2022, pending results from the LSF testing.

  • A streamlined questionnaire with a focus on record use is being developed at BLS for the Consumer Expenditure Interview Survey and the expected implementation date is 2023. This questionnaire will focus on facilitating the use of records, aggregating questions to reduce burden, and reorganizing certain sections to improve the flow of the questionnaire.

The timeline for the Gemini Project has been revised to reflect the phased implementation plan for the redesign. More information on the original redesign plan, results of various tests of the redesign plan, and the current plan for phased implementation are discussed in this presentation: An Introduction to the CE Redesign. The timeline for the project is shown in the figure below:

Gemini Background

The Gemini Project to redesign the CE survey was launched in 2009, and the redesign plan was approved in 2013. The documents below provide more information on the history of the Gemini Project including the final report of the CNSTAT panel on redesigning the Consumer Expenditure Surveys. Other documents related to the background of the Gemini Project can be found in the CE library.

  1. Project Vision Document - Revised for 2015
  2. OPLC Requirements for the Consumer Expenditure Survey
  3. CNSTAT report: "Measuring What We Spend: Toward a New Consumer Expenditure Survey"
  4. Gemini Research Agenda
  5. CE Data Quality Definition Report

Several field tests have been conducted since 2013 to test various elements of the redesign. Details on those tests can be found on the Gemini Field Test page.


Questions or comments about the redesign? Contact us at

Last Modified Date: May 19, 2020