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Evaluation of Prospective Costs and Benefits of Standards for Statistical Programs

John L. Eltinge


Standards often have an important role in the development, adoption and diffusion of many types of technology. This paper considers statistical survey methodology as a form of technology, and uses the resulting conceptual framework to explore several ways in which to evaluate the prospective costs and benefits of standards for statistical programs. The conceptual framework places primary emphasis on types of standards; methods for calibration; methods for application and enforcement; special issues in statistical standards; and special issues for government-sponsored surveys. This framework leads to discussion of prospective benefits, costs and risks of standards. The paper closes with comments on practical implications of these general ideas for development, implementation and enforcement of standards; training and management of statistical program personnel; and communication.