In addition to the significant benefits outlined above, an effort to consolidate HHS surveys involves significant risks, including:
• The large overall budget for the Consolidated Survey serves as a more noticeable target for budget reductions.
• In a consolidated environment, if any of the components fall behind for any reason (e.g., funding or clearance is delayed, operational problems, etc.), all of the other components are affected. The budgets for each component will be more dependent on each other, and competing demands for the NHIS sample will make it important to keep to a rigorous planning schedule.
• There is the potential to over-consolidate, which may create a structure which yields diminishing returns as a consequence of its magnitude. For some existing data collection efforts, consolidation may prove to be counterproductive. For example, issues of respondent burden and the effects of changes in survey modes need to be researched.
• Although flexibility is a goal of consolidation, the inherent complexity of the consolidated survey will make it difficult to balance competing demands for supplemental questionnaires, special analyses, and unexpected uses of the sample.