No agency within HHS has distinct administrative authority and responsibility for the collection and development of data relevant to social welfare and human service policies and programs. This administrative gap is a major reason for many of the inadequacies in the data infrastructure for monitoring and evaluating welfare policies.
The federal government should be responsible for ensuring that high-quality and comparable data on human service and social welfare programs and populations are collected so that the well-being of the low income population can be monitored and so that high-quality evaluations of the effects of welfare reform can be conducted.
The panel recommends that an organizational entity be identified or created within HHS and that this entity be assigned direct administrative responsibility and authority for carrying out statistical functions and data collection for social welfare programs and the populations they serve. The entity should also coordinate data collection and analysis activities between states and the federal government.