Update on the Statistical Abstract and a new threat to government data

I blogged last month that Statistical Abstract would continue in private hands. Among the unanswered questions were the content and the price of the printed edition to be published by Bernan. I received the following information by e-mail from them today:

ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States Update
As we announced in this newsletter last month, Bernan Press and ProQuest are teaming up to rescue one of libraries’ most valued reference tools by publishing the ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States beginning with the 2013 edition.
We have received several inquiries for details about the new version, and we will be using this monthly newsletter to provide information about the ProQuest Statistical Abstract as well as sharing updates on the progress of the 2013 edition.

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we’ve received:

Q: When will the 2013 edition be published?
A: We are working towards a publication date of late November. Of course, this is subject to change and it could be ready a little earlier or later, but we’re committed to maintaining the publication cycle established over the years for this important reference resource.

Q: What is the price for the 2013 edition?
A: The 2013 edition will have a retail price of $179. Please note that pre-publication discounts and multi-volume discounts are available-discount pricing will range from $143.20 to $161. Standing Order customers will automatically receive the pre-publication discount. Orders can be placed at www.bernan.com, by calling 1-800-865-3457 or emailing order@bernan.com.

Will the new edition contain the same tables as the traditional Statistical Abstract?
A: The 2013 edition will be as close as possible to previous editions, with roughly the same number of tables and valuable, detailed bibliographic documentation, an updated back-of-the-book index, and updated introductory sections. Each edition of the Statistical Abstract is unique, but like the versions previously compiled by the Census Bureau, the editors will adhere to the same methodology and utilize the same sources whenever possible.

Q: How will the new edition compare in the look and feel with the traditional version?
A: The new edition will be identical to previous editions of the Bernan Press Library Edition of the Statistical Abstract. Unlike the 6″x9″ traditional government edition, which came in both hardcover and paperback versions, the new edition will be 8 ½”x11″ hardcover with a sturdy binding designed to withstand heavy use and frequent photocopying in libraries. Importantly, the text and tables will be presented in an easily readable format with 25% larger type than in the previous government editions.

Be sure to read next month’s newsletter where we will address questions regarding the expertise of the editorial staff working on the publication, the integrity of the data and the sources used.

Sounds as if the book will be sturdier and have larger type. That’s nice. However, it will be far more expensive than the current hardcover published by the U.S. Government Printing Office ($44). Bernan’s price ($179 list) puts it beyond the range of the average person. Only libraries will buy it.

A New Threat

Information Today reports that an appropriation bill passed by the House of Representatives would eliminate the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The ACS compiles data from the so-called “long form” filled out by a subset of Americans. It also conducts the Economic Census in between the standard decennial censuses. As Barbie E. Keiser puts it:

By combining the demographic data with industry activity, government programs and businesses can plan how best to spend their funds. Insights on family structure, household and consumer spending habits derived from ACS forms, such as length of commute and mode of transport to/from work, drive new product developments and targeted marketing. The more accurate the data, the better the decisions made, particularly with regard to providing social services at the local level. Republicans, in particular, have disputed the validity of sampling, which may have been a factor in the mostly party line vote on the Census Bureau budget.

The Senate may reinstate ACS’ funding, but that’s by no means certain.

For a more political view of all of this, albeit with quotes from businesspeople and the mainstream media, see: this Daily Kos article.

New U.S. Water Quality Portal #waterquality

A new Water Quality Portal [waterqualitydata.us] was released by agencies of the U.S. federal government on May 1.

What is the WQP:

The Water Quality Portal (WQP) is a cooperative service sponsored by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC) that integrates publicly available water quality data from the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) and the EPA STOrage and RETrieval (STORET) Data Warehouse.

The EPA water quality data originate from the STORET Data Warehouse, which is the EPA’s repository of water quality monitoring data collected by water resource management groups across the country. Organizations, including states, tribes, watershed groups, other federal agencies, volunteer groups and universities, submit data to the STORET Warehouse in order to make their data publicly accessible. For more information about STORET, see the STORET Home Page.

The USGS water quality data originate from the NWISWeb Database. The database contains current and historical water data from more than 1.5 million sites across the nation and is used by state and local governments, public and private utilities, private citizens, and other federal agencies involved with managing our water resources. For more information on what data are available and how NWIS data are mapped to the Water Quality Exchange (WQX) format, visit NWIS Water Quality Web Services.

More from the USGS:

The Portal provides a single, user-friendly web interface showing where water quality information is available from federal, state, tribal and other water partners. It reduces the burden to data users searching, compiling, and formatting water monitoring data for analysis, and provides scientists, policy-makers, and the public with a single web interface to query data stored in STORET and NWIS.

Data users can choose from a variety of filters including geographic and sample parameters, to narrow down the dataset by state, county, organization, watershed, and sites of interest. Downloaded data can be served out in comma-separated, tab-separated, MS Excel, Keyhole Markup Language (KML) and Extensible Markup Language (XML) file formats.

The Portal utilizes the common nomenclature known as the Water Quality Exchange (WQX) to retrieve data from NWIS and STORET and publish it in a consistent format. The Portal is designed to support additional data sources that are integrated with the WQX template. EPA offers a web-based data entry tool called WQX-Web that enables data owners to upload their data for use by the Portal.

Future enhancements to the portal include the development of the Portal’s interface, web services, and compatibility with popular mapping tools.