Federal File: Statistics Suffering; Clearinghouse for Parents; Bills Approved
Earlier this year, Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell faced a no-win situation. Chapter I allocations to the states were due out on July 1, but his department lacked 1980 Census Bureau poverty data to base those allocations on. He decided instead to use the only data available, which were 12 years old, and soon found himself the defendant in a lawsuit.
A report released this month by the House Government Operations Committee cited Mr. Bell's dilemma as one of the prime examples of the negative effects of budget cuts on government statistics-gathering operations.
According to the report, the Census Bureau has been "profoundly affected by recent cuts."
"Because the statistics generated by the Census Bureau are the basis for so many other statistical activities," the bureau's problems "have quickly become the problem of all users of statistics."
The committee's report also noted that the decline in available statistics has made it difficult for those both within and outside of government to judge the impact of Administration initiatives. Budget cuts, the report noted, "make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to determine the effect of policy changes."
Clearinghouse for Parents
A bill creating a national clearinghouse of computerized information on missing children and youth was signed by the President last week.
The law, known as the Missing Children Act, would allow parents to use the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Criminal Information Center to alert police in jurisdictions throughout the country.
The clearinghouse will also contain listings of the more than 5,000 unidentified bodies of young people found each year.
The program will help provide parents with "peace of mind," said President Reagan as he signed the bill into law on Oct. 12.
The Congress managed to finish a bit of education-related housecleaning before embarking on a recess for the upcoming elections.
The Senate approved the nominations of five people to Education Department posts:
Gary M. Jones, to undersecretary of education; Harry M. Singleton, to assistant secretary for civil rights; Lawrence F. Davenport, to assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education; Gary L. Bauer, to deputy secretary for planning and budget; and Charles L. Heatherly, to deputy undersecretary for management.
The House approved HR 7173, a bill to permit a school-board member to participate in the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, an independent, federally funded organization.
The Congress also passed:
HR 5658, providing federal grants to help schools develop programs to teach students the principles of citizenship.
SJ Res 237, declaring Nov. 14 as National Retired Teachers' Day.
HJ Res 588, naming October as Head Start Awareness Month.