SBB Research Group Explains The Annual Survey Of State And Local Government Finances

While many people are familiar with the United States Census, which is taken every 10 years as mandated by the Constitution, there are actually over 100 different surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau each year. In this educational series, SBB Research Group summarizes key information from about these lesser-known—but highly important—surveys.

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What Is The Annual Survey Of State And Local Government Finances?

The Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances is a survey sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau that collects and provides financial data on a national scale at both the state and local level and records the information using uniform definitions and procedures. It is the only source of comprehensive local government financial data collected nationwide.

Survey data collected reflects information on liabilities, assets, revenues, and expenses categorized by each government function. Examples of government functions surveyed include:

  • Police enforcement
  • Fire protection
  • Financial administration
  • Central staff services
  • Judicial and legal branches
  • Highways
  • Public welfare
  • Solid waste management
  • Parks and recreation
  • Water supply
  • Gas supply
  • Correctional facilities
  • Air transportation
  • Transit
  • Housing and community development
  • Health and hospitals
  • Cities
  • Dependent agencies

How The Annual Survey Of State And Local Government Finances Is Used

There are many consumers of the data collected from the Annual Survey of State of Local Government Finances, including Congress, state and local governments, federal agencies, education and research organizations, and the public. Examples of how these members may use the data include:

  • Fiscal policy and public research/analysis
  • Comparison studies of finances at the state and local government levels
  • Research for legislation
  • How to allocate specific federal grant funds
  • Generation of personal income figures for county and state regions
  • Creation of income accounts for the nation
  • Government estimates for the gross domestic product (GDP)

Frequency Of Survey

The Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances is collected every year, beginning in 1957. The way the data is surveyed may vary from year to year. In particular, the census is surveyed every five years (in the years ending in “2” and “7”). In the off years, a sample is used to collect data from both state and local governments. The sample population is determined every five years in years ending in “4” and “9.”

The survey year is calculated using government fiscal years, which spans from July 1 of the previous year to June 30 of the current year. For example, the survey year of 2020 spans government fiscal calendars that were from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

How Survey Information Is Collected

The survey is conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau. The following sample timeline reflects the overall data collection process:

  • November Initial mail-out
  • December Due date reminder
  • January Follow-up mail-out #1
  • February Follow-up mail-out #2
  • April-May Telephone follow-up

There are three methods commonly used to collect the requested survey data: mail canvass, internet collection, and a central collection from state sources. The method may vary based upon state requirements and the type of government (state vs. local municipality).

In the event data collected is incomplete, the U.S. Census Bureau may attempt to collect data from other sources such as the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs).


About SBB Research Group

SBB Research Group is an innovative investment management firm operating in the Chicago area. Founded in 2010, the company specializes in creating bespoke funds seeking both stability and long-term results through a systematic market approach. The firm simultaneously assesses opportunities and risks and continually strives to optimize the protection and growth of investor capital.

SBB Research Group’s leadership has established a culture of research and collaboration. The founder and CEO, Sam Barnett, Ph.D., is an applied mathematician and neuroscientist specializing in quantitative predictions of complex systems. The firm’s COO and CCO Matt Aven, an experienced professional in economics and computer science, fosters interdisciplinary teamwork among experts in science, finance, engineering, and other key disciplines.

In addition, SBB Research Group is committed to giving back to the community, both at the local and global levels. The company regularly organizes volunteer events and sponsors underserved causes. Notably, SBBRG is the presenting sponsor of the annual Greater Chicago K-12 Chess Championship and is a proud partner of the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center, the World Wildlife Fund in the Northern Great Plains, Surge for Water in Uganda, and many other organizations.

If you are interested in even more business-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.

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