Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

NYTimes Calls For National Indicator Set

Have you seen the editorial today in the New York Times? Kenneth Duberstein writes about the State of the Union address:

But given today’s challenges and the rapid pace of change, a yearly formal address is no longer sufficient to measure the true state of our Union. To recapture the spirit of the founders — and to fulfill President Obama’s own promise to provide greater accountability in Washington — another tool is needed, one that enables all Americans to gauge whether we are making progress as a nation.

What we need now is a Web-based system for measuring our changing society with key national indicators — in a free, public, easy-to-use form.

That sounds like a pretty good idea, doesn't it? It's such a great idea that "Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Michael Enzi, Republican of Wyoming, plan to soon introduce a bill that would allocate about $7.5 million a year for such a comprehensive database of key national indicators, and the idea already has wide bipartisan support. The data, selected by the National Academy of Sciences, would come from public and private sources of information on issues like education, the environment, the economy, energy use, housing, health care and the state of our roads and other public works."

Which would be fantastic -- except Congress already did this. Through the GAO and the National Academies of Science. And they spun it off, and it's now called the State of the USA project. And it's scheduled to be done and online by Fall 2009.

Here's more:

The State of the USA, Inc. (SUSA) is a new nonprofit organization that will assemble high-quality measures and data that can be used to assess the progress of the United States; it will display those measures—as a public service—on its website. SUSA will serve nongovernmental organizations, the media, policy makers, business leaders, foundations, scientists, educators and citizens by providing valuable information so all Americans can educate themselves about the progress of the United States.

With advice from the National Academies, SUSA is assembling a set of key national indicators to measure specific conditions or trends in this country. Data will be drawn from this country’s most respected public and private statistical sources (e.g., the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis) and will help the public track the nation’s progress on a wide variety of issues at many demographic and geographic levels, to the extent such data are available.

So what's up with the editorial? The legislation? Any ideas?


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