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History of the Forum

The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics (Forum) was initially established in 1986, with the goal of bringing together Federal agencies that share a common interest in improving aging-related data. The Forum has played a key role by critically evaluating existing data resources and limitations, stimulating new database development, encouraging cooperation and data sharing among Federal agencies, and preparing collaborative statistical reports. In addition to the original three core agencies (National Institute on Aging, National Center for Health Statistics and Census Bureau), the organizing members of the Forum now include senior officials from the Administration for Community Living (formerly the Administration on Aging), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Social Security Administration, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Goals of the Forum

The Forum’s mission is to encourage cooperation and collaboration among Federal agencies in order to improve the quality and utility of data on the aging population.

The specific goals of the Forum are:

  • Widening access to information on the aging population through periodic publications and other means.
  • Promoting communication among data producers, researchers, and public policymakers.
  • Coordinating the development and use of statistical databases among Federal agencies.
  • Identifying information gaps and data inconsistencies.
  • Investigating questions of data quality.
  • Encouraging cross-national research and data collection on the aging population.
  • Addressing concerns regarding collection, access, and dissemination of data.

Charter of the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics

Background

The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics (Forum) was initially established in 1986, with the goal of bringing together Federal agencies that share a common interest in improving aging- related data. The Forum plays a key role by encouraging cooperation and data sharing among Federal agencies and preparing collaborative statistical reports.

Mission

The mission of the Forum is to encourage cooperation and collaboration among Federal agencies in order to improve the quality and utility of data on the aging population.

The Forum stimulates discussions among and between statistical communities, policymakers and users of information on aging, and publicly disseminates aging-related information products as well as engaging in other activities that support aging related statistics. The Forum operates within the general principles and practices for Federal statistical agencies and units and seeks to inform policy and the public.

Objectives

To fulfill its mission, the Forum works to achieve the following objectives:

  • Widen access to information on the aging population through periodic publications and other means.
  • Promote communication among data producers, researchers, and public policymakers.
  • Identify information gaps and data inconsistencies.
  • Investigate new methods for obtaining data.
  • Investigate questions of data quality.

Operations and Practices of the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics

Membership

As of January 1, 2019, the following agencies are members of the Forum:

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Department of Commerce
U.S. Census Bureau

Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Community Living
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
National Center for Health Statistics
National Institute on Aging
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Employment Benefits Security Administration

Department of Veteran Affairs

Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Office of Management and Budget
Statistical and Science Policy Office

Social Security Administration
Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics

Membership in the Forum is open to government agencies and requires that an agency either produce statistics concerning the well-being of older Americans or have a mission that is highly dependent on using those statistics.

Each Forum member agency shall be represented by a Forum Principal (typically the agency director or a designee) and a named Forum Alternate. To become a member of the Forum an agency should send a request to join the Forum to the Forum Director (a position described below) outlining how the agency meets the criteria outlined above and how the mission of the agency relates to the mission of the Forum. The Forum Director will share the request with Forum membership who will evaluate the request.

Membership in the Forum requires active participation in Forum activities including attendance at meetings, agency staff participation in work groups, timely review of documents and timely response to requests for input on Forum activities. The Forum Director shall contact any Forum agency whose members are not participating in Forum or committee meetings for one year or more to determine level of interest. Any agency without interest and/or resources shall withdraw from the Forum.  Agencies can request to rejoin the Forum if their interest in Forum activities changes.

Organization

The Forum can establish and alter administrative positions and committee structure. Forum principals shall appoint agency representatives to serve on standing and ad hoc committees, as needed, to support the Forum’s mission and to address any specific goals or objectives. The standing committees of the Forum are:

Executive Committee. An Executive Committee consisting of four Forum members meets as needed to address issues that require decisions before the next scheduled meeting of the Forum. The Executive Committee can resolve administrative issues but can call an interim in-person or phone meeting of the Forum principals when needed. All Forum principals are invited to attend Executive Committee meetings and an agenda will be sent to principals prior to the meeting. Membership on the Executive Committee should rotate among Forum members. Members serve two years with two members rotating off each year.

Planning Committee. Forum principals nominate members of the Planning committee that oversees the operations of the Forum and coordinates the work of the other committees.

To address specific projects, ad hoc committees can be established with the approval of Forum principals. 

The Forum shall have a Director to manage the daily workings of the Forum, including oversight of the support and production of Forum reports based on direction from Forum principals. The National Center for Health Statistics provides a part-time FTE position for the Forum Director and staff to administer Forum contributions and expenditures.  Forum principals are invited to take part in the selection process when a new Forum Director must be selected.  Information on Forum contributions and expenditures will be provided to Forum principals at least once a year. The location of the Forum Director position and the mechanism for administering Forum funding can be modified by agreement of the Forum principals. 

Decision-Making

The Forum strives to make decisions by consensus. If consensus cannot be achieved after extensive discussion, decision will be made by majority vote taken at scheduled Forum meetings or at interim Forum meetings called by the Executive Committee. However, if the vote does not result in a clear majority (such as 75% of voting members) the Forum should attempt to find a workable compromise.  

Funding and Other Support

The Forum welcomes many forms of support. The time and expertise of Forum agencies’ staff support the work of the Forum.  In particular, the contributions of many staff across many agencies make possible the Forum’s publications and activities.

In addition to contributions of staff time, the production of Forum reports, products, administrative support, and management support requires financial contributions by Forum member agencies. The Forum uses funds for the services of the Forum Director and related contracts. While the Forum does not identify and request specific amounts from Forum member agencies, the nature of Forum activities is a function of available funds.

Meetings

Forum members shall meet as a full Forum at least twice per year.  Fifty-one percent of members must be in attendance for decisions to be made.  Meetings will generally be held in the spring and the fall to address the preparation and dissemination of Forum products, publications, and a Work Plan for alternate-year activities and deliverables. An informational meeting to promote internal and external data sharing among Forum member agencies and other Federal partners can also be held.

If discussions cannot be completed or resolved during the regularly scheduled fall and spring meetings, then on-call or Executive Committee meetings can be scheduled.  

Products

The Forum currently produces the Older Americans: Key Indicators of Well-Being.

  

Parameters for Aging Forum Publications, Products, and Activities

Selection Criteria for Regular Indicators

Regular indicators must meet the following criteria to be included in the Chartbook:

  • Easy to understand by a wide range of audiences.
  • Based on reliable, nationwide data sponsored, collected, or disseminated by the Federal government.
  • Objectively based on substantial research that connects the indicator to the well-being of older Americans.
  • Balanced so that no single section dominates the report.
  • Measured periodically (but not necessarily annually) so that they can be updated, making possible, description of trends over time.
  • Representative of large segments of the aging population, rather than one particular group.

Structure for Regular Indicators

Each indicator will include:

  • An introductory paragraph describing the relevance of the indicator to the well-being of the older population in the United States.
  • One or more figures that illustrate important aspects of the data in a key measure.
  • Bulleted data highlights.

In addition, the indicator will be supplemented by the following in the back matter:

  • Tables that present the data used on the indicator page(s).
  • Data source descriptions.
  • Glossary entries (if applicable).
Detailed Parameters for Regular Indicator Content

Introductory Paragraph

The text in the introductory paragraph should be limited to a few sentences and should discuss the background of the indicator measure, its significance for the well-being of older Americans, a reference to the particular indicator being presented, the breakouts chosen for the figure, and answer the question, “Why should I read this?” Citations should be used sparingly and only to cite information necessary to include to provide context for the reader.

Figures

All indicators will include one figure that highlights the key measure of the indicator. An indicator may include two (or more) figures only when it is agreed that more than one figure is required to more fully explain the key measure or its context as a measure of well-being. Data in figures must be included in indicator table(s).

Bullets

Indicator bullets should be kept relatively short so that the introductory paragraph, figure(s), and bullets can all fit on one page (perhaps two pages or more if the indicator includes more than one figure).

Indicator bullets must adhere to the following parameters:

  • Bullets should address most of the key indicator findings shown in the tables.
  • Bullets should not introduce a new indicator.
    • Example: If an indicator measures poverty, bullets that report on extreme poverty would be introducing a different indicator.
  • All estimates referred to in the bullets must be found in the tables.
  • If the figure shows trends, bullets should report on the trends shown for each of the population groups shown in the figure or, if appropriate, summarize the findings across the population groups.
  • The first bullet should refer to the most recent year of data; the next bullet(s) to the data trends over time, if trends are shown; the following bullets to any estimates or trends for subgroups shown in the figure(s); and the remaining bullets, if any, should be arranged in order of importance.
  • Although not encouraged, in addition to estimates shown in the figure, bullets can include estimates for agreed-upon demographic breakouts [age, race/ethnicity, sex, poverty, educational attainment, or geography (region or urban status)], if doing so enhances the key measure shown in the figure. Bullets covering estimates shown in the figure must be exhausted first before bullets can be added covering other demographic breakouts in the table.
    • Example: If the figure shows trends in the percentage of older Americans with obesity by race/ethnicity the bullets would report on the most recent year of data, then on the trends over time, followed by estimates and trends for the race/ethnicity groups before other demographic breakouts included in the table, but not in the figure, would be discussed.
  • Comparisons of estimates discussed in the text will be statistically significant unless noted otherwise. The agency providing the data will assure appropriate testing has been conducted to verify a true difference between discussed estimates.
  • Bullets cannot include citations referencing data or other sources outside the report.

Tables

Data tables must include all data shown in the figures and bullets for the indicator. All data tables must be associated with at least one figure and one accompanying bullets. Tables must include all estimates reported in the bullets or shown in the figure. Tables can include agreed upon demographic breakouts (see section on bullets) not shown in the figure but cannot introduce a new indicator.

  • Language used to describe breakout groups will be consistent across an indicator’s text, figures, and tables. For example, if referring to White, non-Hispanic females in the text, then the exact reference should be found in the table. Just listing the category, White, is insufficient.
Older Americans Special Features
  • Maintains the same statistical rigor as regular indicators of the Older Americans report.
  • Allows use of data sources that may not have the periodicity of regular and routine data sets found in the Older Americans report.
Alternative Year Reports, Other Forum Products and Activities (i.e., infographics, workshops)
  • TBD