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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Insular Affairs
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Interior and Commerce Departments Sign Agreement for GDP Data Collection, Training in U.S. Territories



Date: March 19, 2009
Contact: Frank Quimby, (202) 208-6416
Tanya Joshua, (202) 208-6008

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Office of Insular Affairs of the Department of the Interior has signed an agreement with the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce to assist the U.S. island territories in developing and producing annual gross domestic product (GDP) statistics for the islands.

Under the agreement, called Statistical Improvement Program, the Office of Insular Affairs will provide about $1.6 million over 18 months during which the Bureau of Economic Analysis will develop GDP data for American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands and train territorial economists and statisticians.

This bureau calculates and reports the GDP of the United States, the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Currently, however, the GDP of the four U.S. island territories is not included in the national GDP which the Commerce Department prepares. The absence of this critical information prevents the Federal Government and the territorial governments from knowing the value of the territorial economic output, how that output evolves over time and how that evolution affects the living standards of these U.S. citizens and nationals.

"Working with our office at Interior and island government staffs, the Commerce bureau will produce GDP estimates for the four territories within a year of the official launch of the program this summer," said Nikolao Pula, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs. "The Commerce Department will also train territorial staff in the methodology and procedures of calculating and reporting territorial GDP data."

The goal is to ensure uniformity of standards and procedures, so that all four territories will produce GDP data that will be consistent with the Bureau's standards. As the Federal Government's authority on GDP methodology and statistics for the United States, the Bureau of Economic Analysis is the final arbiter of macroeconomic accounting, analysis and reporting.

"Interior's Office of Insular Affairs has made this commitment so that territorial governments can upgrade their institutional capacities to produce current and complete economic information that will enable the territories and Federal agencies to make informed decisions," Pula explained, "we have communicated with the four governors and are seeking their cooperation to make this program a success."

Senior Commerce staff working on the project include: Brent Moulton, associate director, National Income Accounts Directorate; Brian Moyer, associate director, Industry Accounts Directorate; Carole Moylan, chief of the National Income and Wealth Division; and Robert Kornfeld, deputy chief, National Income and Wealth Division.

Office of Insular Affairs economist Wali Osman and his counterpart at the Bureau of Economic Analsysis, Robert Kornfeld, are the lead officials for implementing the program. For questions, please contact Wali Osman at Wali_Osman@ios.doi.gov or call (202) 208-4292. For more information on the Office of Insular Affairs, please visit www.doi.gov/oia