Federal officials who try to an accurate read of the US economy from the mass of available public and
private economic data influence need all the help they can get. Their insights into the economy and
where it is heading influence important economic decisions by the Federal Reserve and other
government agencies.

The good news is that federal government has become more open to the use of data science and its
utility in making informed decisions.

Bloomberg reports:

“One reason government agencies are paying more attention, however, is the tools to analyze the
information are improving, said Brian Moyer, director of the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. “What
has really changed is not so much the availability of the data, but the data science tools and our ability
to process and use it in real time,” Moyer said in an interview, adding that BEA is trying to enhance the
accuracy of government reports, not replace them with private data sets. “We can drill into the changing
composition of goods and services expenditures and that is what is going to keep GDP accurate.”

“Jeff Chen, chief innovation officer at BEA, said the agency is experimenting with hundreds of different
prediction models that use public and private data, such as Google search queries, to come up with
better estimates for service expenditures. It’s a critical endeavor. The BEA’s advance estimate on GDP is
released before the completion of the Census’s Quarterly Services Survey so they have to impute service
sector consumption. ‘What big data can do is mimic what the trends will be,’ Chen says.“