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International Economic Accounts

Legal Authority and Confidentiality

Reporting on BEA’s direct investment and international services transactions surveys is mandatory under the International Investment and Trade in Services Survey Act (P.L. 94-472, 90 Stat. 2059, 22 U.S.C. 3101-3108, as amended). A response is required of persons notified of these surveys by BEA. Persons not contacted by BEA have no reporting responsibilities except for benchmark surveys (conducted once every five years) and the Survey of New Foreign Direct Investment in the United States. For these surveys, a response is required from persons subject to the reporting requirements, whether or not they are contacted by BEA. For implementing regulations, please see 15 CFR part 801. For a list of the latest Federal Register notices, please see www.federalregister.gov/agencies/economic-analysis-bureau/


The Act protects the confidentiality of the data that companies report:

    Without the prior written permission of the reporter, BEA cannot publish or otherwise release the data collected on its surveys in a form that would allow the data of an individual reporter to be identified.

    The Act specifies that the survey data may only be used for statistical and analytical purposes. BEA is prohibited from granting another agency access to the data for tax, investigative, or regulatory purposes.

    Data reported on BEA’s surveys are not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Courts have held that Section 3104(c) of Title 22 of the U.S. Code precludes the disclosure of reports in response to FOIA requests (see, e.g., Young Conservative Foundation, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1987 WL 9244 (D.D.C. Mar. 25, 1987) (No. 85-3982)).