As part of its work producing international trade and investment statistics, BEA collects company-specific data that must be kept confidential by law. While committed to protecting the confidentiality of our survey respondents, we recognize a public interest in research using the company-level data we collect. Outside researchers can apply to use BEA's company data for their statistical research, under strict guidelines. Those who are approved take an oath to safeguard the data as special sworn research consultants of BEA.
What Data Are Available?
BEA collects company-specific microdata on foreign direct investment, the activities of multinational enterprises, and international trade in services. Our mandatory surveys are conducted under the International Investment and Trade in Services Survey Act. These surveys are currently available to authorized researchers: Available BEA Data.
Who Can Apply to Access BEA Business Data?
- Researchers must be U.S. citizens (U.S. residency is not sufficient for this requirement).
- Researchers cannot be employed at any of the following:
- For-profit businesses.
- Federal government agencies that are not designated as a statistical agency or unit by the Office of Management and Budget.
- Government or other organizations engaged in tax collection, regulatory enforcement, or policymaking.
How Can BEA Company Data Be Used?
- The data may be used for analytical and statistical purposes only.
- The data cannot be used for purposes of taxation, investigation, or regulation.
- Proposals using BEA company data must demonstrate that the research is likely to provide one or more benefits to BEA. See BEA Benefit Criteria.
- The proposed research must require non-public BEA company data.
- The proposed research must be feasible using BEA company data.
- The expected output from research should not pose a risk of disclosing company-specific information from BEA surveys.
- See research papers using BEA company data for examples of topics that can be analyzed with the data.
Are There Limitations on Commingling Other Data Sources with BEA Company Data?
- Company-specific information from outside databases cannot be commingled with BEA company data if the resulting combined data set would contain information beyond the scope of the data items collected in BEA surveys.
- If you have questions about the appropriateness of commingling a particular data set with BEA company data, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Are Data Accessed?
BEA's company-specific data can only be accessed at a secure site. Authorized researchers choose from two options:
Work on-site at BEA's headquarters in Suitland, Md. (Currently remote access is being offered instead of on-site access)
No fee charged for working on-site at BEA.
Security clearance required.
Work at one of the more than 30 Federal Statistical Research Data Centers.
Fees charged for using a federal research center.
Both BEA's and the data center's security clearances required.
Whether you work at our headquarters or at a data center, BEA will:
- Ensure that you have completed BEA data security requirements.
- Facilitate review of your proposal.
- Facilitate annual review of your approved project.
- Work with you to review your output for disclosure risk.
How Do I Arrange to Use a Research Data Center?
- Contact the administrator of the Federal Statistical Research Data Center (FSRDC) in your preferred location to discuss access requirements and the center's fees before applying for access to BEA company data.
- To access BEA's data at a research data center, you will need to receive Special Sworn Status from the Census Bureau, which manages the centers. This additional clearance may add several months to the approval process.
- BEA charges a flat fee for each year of research data center access to help offset our costs of participating in the network. The fee is assessed by project and can be shared by team members.
- If you are also seeking to access restricted data from other federal agencies at the data center, you will need to have your proposal approved by each of these agencies. The other agencies may charge additional fees.
- When you work at one of these data centers, the administrator facilitates the transfer of BEA company data to the project space and transfers your output to BEA for review. The administrator answers logistical questions about using the data and assists with any technical problems.
How Do I Propose a Project?
As a result of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, the federal statistical system has developed a standard application process (SAP) for applying for access to confidential data, including BEA company-specific data. To apply for access:
- Identify BEA surveys relevant to your research using the SAP Portal data catalog of restricted-use data and other resources below.
- Add any BEA surveys you need, using the BEA survey entries in the SAP data catalog, to your data request before starting your application. Submitting the request will take you to application instructions and a user guide.
What Resources Are Available To Help Prepare an Application for BEA Company Data?
- SAP Portal Data Catalog
- A Guide to BEA's Direct Investment Surveys
- A Guide to BEA's Services Surveys
- Current Survey Forms and Additional Information
- International Surveys: Archived Survey Forms - Company data is not available for all years and surveys for which survey forms are available.
- Crosswalks Involving BEA Microdata
- U.S. International Economic Accounts: Concepts and Methods
- International Economic Accounts Survey of Current Business Articles
- Relevant BEA FAQs