A congressional request was made for assistance to develop a national data base to aid oversight on the names of older Americans. The GAO was designated to provide technical assistance for two design tasks which would: (1) identify data archives and repositories in the United States that emphasize data on aging; and (2) select the data files that contain information on aging.
The GAO applied two major criteria for screening data archives and repositories: (1) the data had to have the potential for providing information on the four policy areas of interest to Congress; and (2) the archive or repository had to be established and currently accessible.
To identify national data files of interest, the GAO focused on geographically based files and found that the county was the most suitable geographic level because of its compatibility with the existing review system. GAO compiled a list of technical issues on aging as being important for consideration, and it included a suggestion which provided an alternative approach to identifying data files based on the individual.