BEA Director Steve Landefeld to Retire

Steve Landefeld, Director of the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, plans to retire in early May. Dr. Landefeld took the helm in May 1995 and in his 19 years as director was instrumental in implementing major changes aimed at better measuring the dynamic U.S. and world economies.

Under Dr. Landefeld’s leadership, the non-partisan BEA:

  • Developed more accurate measures of inflation, productivity and economic growth for policymakers and businesses by switching to “chain-weighted” indexes that are now used around the world.
  • Incorporated measures of investments in R&D, computer software and other intangibles as part of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and calculated their economic impact — providing a much-improved basis for understanding and supporting the knowledge economy.
  • Expanded measures of international and domestic services output and prices, improving our knowledge of their impact on   inflation, productivity, competitiveness and business cycles.
  • Developed more timely and more accurate gauges for measuring the distribution of nominal and real economic growth across regions and industries.
  • Spearheaded research and new statistics that improved data on pensions and health care – enhancing their relevance.
  • Extended statistics beyond GDP and conventional measures to a number of areas, including the environment, human capital, multinational companies, the valuation of life for health and safety decisions, household production and the distribution of income.

Dr. Landefeld has played a key leadership role in economic accounting advances through his personal research and his international statistical leadership. He has written extensively on all these topics and has led the efforts to incorporate many of these statistical advances into the international accounting guidelines used by the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Union. Dr. Landefeld and the BEA also have a long history of working closely with businesses and other data users to make sure that BEA-produced statistics are timely and relevant.

In recognition for his contributions, Dr. Landefeld has received numerous awards including those from President George W. Bush, the National Association for Business Economics, the International Statistical Institute, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the American Statistical Association, the Coalition of Service Industries and the American Society for Public Administration.

Dr. Mark Doms, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, will lead a search and select Dr. Landefeld’s successor. Until a new director is appointed, Dr. Brian Moyer, BEA’s deputy director, will serve as acting director for the bureau.

“Steve’s commitments to integrity, leadership and relentless focus on improving economic measurement means that today, businesses, policy-makers and citizens all have a better understanding of our economy. His departure is a loss to our statistical system, but fortunately I can directly attest that Steve has accomplished what we all hope to, to leave our agencies in better shape than we found them,” Doms said.

BEA is a non-political agency that produces statistics on national, international, industry and regional economic activity. The agency is made up entirely of career civil servants.

Dr. Landefeld first joined BEA in 1979.  He left the agency and returned in 1990, heading up the Bureau’s international directorate. He also served as BEA’s deputy director. Dr. Landefeld was chief of staff at the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1988 to 1990, under the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

Harvard University Professor Dale Jorgenson, long-serving chairman of BEA’s Advisory Committee and co-editor of several scholarly works with Dr. Landefeld, said: “Steve Landefeld and his colleagues at BEA have generated a stream of first-rate contributions to economic statistics. In addition to his outstanding intellectual leadership of BEA, Landefeld has been an enormously effective Director. Under his management BEA has assembled a first-rate administrative staff and an excellent cadre of research economists. BEA’s capacity to serve the business community and the public has never been higher.”

Dr. Landefeld’s last day is May 2.

After leaving BEA, Dr. Landefeld plans to spend time with his family. He also plans to teach economics at his alma mater — the University of Maryland from which he received his doctorate in economics.

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