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Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Consumer Expenditure Surveys (CE) Gemini Project

The Gemini Project was launched to research and develop a redesign of the Consumer Expenditure (CE) surveys, addressing issues of measurement error and respondent burden. In July 2013, a redesign proposal was approved, outlining the future direction of the CE survey. More information on the history of the Gemini Project is available on this page under Gemini Background. Documents related to the Gemini project can be found at the CE library by filtering on the "Gemini" column.

Latest Updates on the Redesign

The BLS officially implemented the CE Online Diary into production as of July 2022, based on results from the Large Scale Feasibility Test of Online Diaries which was fielded in 2019-2020.

The Gemini Field Tests page has added preliminary and final results from the Large Scale Feasibility Test of Online Diaries.

Previous Updates

Information on design, related materials, and results for the following Gemini field tests are available on the Gemini Field Tests page: the Individual Diaries Field Test (August-December 2014), the Gemini Proof of Concept Test (July-September 2015), and the Incentives and Outlets Test (July-December 2016).

A data quality section and report can be found in the CE data quality and comparisons page. Measuring data quality is an important step in judging the effectiveness of the implemented redesign and the prototype report provides a baseline. Additional data quality measurement indicators will be added in future iterations of the data quality profile report.

Overview of the CE Redesign

The original Gemini Project consisted of a single sample design with two interviews per wave and a diary keeping week in between. Each household member over the age of 15 was to complete an individual diary. Each household was to be interviewed twice, one year apart. The design featured online diaries with a paper backup. To emphasize record use, the redesign plan was to split one interview into 2 shorter interviews to redistribute burden, a recall and a records interview. The design featured both token and conditional incentives.

The original redesign is described in "Consumer Expenditure Survey: Redesign Proposal" prepared by the Gemini Design team. Click here for a graphic of the original redesign.

As the design was tested in various field tests, we found that:

  1. Fielding costs were higher than expected.
  2. The redesign plan would cost more than the current survey.
  3. Some redesign elements such as individual diaries and conditional monetary incentives were not supported strongly in the field tests.

As of 2018, we changed direction and moved to a phased implementation of the redesign plan to maintain effective design elements and implement them directly into the Consumer Expenditure Interview and Diary surveys.

Key features of the phased implementation plan:

  • Many of the original design elements of the Gemini Project are being retained including:
    • online diaries which can be accessed on web and mobile platforms
    • a streamlined questionnaire with a focus on record use

  • The plan for a single sample design has been put on hold, pending changes to requirements and/or additional funding and further testing.

  • We continue to explore the use of incentives including an incentive for the use of records.

  • Online diaries were tested in the Large Scale Feasibility Test of Online Diaries (LSF) in 2019-2020. Based on results from the LSF test, the BLS has added the option for respondents to use an online diary in the Consumer Expenditure Diary Survey.

  • A streamlined questionnaire with a focus on record use is being developed at BLS for the Consumer Expenditure Interview Survey and the expected implementation date is 2023. This questionnaire will focus on facilitating the use of records, aggregating questions to reduce burden, and reorganizing certain sections to improve the flow of the questionnaire.

The timeline for the Gemini Project reflects the phased implementation plan for the redesign. More information on the original redesign plan, results of various tests of the redesign plan, and the current plan for phased implementation are discussed in this presentation: An Introduction to the CE Redesign. The timeline for the project is shown in the figure below:

Gemini Background

The Gemini Project to redesign the CE survey was launched in 2009, and the redesign plan was approved in 2013. The documents below provide more information on the history of the Gemini Project including the final report of the CNSTAT panel on redesigning the Consumer Expenditure Surveys. Other documents related to the background of the Gemini Project can be found in the CE library.

  1. Project Vision Document - Revised for 2015
  2. OPLC Requirements for the Consumer Expenditure Survey
  3. CNSTAT report: "Measuring What We Spend: Toward a New Consumer Expenditure Survey"
  4. CE Data Quality Definition Report

Several field tests have been conducted since 2013 to test various elements of the redesign. Details on those tests can be found on the Gemini Field Test page.


Questions or comments about the redesign? Contact us at


Last Modified Date: August 23, 2022