Survey the market research business, and you'll find Westat among the leaders of the pack. A statistical survey organization, the company provides research and consulting services, including study design and analysis, data collection, program evaluation, and communications campaign development. It has technical expertise in survey and analytical methods, computer systems technology, biomedical science, and clinical trials. Westat serves US, state, and local government clients, in addition to businesses and foundations. It has offices in six US states, as well as international offices in China, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, South Africa, and Thailand. The company was founded in 1963 and is employee-owned.
The company continues to make headlines related to the research it conducted on the federal system known as E-Verify, which is designed to ensure that all new hires are US citizens or legal immigrants. Certain members of Congress regularly seek to require all businesses to use the federal system. However, critics repeatedly site a 2010 report Westat conducted for the government, which found that E-Verify failed to detect illegal workers 54% of the time.
Another significant study the company is conducting is on tobacco, in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. As part of the study, which began in 2011, Westat is examining what makes people more likely to smoke or stop smoking, and what effect regulation has on peoples' attitudes towards tobacco. Researchers are spending five years following 40,000 tobacco users and potential users aged 12 and up; the project is being called the largest government study of tobacco use in the US to date.