Blog Archives

Census Bureau Releases “Demonstration” Decennial Data Products, Working with National Academies to Collect Public Input

On October 29, the Census Bureau released a set of demonstration data products that show how the privacy measures planned for 2020 Census data would have applied to data from the 2010 Census. In a blog post, Census Bureau Chief Scientist John Abowd and Associate Director for Demographic Programs Victoria Velkoff assert that the “methods we used to protect the 2010 Census and earlier statistics can no longer adequately defend against today’s privacy threats.” They describe the new disclosure avoidance techniques planned to protect 2020 Census data and invite researchers and data users to experiment with the new demonstration products and determine if they meet their needs.

To assess the adequacy of the proposed data products, the Census Bureau is sponsoring a workshop on the demonstration data products on December 11-12 conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT). CNSTAT is requesting public comments from users of decennial data products—regardless of whether the demonstration products apply to their work—to inform the agenda of the workshop and to inform the Census Bureau’s final decision making about the 2020 products. CNSTAT seeks detailed input from data users on whether the demonstration products would be adequate, how critical the data products are to their research, how comparable the new products are to the 2010 products, and how to address the tension between privacy and accuracy of 2020 Census data. Full details on information requested and how to submit comments are available on the CNSTAT website. While there is no hard deadline for comments, comments received by December 4 will be the most helpful for the workshop organizers’ planning.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 12), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

CNSTAT Issues Report on Federal Statistics, Multiple Data Sources, and Privacy Protection

The Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently issued a consensus report entitled Federal Statistics, Multiple Data Sources, and Privacy Protection: Next Steps. The report was produced by the Panel on Improving Federal Statistics for Policy and Social Science Research Using Multiple Data Sources and State-of-the-Art Estimation Methods, chaired by Robert Groves of Georgetown University. The Panel’s first report, Innovations in Federal Statistics: Combining Data Sources While Protecting Privacy, was published in January 2017, and described some of the challenges currently facing the federal statistical system’s current paradigm of heavy reliance on sample surveys and recommended a new approach of combining different kinds of federal and private data, as well as the creation of an entity to facilitate that. Federal Statistics, Multiple Data Sources, and Privacy Protection builds on the first report and examines statistical methods for combining diverse types of data, the implications relying on multiple data sources may have for IT systems, different statistical and computer science approaches to enhancing privacy protections, how to ensure the quality and utility of statistics produced using multiple data sources, and ways to implement the “new entity” that would facilitate combining data sources. The pre-publication version of the report is available on the National Academies’ website.

There is quite a bit of overlap in the areas addressed by the CNSTAT panel and those addressed by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which released its report in September (see COSSA’s coverage the Commission)—in fact, Panel Chair Robert Groves served on the Commission as well. However, while the resulting reports from the two groups are hopefully complementary, their work was conducted independent of one another.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 31), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

National Academies Releases Sixth Edition of Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency

The Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently published the sixth edition of its report, Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, which is released every four years to coincide with presidential terms. The consensus study report provides an explanation of the federal statistical system and offers guiding principles and best practices for federal statistical agencies. According to the report, in order to disseminate relevant, timely, accurate and credible information to the public and policymakers, federal statistical agencies follow four guiding principles: (1) produce objective and relevant information, (2) maintain a credible reputation among data users, (3) build trust among data providers, and (4) remain independent and objective.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Shannon Emmett of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 25), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Committee on National Statistics Releases Report on Reducing Burden in the American Community Survey

The Committee on National Statistics of the Division of Behavioral and Social Science and Education (DBASSE) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has published a report on their March workshop dedicated to improving the American Community Survey (ACS). The workshop examined different approaches to reducing the burden on respondents, including reducing the number of questions asked to individual respondents though matrix sampling, eliminating the need for some questions by using administrative records, increasing cooperation with the survey, reducing the length of the survey. The full report is available here.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 18), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Events Calendar

11th Annual Brown Lecture in Education Research, American Educational Research Association, October 23, 2014

Measuring Dimensions of Subjective Well-Being: The Role of Official Statistics, National Academies Committee on National Statistics, October 24, 2014

Stimulating Effective Innovation in Government, National Academies Policy Roundtable of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, October 30, 2014

NSF Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Advisory Committee Fall Meeting, October 30-31, 2014

The City: 2014 Behavioral and Social Science Summit, Stanford University, November 8, 2014

A list of COSSA member conferences and annual meetings can be found on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 20), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

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