All posts by Brendan Buff

APDU Annual Business Meeting and State of the Association

In a time of change in the federal statistical system and the federal government generally, APDU has been keeping you informed and prepared. Our Weekly Updates, annual conference, webinars, and even a new training course have kept us busy during 2016. Want to know what’s in store for 2017?

APDU is excited to announce our Annual Business Meeting on December 6, 2016, at 3 pm EST. The meeting will be convened by webinar and open to all APDU members.

The APDU Board of Directors will report on the state of the association, present this year’s accomplishments and goals for the coming year, and answer your questions.



Call to Order & Welcome
• Key Accomplishments
• Annual Conference Report
• Webinars
• Data Viz Made Simple Training
• Advocacy Activities

Fall 2016 Election

Financial Report

Looking Ahead
• Public Data University
• Annual Conference
• Training
• Get Involved With APDU


Job Board November 2016

Welcome to the monthly APDU Job Board. Members are invited to submit job postings at their organization; the Board also includes a collection of public data-related positions (research, projections, etc.) from a variety of Federal, nonprofit, and private sources. You can submit your job postings to

Addressing Under-Reporting of Young Children in Federal Statistical Programs

Federal statistical agencies such as the Census Bureau must continuously improve survey methodologies to accurately reflect the U.S. population. For example, in recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the under-reporting of young children in several federal statistical system activities. There is clear evidence that young children (age 0-4) have a higher net undercount rate than any other age group in the 2010 Census. There is also evidence that young children are under-reported in three major Census Bureau surveys (the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation) and in administrative records matched to the 2010 Census.

This webinar will first cover the data, or lack thereof, reflected in the statements above. Further, a representative from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget will discuss the implications of this data issue including activities underway to learn more about the issue and possible remedies for this problem. We expect to have ample time for questions and comments from the webinar participants.

Bill O’Hare, President, O’Hare Data and Demographic Services, LLC

Jennifer Park, Policy Analyst, Statistical and Science Policy Branch, Office of Management and Budget

A Closer Look at New Federal Survey Items on Certifications and Licenses

This APDU Public Data University Webinar will focus on federal surveys that now include new items on certifications and licenses. Over a 7-year period, the Interagency Working Group on Expanded Measures of Enrollment and Attainment (GEMEnA) developed and validated survey items on the prevalence and key characteristics of these non-degree credentials. Now a number of federal surveys of households and individuals have begun to collect data using the validated items, including the Current Population Survey and the National Survey of College Graduates. Taken together, these survey sources provide a comprehensive national picture of certifications and licenses.

Dr. Sharon Boivin, Chair of GEMEnA, will give an overview of the GEMEnA development process and then provide an in-depth look at item wording and analysis nuances for each survey. Dr. Jeff Strohl, Director of Research at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, will discuss the research questions that each survey is best poised to answer.

Sharon Boivin, Chair, Interagency Working Group on Expanded Measures of Enrollment and Attainment
Jeff Strohl, Director of Research, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Job Board September 2016

Welcome to the monthly APDU Job Board. Members are invited to submit job postings at their organization; the Board also includes a collection of public data-related positions (research, projections, etc.) from a variety of Federal, nonprofit, and private sources. You can submit your job postings to

APDU Conference: Data Viz Awards Winners Announced

The 2016 APDU Data Viz Awards winners have been selected by the APDU nominating committee!

The Association of Public Data Users proudly present a selection of 2016’s top visualizations using publicly available data. Submissions were received from across the country, from researchers and students to public-agency and private-sector staff. Visualizations were developed using various tools, but with a common purpose: to use public data to convey meaningful information in a compelling manner. Award recipients will present on their research questions, data sources, and design tactics. Join us for a more informal session to close our conference.

We would like to congratulate the following individuals/organizations:

Federal Public Agencies

Private Firms

Researchers and Students

State/Local Public Agencies

Attendees of the 2016 APDU Annual Conference will be able to learn more about the development of these data visualizations in the closing session of the conference on September 14 at 2:45 P.M. Register today!

APDU Conference: Building Demand for Open Data

by Cliff Cook, APDU Board Member and Planning Information Manager, City of Cambridge, Massaschusetts

Recent years have seen an explosion in the interest in open data at all levels of government.  Open data can serve as a game changer when comes to the relationship between the public, the business community and government.  A variety of actors can pose and readily answer questions that, at best, previously required a deep dive into paper files or unstructured electronic documents.

This ideal picture of open data both ignores some realities and raises questions.  Creating and maintaining open data can prove a challenge for agencies without sufficient staffing or a culture of openness.  Structuring data in a manner that is useful to actors outside the agency can take a significant amount of staff time.  Updating open data sets is not always as easy as a ”click of the button”.  The data made available are often the “low hanging fruit” and may or may not match up with demand.

What strategies do governments use to match open data they are able and willing to supply with demand from the public, from the business sector and from hacktivists? What steps can governments proactively take to match the supply of data provided with user demand?  How do we maintain interest to ensure that we can support the civic infrastructure needed to sustain open data efforts over the long haul?

The 2016 APDU conference will be visiting these questions during the session on “Building Demand for Open Data”.  Panelists will include Anthony Curio from Summit Consulting, a firm with deep experience in federal data topics, Stefaan Verhulst from the GovLab at New York University, author of the recent report on Open Data Impact, and Rebecca Williams from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence, who works with cities across the US to more promote the use of data.  The panel will be moderated by Cliff Cook, a planner with the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts and a member of the community’s Open Data Review Board.

Job Board August 2016

Welcome to the monthly APDU Job Board. Members are invited to submit job postings at their organization; the Board also includes a collection of public data-related positions (research, projections, etc.) from a variety of Federal, nonprofit, and private sources. You can submit your job postings to

APDU Conference Session: Data’s Essential Role in Effective Journalism

By Elizabeth Nash, Vice President of Data and Product Development, PolicyMap

Our team at PolicyMap works with the latest publicly available data on a daily basis. We’re also avid consumers of the news media, staying abreast of trending topics and all things public policy-related. Given the nexus of publicly available data and current events, I’ve often wondered how journalists, bloggers and those contributing meaningful news bytes to social media outlets obtain and work with meaningful data to craft their stories. News that we follow from outlets such as the New York Times, Slate, National Public Radio and our favorite policy wonks are rife with information about statistical changes over time and disparities across geographies.

We can quickly recognize the sources of the public and proprietary data that many journalists use, but I was curious to find out more about the connection between publicly available data and the news stories we’re ingesting. How do data journalists learn about what specific data is available for their stories, given the dizzying array of public data now available, thanks to the Open Data movement? And, as professionals with skills specific to weaving stories, how do they translate gigabytes of data into comprehensible and compelling narratives? I also wanted to learn about the differences, if any, among the use of publicly available data by media outlet type. That is, how traditional journalists, bloggers and professional social media reporters use publicly available data in different ways from each other across the journalism discipline.

To that end, I contacted Mark Horvit of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), who helped me to understand the profession of the data journalist. He referred me to a number of experts who could help illuminate the fascinating task of turning years’ worth of spreadsheets into carefully crafted stories. Data journalists rely on data analysis, rather than expert opinion. As an APDU Board Member, I was particularly interested in hearing about their processes and in exposing APDU members to their ways of thinking about publicly available data.

I’m proud to say that our panel, Data’s Essential Role in Effective Journalism, moderated by APDU Board Member Cliff Cook and me includes the following distinguished speakers:

  • Ben Casselman, Senior Editor and Chief Economics Writer,
  • D’Vera Cohn, Senior Writer and Editor, Pew Research Center
  • Sarah Cohen, Reporter, New York Times

I hope you’ll join us for this fascinating discussion about the role of data in the work of journalists who shape our daily lives with their stories relying on publicly available data.

Show off your data wares! Support the dialogue about innovation in public data

Join the conversation about innovative data products at the 2016 APDU Annual Conference in September.

Join as a sponsor or exhibitor.  We have a great group of sponsors and exhibitors already, but we would like you to join us.  Show off your new data product, your new web interface, or your new approach to mashing up survey, administrative, and big data.

APDU is where the leaders of federal statistical agencies meet data users and brainstorm the future of public data.  If you are an innovator and want to continue being one, you need to be at the conference.  Conference sponsors and exhibitors connect directly with federal statistical agency executives, data-driven policymakers and researchers from universities, think tanks, consulting businesses, and more.

Choose to sponsor or exhibit and get your organization and/or your produced featured prominently in displays at the Conference, displays on conference promotions, free conference registration, APDU membership, and speaking engagements at the conference and companion webinars. Click here for more information.

This year’s APDU Annual Conference sponsors include:





The Census Bureau’s mission is to serve as the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. They honor privacy, protect confidentiality, share our expertise globally, and conduct their work openly.

They are guided on this mission by scientific objectivity, a strong and capable workforce, devotion to research-based innovation, and an abiding commitment to our customers.


The Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s core objective is to address the nation’s most pressing and persistent challenges using evidence-based, multi-disciplinary approaches. They strive to create functional solutions that target the root causes, not just the symptoms, of these problems. The solutions must be both scalable nationally and sustainable without permanent philanthropy.


Summit Consulting, LLC is a specialized analytics advisory firm that guides Federal agencies, financial institutions, and litigators as they decode their most complex analytical challenges. Summit’s staff of Economists, Econometricians, and Research Scientists use quantitative techniques to assist our clients as they model risk, evaluate program performance, and predict future performance.


Infogroup are a big data, analytics and marketing services provider that delivers best in class data-driven customer-centric technology solutions. Our data and software-as-a-service (DaaS & SaaS) offerings help clients of all sizes, from small companies to FORTUNE 100TM enterprises, increase their sales and customer loyalty. Infogroup provides both digital and traditional marketing channel expertise that is enhanced by access to our proprietary data on 245MM individuals and 25MM businesses, which is distributed real-time to our clients.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) promotes a better understanding of the U.S. economy by providing the most timely, relevant, and accurate economic accounts data in an objective and cost-effective manner.




The mission of USDA’s Economic Research Service is to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America and to conduct high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.

ERS shapes its research program and products to serve those who routinely make or influence public policy and program decisions. Key clientele include White House and USDA policy officials; the U.S. Congress; program administrators/managers; other Federal agencies; State and local government officials; and organizations, including farm and industry groups interested in public policy issues.