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Announcing: 2017 APDU Data Viz Awards Winners

The 2017 APDU Data Viz Awards winners have been selected by the APDU nominating committee.

The Association of Public Data Users is pleased to announce an outstanding group of public data visualizations from 2017. This year’s visualizations include infographics, maps, and graphical interfaces using programs such as ArcGIS and Tableau. Register for the conference today to learn more about these visualizations and how they were created.

APDU thanks all of those who submitted visualizations – the choices were not easy to make.

We would like to congratulate the following organizations:

Federal Government Category

USPTO PatentsView – US Patent and Trademark Office

  • Amanda Myers, US Patent and Trademark Office
  • Dino Citraro, Periscopic
  • Kim Rees, Periscopic

Energy Consumption and Production in Agriculture – USDA Economic Research Service

  • Claudia Hitaj, USDA Economic Research Service
  • Lori Fields, USDA Economic Research Service

Private Firms Category

Visualizing the Condition of U.S. Lakes – Crow Insight

  • Mike Crow, Crow Insight
  • Sarah Lehmann, US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Amina Pollard, US Environmental Protection Agency

Researchers and Students Category

Mapping Financial Opportunity – Institute for Policy & Social Research, University of Kansas

  • Terri Friedline, Institute for Policy & Social Research, University of Kansas
  • Xan Wedel, Institute for Policy & Social Research, University of Kansas
  • Kirk Jackson, New America
  • Justin King, New America

State and Local Government Category

2010-2014 Women in the Workforce – Utah Department of Workforce Services

  • Lecia Parks Langston, Utah Department of Workforce Services


APDU Board Member Provides FY18 Appropriations Update

Last week, Congress adjourned for its traditional August recess, leaving unfinished business, and an unclear path forward, on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 appropriations bills—bills essential to keeping the federal government open once the current fiscal year ends on September 30.  This is a common refrain. 1994 was the last time Congress passed all 12 appropriations bills before the fiscal year ended.

Most of the 12 funding bills have passed the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and are awaiting floor action where they will either be considered individually, or, more likely, as part of a larger omnibus spending package.  Before leaving for the August recess, the House of Representatives passed a minibus spending measure that included 4 bills funding, among other things, the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Rumors abound that the remaining 8 appropriations bills will be merged with the 4-bill security appropriations bill and sent to the House floor in September. The U.S. Senate leadership has neither expressed enthusiasm for this approach nor indicated yet what its strategy will be for moving FY 2018 appropriations bills. Given this uncertainty and the tight time frame, Congress may pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government operating after September 30.

While the FY 2018 funding outlook for all federal statistical agencies is bleak, APDU is particularly concerned about the Census Bureau.   Neither the House nor Senate FY 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bills provide the agency with sufficient funding to prepare for Census 2020. Further, if Congress passes a CR, census stakeholders worry the legislation may not provide the agency with a funding anomaly—an outcome that would further hinder keeping even limited Census 2020 preparations on track.

APDU will continue to monitor these developments and work with other organizations to ensure all federal statistical agencies receive sufficient funding and support in FY 2018.  At the APDU annual meeting next month, participants will hear from an expert panel of Washington insiders who will address not only the current state of appropriations, but also how data users and stakeholders can more effectively represent the needs of statistical agencies when communicating with policymakers.

Data and Budgeting for an Effective Economy

Federal statistical data plays an integral role in decision-making within businesses and government. It is important that the data be obtained and reviewed with a high level of rigor to maintain its integrity, and this requires sufficient support from Congress. A large amount of data comes directly from the Federal government thanks in part to agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and most prominently, the Census Bureau. These agencies are all in line to endure cuts from the Trump Administration’s budget.

Supporters of the Census Bureau have raised concerns that the agency isn’t receiving the funds necessary to adequately perform the decennial Census. Government collected data has long been considered the “Gold Standard” of data resources, and for good reason; these agencies are fiercely dedicated to providing accurate, unbiased statistics. Our country depends on these statistics as a kind of lubricant for our economy; the better the information, the more efficient its operation.

We use the Census to determine how our local constituencies are represented. The BEA produces statistics that measure U.S. economic performance, like GDP. The BLS tracks our national unemployment rate, and the demographic statistics that compose the greater national reporting. Cutting funding for these programs could have negative repercussion to our economy and society.

The impact the Administration’s proposed budget has on the Census is particularly concerning. Compared to years past, the proposed funding ramp-up to the decennial Census is far behind, especially considering the new method the Census is interested in testing. The primary function of the Census is to make record of every person residing in our nation, and the Bureau is working to find better ways to execute the most accurate count possible. The Bureau understands that even a successful Census count, like the one 2010, comes with errors, and they are seeking out ways to improve their processes.

Citizens that change residences frequently can be missed, and those with more than one home are sometimes counted multiple times, or do not respond to the standard data collecting methods at all. This has a direct impact on political apportionment, and we should be encouraging the Census to develop new, modern techniques, not battling for funding that barely allows the Bureau to keep valuable programs like the American Community Survey (ACS) afloat. Using new methods to perform such a daunting task undoubtedly comes with uncertainty, but the Bureau of the Census estimate that investing in updates could save over $5 billion when compared to their traditional data collecting methods.

The BLS and BEA both serve to provide policy and business leaders with essential macroeconomic indicators. Monthly unemployment and national GDP statistics are developed by these agencies respectively. Those two statistical programs alone are immensely powerful, and important decisions, including the allocation of government funding and business development resources, are made with this information in mind.

These two programs aside, the Administration’s budget request explicitly states of the BLS that the Bureau “may need to delay or defer spending on…certain data improvement…and research projects”, a statement that goes without saying considering the FY18 budget request doesn’t even allow the BLS to cover needed budget adjustments resulting from inflation. The National Economic Accounts, which produces the crown jewel of the BEA, annual GDP, faces a sharp 12% reduction in funding which will require the BEA to do away with developing new programs, like the International Trade in Services initiative, completely. In their Congressional budget estimate write-up, the Department of Commerce reports that, “Without these new data, U.S. businesses, trade negotiators, state and local planners, and other policy-makers will lack critical data to guide future economic decisions.”

Quality government provided statistics are an imperative that transcends the political spectrum; Democrats and Republicans alike can understand the important role that the government has in providing accurate data for Congress. Members of the House and Senate need to know who they are representing if it is incumbent upon them to advocate for their needs. Further, good statistics are needed by both the private and public sectors. Free markets are more productive and efficient when business decisions are informed with reliable data. Good work from the Federal Statistical Agencies raises all the boats in the harbor. This part of our government is too connected to economic activities that result in jobs and wages to not receive the support it needs. The implications of the work done by agencies like the Census Bureau should be considered paramount to the government’s effort in promoting prosperity.

The Census Bureau requires upwards of $1.8B in FY2018 to perform the preparations necessary to conduct a full decennial Census. This upfront investment will ultimately save money and improve the quality of the data. BLS and BEA also have been facing cuts to vital programs due to a lack of funding and staffing and need your support. Contact your representatives to let them know you want them to support Federal data programs. The Census Project, C2ER, LMI Institute, and APDU will keep you up to date as the budget develops.

Why Should You Attend the APDU Annual Conference?

The 2017 APDU Annual Conference, to be held on September 13-14, 2017 in Arlington, VA, has something for everyone. Our breakout sessions on data integration, innovation, and communication were submitted by a talented group of APDU members and reflect the topics on the minds of our membership. The Washington Briefing will provide an update on legislative and Trump Administration issues regarding public data. Our second annual Data Viz Awards will show attendees innovative ways of presenting the results of their research. Other sessions will feature leaders from the Census Bureau, BLS, BEA, and NCHS to speak on the futures of their agencies.


APDU has many different types of members, and there are excellent reasons for each type to attend the Annual Conference.

Federal Agencies

  • Gain feedback on your data programs from knowledgeable users of public data.
  • Learn from and collaborate with other federal statistical agencies.
  • Suggested session: “Data Integration to Improve Program Effectiveness” will examine how Federal agencies use administrative data for evaluation and research.

State/Local Government

  • Discover how other local governments are using and disseminating data programs.
  • Learn how administrative data and the federal and state level will help your work.
  • Suggested session: “Applied Uses of Integrated Administrative Data – State and Local Initiatives” on how public agencies and non-profits are seeking ways to link data across using public and administrative data to create greater value in analyzing policies and evaluating programs.

Nonprofits/Research Organizations

  • Learn how other organizations are conducting research and presenting their findings.
  • Identify new data sources and research methods that can supplement your research.
  • Suggested session: “New (Innovative) Tools and Techniques to Empower Policymakers and the Public” will demonstrate a text-mining tool to pull insights from federal regulations, among other interesting innovations in analysis.


  • Engage with potential clients in a forum that emphasizes networking and conversation.
  • Discover new data sets and methods that can supplement your proprietary data products.
  • Suggested session: “Census Bureau: Today and Tomorrow” will present on the new platform that will change how businesses access important Census data, updates for the decennial Census, and more.


  • Learn about new and updated federal data programs and how they will benefit your students and faculty.
  • Connect with peers for opportunities to collaborate and share tricks of the trade.
  • Suggested session: “Enhancing Data Literacy” is designed to help you teach novice data users how to engage with unfamiliar data sources.

These are just some of many good reasons to attend the 2017 APDU Annual Conference.
Register today!

Letter Supporting FY18 Budget for the Bureau of Economic Analysis

One of the ways that APDU supports the work of the federal data system is through joining with other organizations in offering formal support for the various agencies. APDU recently signed onto a letter of support for the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The letter, organized by the American Statistical Association, asks that Congress maintain the modest budget of this crucial agency. You can find the letter here.

Expanding Training on Data and Technology to Improve Communities

Local government and nonprofit staff need data and technology skills to regularly monitor local conditions and design programs that achieve more effective outcomes. Tailored training is essential to help them gain the knowledge and confidence to leverage these indispensable tools. In Spring 2016, the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) and Microsoft’s Civic Technology Engagement Group partnered to explore how to expand community training on data and technology for government and nonprofit staff members.

Based on insights from the field, the authors offer four recommendations to assist government agencies, elected leaders, nonprofit executives, and local funders in empowering workers with the necessary training to use data and technology to benefit their communities.  Specifically, community stakeholders should collectively work to expand the training available to government and nonprofit staff; foster opportunities for sharing training materials and lessons; identify allies who can enhance and support local training efforts; and assess the local landscape of data and technology training.

The project offers a new set of resources to help promote the expansion of training to a variety of local actors.

  • Brief: A summary of the current training landscape and key action steps to ensure that local government and nonprofit staff have the data and technology skills needed for their civic missions.
  • Guide: A document for organizations interested in providing community data and technology training, including advice on how to assess local needs, develop training content, and fund these efforts.
  • Catalog: Example training descriptions and materials collected from various cities for local adaptation.
  • Fact sheet: A summary of results from a survey on current training content and practices.

2017 APDU Data Viz Awards

APDU Data Viz Awards: Call for Visualizations!

The Association of Public Data Users (APDU) is pleased to announce our second annual Data Viz Awards! APDU is once again soliciting creative and meaningful graphic designs that use publicly-available data (for example, data from the Census Bureau or Bureau of Labor Statistics) to convey a compelling point or story.

About the Award

APDU started the Data Viz Awards in response to our members’ growing need to communicate their data and research to a variety of audiences using graphic technologies and cutting edge techniques. APDU hopes to engage data users and help them understand and share data for analysis and decision making.

The Data Viz Awards take pride in recognizing eye-catching and easy-to-comprehend images building on publicly-available data. Click here to view the award-winning visualizations from the 2016 APDU Data Viz Awards.

Winners will be invited to present at the  2017 APDU Annual Conference on September 14, 2017 in Arlington, VA. Winners in the “Researchers & Students” category will also receive a free APDU membership for 2018.

What We’re Looking For

APDU will select creative and compelling images, in four categories:

  1. State/Local Government;
  2. Federal Government;
  3. Private firms, which can include consultancies, advocacy groups, or any other private firms using public data; and
  4. Researchers & Students, which can include any visuals published or formally presented by researchers or students in higher education, think tanks, research organizations, or similar.

Submissions must have been made publicly available between June 2016 and May 2017. We are accepting submissions that appeared in a published research paper or article either in print or on the web, in a public presentation, as a stand-alone infographic, as a website feature, and/or as another official product.

Extended Deadline: Friday, July 14, 2017

Help Protect Workplace Safety Data

Two former commissioners of the Bureau of Labor Statistics representing both political parties wrote to the leaders of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) opposing the repeal of the OSHA injury recordkeeping rule. This rule requires the collection of injury records of employers dating back five years. Please inform your networks about this important rule and tell them to contact the HELP committee to inform them about the value of this data.

Click here to read the letter.

President’s Budget Overview for Public Data

On Thursday, March 16th, the Trump Administration released its long awaited first budget proposal. What will this mean for researchers, businesses, and local, state, and federal agencies? APDU Executive Director CEO Ken Poole provides an overview of President Trump’s proposed budget changes related to economic development and federal statistical programs.

  • Provides $1.5 billion, an increase of more than $100 million, for the U.S. Census Bureau to continue preparations for the 2020 Decennial Census. This additional funding prioritizes fundamental investments in information technology and field infrastructure, which would allow the bureau to more effectively administer the 2020 Decennial Census.
  • Consolidates the mission, policy support, and administrative functions of the Economics and Statistics Administration within the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Department of Commerce’s Office of the Secretary.
  • Reduces funding for USDA’s statistical capabilities, while maintaining core Departmental analytical functions, such as the funding necessary to complete the Census of Agriculture.

Help Support Federal Data!

With a new Congress and Administration, it is important to reiterate to policymakers the importance of federal data programs. Click here to find a letter asking members of Congress to support and fund Federal statistics.

*Those signing as individuals will have their organizations listed for identification purposes only.


List of Signatories