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APDU Conference Chair Invites You to the APDU Annual Conference

As 2019 APDU Annual Conference Committee Chair, I would like to cordially invite you to attend what is shaping up to be a fantastic 2019 APDU Annual Conference July 9 – 10 at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, VA.  The 2019 Annual Conference “Wide World of Data” will focus on three main themes this year: the breadth of public data; diverse uses of public data; and what is being done to strengthen and support the public data system.  The conference will once again be an excellent opportunity for users and producers of public data to connect, share information, and learn.

I myself being an economist at the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) am excited as both a producer and user of public data to attend the APDU Annual Conference.  As a producer of public data I am eagerly looking forward to discussions about the pros and cons of using differential privacy with public data as well as the use of machine learning and algorithms with public data.  I want to hear an update about the latest information on the federal statistical agency reorganization proposed by the administration. I am looking forward for the opportunity to meet users of BEA data.

As a user of public data I am excited to hear the latest developments with regard to data from colleagues at the U.S Census Bureau, U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, and the Kentucky Center for Statistics.  I am looking forward to learning how public data is being used to inform decision making from speakers from Georgetown University, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, the University of Alabama Institute for Rural Health Research, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and more. Finally, I am especially thrilled by the opportunity to hear from statistical agency leadership including, the Directors of both the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

I look forward to seeing you at the 2019 APDU Annual Conference.

APDU Data Viz Awards: Call for Visualizations

The Association of Public Data Users (APDU) is pleased to announce the 2019 Data Viz Awards. We are 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.
Winners will be invited to present at the 2019 APDU Annual Conference on July 10, 2019 in Arlington, VA. Winners in the “Researchers & Students” category will also receive a free APDU membership for 2019.

What We’re Looking For

APDU will select creative and compelling images in four categories:

  • State/Local government, including independent and quasi-independent agencies;
  • Federal government, including independent and quasi-independent agencies;
  • Private firms, which can include consultancies, advocacy groups, or any other private firms using public data; and
  • Researchers/Students, which can include any visuals published or formally presented by researchers or students in higher education, think tanks, research organizations, nonprofits, or similar.

Submissions must have been made publicly available between June 2018 and May 2019. 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.

Deadline: Friday, May 17, 2019

Create your own user feedback survey

364 Days Until Census Day 2020!

APDU staff attended the Census 2020: Navigating the National and Local Challenges panel discussion hosted by the Brookings Institution to hear legal, demographic, and Census experts discuss a Decennial Census that has garnered interest both for its importance and for its controversies. Primary questions from the meeting revolved implications of including the citizenship question in the Decennial Census, cybersecurity, and how to encourage residents to respond.

Former Census Bureau Director John Thompson noted that there is “no basis for the citizenship question” and that agency research indicates that it will decrease the response rate. Brookings Senior Fellow William Frey supported Thompson’s statements by emphasizing the importance of gathering this community data and the impacts it will have on communities’ federal funding, private grant dollars, and resources to serve the right population.

Thompson shared that the Census Bureau was underfunded from 2012 – 2017, so the Bureau prioritized shifting from the traditional paper collection to an automated and online process. He noted the Bureau is constantly working on improving cybersecurity and is committed to keeping residents’ responses safe and confidential.

The second panel facilitated by the National League of Cities’ CEO Clarence Anthony focused on the implications and efforts at the local level to ensure the best data possible is collected. Beth Link, the Director of Census Counts, encouraged communities to educate their elected officials and noted that there will be questionnaire assistance centers to help make the necessary technology accessible to communities where it’s needed and to help answer questions as residents complete the forms.

APDU will continue to monitor 2020 Census preparations and will serve as a resource to our members moving forward. To learn more and hear directly from Census Bureau leadership, join us at the APDU Annual Conference in Arlington, VA on July 9-10, 2019.

Resources shared during the discussion include:

Recordings of the Panels can be found below.

2019 Annual Conference Call for Proposals

2019 APDU Annual Conference

July 9-10, 2019

Arlington, VA

“Wide World of Data”

Breadth of public data

Diverse uses of government data

Strengthening & supporting the public data system

EXTENDED DEADLINE: February 11, 2019

The 2019 APDU Annual Conference is welcoming APDU members and friends to join with our theme of “Wide World of Data” by submitting a proposals for presentations or panels related to public data. The conference, to be held in Arlington, VA on July 9-10, 2019, brings together data users and data producers for conversations and presentations on a wide variety of data and statistical topics, including but not limited to:

  • Data collection, production, and delivery
  • Emerging data issues
  • New data sources and tools
  • Relevant data dissemination technologies
  • Statistical policy

We are inviting proposals on any topic relating to public data, whether based on a particular project, data practice, or formal paper.  In keeping with the theme of the conference, our interest is in highlighting the breadth of public data to both producers and consumers of public data.  We are interested in presentations focused on the past, present, and future of public data such as:

  • Past uses of public data
  • Present/new uses of public data
  • Future of public data – what would consumers of data like to be able to do that they currently cannot do
  • Current availability of public data (health, education, the economy, energy, the environment, climate, and other areas)
  • New developments in public data
    • Newly available data
    • Significant changes/improvements to data
    • New data tools for dissemination, analytics, data visualization, clean-up of data, and user feedback
  • Public data as an input to other public data
  • Administrative data
  • Data privacy – differential privacy vs data suppression
  • Reorganization proposal to combine Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Reorganization proposals for Economic Research Service and Bureau of Transportation Statistics
  • Advancements in state/local data programs

You may submit ideas for a single presentation or a full panel (three presenters, plus a moderator). However, it is possible that we will accept portions of panel submissions to combine with other presenters. Submissions will be evaluated on the quality of work, relevance to APDU Conference attendees, uniqueness of topic and presenter, and thematic fit.

Proposals  will need to be submitted by members of APDU, and all presenters in a panel must register for the conference (full conference registration comes with a free APDU membership).

You must be a member of APDU to submit a proposal, whether a single presentation or a panel. For panel submissions, not all panelists need to be members at the time of submission.  All accepted presenters must register for the conference. Current members will be assessed the discounted membership rate. For presenters who are not currently members, full conference registration will come with a free APDU membership.

We will be accepting proposals until February 11, 2019 (deadline extended due to Federal shutdown). Proposers will be notified of our decision by February 28, 2019. Contact Brendan Buff at bbuff@crec.net if you have any questions.   

We look forward to hearing from you!

Create your own user feedback survey

APDU Election Results

APDU is pleased to announce the results of the elections for our Board of Directors. Our new Officers and At-Large Directors include:

President: Kevin McAvey, Senior Manager, Manatt Health

Vice President: Mary Jo Hoeksema, Director of Government Affairs, Population Association of America and Association of Population Centers

At-Large Director: Susan Copella, Director, Pennsylvania State Data Center (PaSDC), Institute of State and Regional Affairs, Penn State Harrisburg

At-Large Director: Beth Jarosz, Senior Research Associate, Population Reference Bureau

Join us in giving a warm welcome to our new members. Congratulations!

John Abowd of the Census Bureau Calls for Response to Federal Register Notice

By John Abowd, Associate Director for Research and Methodology at the US Census Bureau. 

The blog referenced below was just released on www.census.gov. It explains how our new disclosure avoidance methods protect confidentiality and fitness-for-use. More importantly, it calls attention to the Federal Register Notice posted here (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/07/19/2018-15458/soliciting-feedback-from-users-on-2020-census-data-products) soliciting user feedback on the 2010 Census data products.

It is imperative that sophisticated data users respond to this FRN. As my new blog makes clear, we can control the fitness-for-use of the 2020 Census data products, but the Census Bureau cannot give every use case the same margin-of-error (just as we currently cannot give every statistic from the ACS the same MOE). The use case for the PL94-171 redistricting data is written into that statute. It is the only use case currently reflected in the design of the 2020 Census disclosure avoidance system. Other data users must  supply information that demonstrates how the categorical and geographic detail in historical summary and detailed data tables, national and state demographic profiles, and topical briefs translates into their own use cases.

Public Data Leaders Gather to Look Ahead:  Closing Thoughts on our 2018 APDU Conference

By: Kevin McAvey, Vice President, Association of Public Data Users

This year, in mid-July, public data collectors and users across the country gathered in Arlington, Virginia to discuss the future of public data and its promise to inform public and private sector decisions.  From Stanford University librarians to data-reliant private sector executives to commissioners of our nation’s top statistical agencies, all reaffirmed their unwavering belief in the value of public data and of the unique perspective APDU’s Annual Conference provides in understanding how our critical public data resources continue to evolve.

APDU President Cliff Cook set the tone of this year’s conference, challenging participants to not only look at what we have accomplished over the past year, but to take the opportunity to engage other APDU members in where we need to go from here.  The opening panel, which I had the privilege of moderating, only reinforced the point.  Nancy Potok, Chief Statistician of the United States, and Nick Hart, Director of the Evidence-based Policymaking Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center, outlined for APDU participants how the federal data landscape is changing in important and beneficial ways.  They discussed the impact the Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act has had on how federal policies are developed, and highlighted recent steps the federal government is taking to rationalize our federal data agency resources in the pursuit of a comprehensive federal “data strategy.”

Data strategies are methodical plans to connect data users to the data they need, when they need it.  They are foundational to enhancing and modernizing any data ecosystem, and have long been a staple of many data-reliant private sector industries (including my own, healthcare).  It was uplifting and encouraging to hear the breadth and depth of thought our federal data policy leaders are investing into our nation’s long-term public data plans – and the earnestness with which they want feedback.  Dr. Potok, in particular, encouraged all APDU members to submit use cases to their federal data strategy website, and to stay in-touch as an active and engaged constituency.

Per usual for so many of us, the 2018 APDU Conference rolled quickly – too quickly – on from there, engaging members around public data updates and cross-cutting public data challenges.  A small sampling of the topics included:

·        Shari Laster, Head of Open Stacks at Arizona State University, led a panel on how we should all think about preserving “born-digital” public data, in an era where our knowledge and records can (literally) be deleted with a click;

·        Kathy Pettit, Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute, moderated presentations and discussions around key indicator innovations around housing, consumer credit, and labor market reporting;

·        Mary Jo Hoeksema, the Director of Government and Public Affairs at the Population Association of America, tag-teamed APDU’s staple “Washington Briefing” with James Dyer of Baker Donelson, providing audience members an inside – and off-the-record – look at the “on the Hill” challenges facing our country’s federal statistical programs; and

·        Warren Brown, APDU’s President Emeritus and Research Faculty at Cornell University, rounded out our critical technical conversations, leading a panel discussing on best practices for linking administrative and survey data.

The APDU Conference’s second day was also treated to a lunchtime conversation with Erica Groshen, former BLS Secretary and current Cornell University Visiting Senior Scholar, John Thompson, Executive Director of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, and a (returning) Dr. Potok, where they discussed the federal government’s recent proposals to significantly reorganize several federal data agencies.

The 2018 APDU Conference was another successful event created by members for members, and left all with a better sense of the year behind us.  Even more importantly, however, the Conference primed us for the critical decisions and steps that lay ahead, as we collectively reshape our public data environment to meet our rapidly evolving data needs.

Thank you all for joining us, and I hope to see you all again in 2019.

Important Changes at the Economic Research Service

The Secretary of Agriculture announced on Thursday, August 9 that the Economic Research Service will undergo several significant changes in the coming year. USDA is moving ERS out of the Research, Education, and Economics area of the USDA to the Secretary’s Office of the Chief Economist.  The rationale is that this move will better align the missions of ERS and the Chief Economist.

In addition, most ERS and NIFA personnel will have to relocate outside of the Washington, DC metro area to an undetermined location. In fact, USDA also announced on August 9, its search for a site selection consultant to help with this process. Since the new locations have yet to be determined, it is possible that ERS and NIFA may be co-located when their new homes are found as expected by the end of 2019.

Finally, USDA recently announced that Mary Bohman, the Administrator of the Economic Research Service, will move to a new position the Office of the Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to serve as Associate Administrator (Economics), on September 2, 2018.

USDA Secretary Perdue provided the following reasons for these changes:

“1. To improve (their) ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from our land-grant universities. (They’ve) seen significant turnover in these positions, and it has been difficult to recruit employees to the Washington, DC area, particularly given the high cost of living and long commutes.

2. To place these important USDA resources closer to many of (their) stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from the DC area.

3. To benefit the American taxpayers. There will be significant savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets.”

These are controversial changes that have significant impacts on public statistics and signal intent by the Trump Administration to move forward on other changes to agencies, especially if they can be done through administrative action. Former USDA ERS Commission Katherine Smith Evans, now of the American Economic Association, recently wrote an editorial on proposed funding cuts for ERS – the agency faces significant threats to funding, staff, and mission.  APDU will keep you informed as further as this issue develops and will join with others to serve as your voice to address our shared concerns on these issues.

UPDATE 10/18: APDU President Calls for Members to Comment on Federal Data Policy

UPDATE 10/18: The Department of Commerce is requesting  Phase 2 comments on the Federal Data Strategy. The request for comments, Request for Comments on the Cross-Agency Priority Goal: Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset: Phase 2, is open until November 16, 2018. The 47 draft practices of the Federal Data Strategy for also have a request for comment due by Nov 16 .  The revised principles of the Federal Data Strategy is based on comments to the June request for comments.

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Calls for Comments from federal statistical agencies have long been part of the APDU Newsletter.  The summer  turned out to be a busy time both for the Census Bureau and for the interagency staff working on the Federal Data Strategy.  We want to point out to our readers pending requests for comments from these two groups of particular importance:

  • Request for Comments on the Cross-Agency Priority Goal: Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset:
    Comments are requested on the proposed high level pillars and principles for the Federal Data Strategy. Comments on this notice must be received by July 27, 2018.
  • Call for Use Cases to Inform the First federal Data Strategy:
    This call is in support of the Federal Government’s commitment to create a comprehensive Federal Data Strategy as part of the Cross-Agency Priority Goal Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset.  Proposals should be received July 27.
  • Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; 2020 Census:
    This request invites comments on 2020 Census office and field operations. Noteworthy topics include the manner in which citizenship data will be provided to the states, which in turn might lead to a design change in PL 94-171 redistricting data file, the use of administrative records and procedures around internet self-response.  To ensure consideration, written comments must be submitted on or before August 7, 2018.
  • Soliciting Feedback From Users on 2020 Census Data Products:
    The Census Bureau is currently planning the potential suite of 2020 Census data products and is seeking data user feedback to help understand how the public uses decennial census data products. The Census Bureau is especially interested in receiving responses to specific questions outlined in the FRN.  Public feedback is essential for a complete review of the decennial data products and will assist the Census Bureau in prioritizing products from the 2020 Census.  An informational webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, July 31 from 2:00 – 3:00 and will provide answers to questions about the feedback process.  Comments on this notice must be received by September 17, 2018.

We know our readers are all busy professionals, but we urge you to take the time to read, think about , and respond to at least one of these requests.  This is our opportunity to affect federal data policy for the next several years. When we met with agency staff at last week’s APDU conference in they were clear that they want to hear from us and invited us to provide feedback.