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APDU Conference: “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”

I am confident that all of you have heard this phrase in association with wedding ceremonies and how the brides prepare for the big event. Well, do you know why this is also an appropriate description for our big event, the APDU Annual Conference, to be held July 17-18, 2018?

A recurring theme throughout the agenda for this summer’s conference is the use of shared data from administrative records and surveys that are integrated in ways to create new and more informative data products for decision making. There are eight sessions focused on this issue and how the linking of administrative records and surveys is being prescribed and executed by federal, state, local and private organizations.

So how does the integration of administrative records and surveys by producers of public data relate to bridal preparations? First, this is not that new a process. Demographers have long combined data from birth and death certificates with census data to estimate fertility, mortality and migration rates. So that is the “Old” element which stands for continuity with the past. The “New” is meant to stand for optimism for the future. The “New” technical developments in record matching are greatly increasing the ability to link individual records from independent sources. However with this increased power have come concerns about privacy issues and maintaining public trust. “Something borrowed” because sharing increases the value of each of the items that are being shared. This requires overcoming legal barriers and institutional boundaries to reap the harvest of shared data. Finally, “something blue” stands for purity in the marriage ceremony. For the production of public data to assist policy making, it means that the integration of administrative records and survey data promise to compensate for the statistical weaknesses of each. The promise of more accurate data that are more representative, reliable and detailed.

I encourage you to accept our invitation to APDU’s Annual Conference, “Shaping The Future: The Promise Of Public Data To Inform Decisions.” Be a part of these exciting developments. Perhaps even bring along a bit of rice or bird seed to toss into the air as we celebrate these developments for public data.

APDU Data Viz Awards: Call for Visualizations

The Association of Public Data Users (APDU) is pleased to announce the 2018 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.

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 2017 APDU Data Viz Awards.

Winners will be invited to present at the 2018 APDU Annual Conference on July 17, 2018 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:

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 2017 and May 2018. 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 25, 2018

Create your own user feedback survey

State Data Sharing Initiative Reports Released!

We invite you to learn more about how to improve your economic and workforce development outcomes by using evidence to drive decision making.  The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) just released the report, “Advancing State Data Sharing for Better Economic and Workforce Development” and the tool “Legal Guide to Administrative Data Sharing for Economic and Workforce Development” that offer important lessons for states interested in enabling the responsible use of administrative records for program research and analysis.

Access to administrative records – wage records and corporate tax filings – can be invaluable for making evidence-based policy decisions.  Yet accessing those records can be difficult.  During the past 18 months CREC has been working with five states to determine solutions to data sharing challenges as part of its State Data Sharing Initiative.  The lessons learned are:

  1. States can “get to yes” by addressing cultural barriers to data sharing
  2. Clearly articulate the laws governing data sharing
  3. States need to dedicate resources to data sharing efforts
  4. Data sharing advocates must manage up and down to gain and sustain support
  5. Standardizing data sharing processes creates meaningful progress

The Legal Guide covers common issues when negotiating an agreement to securely share data and sets out guidance that facilitate the responsible use of administrative data for evidence-based policy making to the full extent of federal and state laws.

CREC has worked on the State Data Sharing Initiative over the past two years to inform more rigorous analysis of economic and workforce development programs by better understanding the barriers to accessing administrative records responsibly.  The project included research on the legislation guiding data sharing in all 50 states, assessments of improvements to evaluation efforts that fully respect taxpayer privacy, and technical assistance to five states that agreed to take significant action on their data sharing policies over an 18-month engagement.  All the research can be found on the website: www.statedatasharing.org.

In addition to these two papers, the State Data Sharing Initiative website also includes a variety of resources including:

  • A summary of key legislative language in all 50 states, plus companion federal legislation
  • A research report on the barriers to data sharing in the 50 states
  • A legal guide for preparing data sharing agreement based on frequently asked questions
  • A toolkit of case studies and examples of successes linked to data sharing
  • A list of relevant publications about a variety of data sharing and management issues
  • An executive highlights report summarizing lessons learned from the project

Check out this free resource, brought to you by CREC with funding support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

APDU Conference: Call for Proposals

The 2018 APDU Annual Conference (to be held on July 17-18, 2018 in Arlington, VA) invites APDU members and friends to submit proposals for presentations and panels related to our theme, “Shaping the Future:  The Promise of Public Data to Inform Public & Private Sector Decisions”. The Conference will bring together data users and data producers for conversations and presentations across a wide variety of data and statistical topics, including but not limited to:

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

We invite 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 how changes in public data, research techniques, and other advances will impact the way decisions are made in both the public and private sectors.  For the 2018 Conference, we are interested in presentations focused on:

Navigating the Public Data Landscape

  • Identifying the Data You Need
  • Preserving Data Privacy and Security
  • Responsibly Sharing and Disseminating Data

Realizing the Potential of Public Data

  • Linking Datasets
  • Selecting Sound Methods for Analysis
  • Developing Effective Data Visualizations
  • Leveraging Administrative Data

Deploying Data to Inform Decisions

  • Using Public Data in the Private Sector
  • Using Public Data in the State, Local, and Nonprofit Sector
  • Informing Evidence-Based Policymaking

Submissions may be for a single presentation or a full panel (three presenters, plus a moderator). APDU may accept portions of a panel proposal 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.

Please submit the proposal document available at this link to Brendan Buff at bbuff@crec.net. Please submit proposals by Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Proposers will be notified of our decision by February 28, 2018.

IMPORTANT DATES

Deadline:
January 31, 2018
Notification Date:
February 28, 2018
Registration Opens:
March 1, 2018
APDU Annual Conference:
July 17-18, 2018

 

Create your own user feedback survey

Changes to the ACS

The Census Bureau has announced its intention to revise the American Community Survey for 2019. Click here to view the file, with relevant changes highlighted.

You can view the Federal Register notice summarizing the changes here. Please consider submitting a comment if you have any concerns.

Telling Your Story Through Data Visualization

CLASS FULL

Download Agenda

Download Materials

Translating and analyzing big data using charts, graphics, and images is becoming more and more necessary for decision-making. The art of making compelling visuals is something that all professionals should learn. The purpose of this workshop is to introduce some basic concepts to help guide the selection of the right visualization to represent your data and to make those graphics impactful. You will also learn the mechanics of making the best graphics using two powerful and widely available software tools: Excel and Tableau. Receive hands-on help in learning how to use basic charts and graphs more effectively and learn powerful ways to present data that will forever change how you will present data to your audience.

Training pre-requisites
Skills: Familiarity with creating workbooks, worksheets, basic menus & toolbars
Tools: Laptop, wired mouse, Microsoft Excel 2013, Tableau Desktop (personal or professional)

Location
Courtyard Arlington Rosslyn

Pricing Early Bird Pricing
Through January 29, 2018)
After January 29, 2018
APDU, C2ER, LMI Institute Premium Organizational Members $ 630 $ 680
APDU, C2ER, LMI Institute Individual & Organizational Members $ 715 $ 765
Non-Members $ 895 $ 945

 

Trump Administration Indicates Support of 2020 Census

The Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on October 12 provided some reasons for optimism regarding the Trump Administration’s support of the Census Bureau. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testified before the committee and voiced support for appropriate funding of the 2020 Census. Further, the Administration plans to hire a comparable number of enumerators to the 2010 Census, which will be much more efficient due to the use of technology.  If you’d like to learn more about planning for the 2020 Census, consider attending the 2020 Census Quarterly Program Management Review on October 27 at 12:30 pm.

TAKEAWAYS:
  • The Census Bureau must focus on modernizing data collection and delivering necessary IT infrastructure in the most cost-effective manner.
  • The Census Bureau must ensure delivery of critical IT systems for 2018 end-to-end testing. Delays for delivery of critical IT systems pose significant risk for the security and the success of the census.
  • Secretary Ross provided a new life-cycle cost estimate of $15.6 billion dollars, an increase of $3.3 billion from the 2015 cost estimate.
  • Increasing costs are a concern. The Committee will monitor the Census Bureau’s management of the 2020 Census.

APDU Elections Committee Asks for Nominations

The Elections Committee is governed by the APDU By-Laws, Article 5.  The Committee is preparing a slate of candidates for Secretary  and an At-Large Board Member. Incumbent Secretary Sarah Burgoyne has decided to seek a 2nd term. Erin Holve, currently an At-Large Board Member, is not seeking a 2nd term.  The Elections Committee welcomes your suggestions as we prepare a slate of candidates. The deadline for suggestions to the Election Committee is October 31. Please send your nominations to Warren Brown at warren.brown@cornell.edu.

APDU Conference 2017: Exploring Data Resources for Addressing Policy Issues

By Elizabeth Nash, APDU Board Member

One of the many benefits of serving as the co-chair of this year’s APDU Conference was having the opportunity to review submissions for panels and presentations in our first-ever call for entries for the conference.  There were so many excellent submissions that it was very difficult to choose, but the conference committee did a wonderfully disciplined job of selecting the entries that aligned closely with our theme of communicating data around data innovation, integration and communication.  The conference committee had the enviable task of determining keynotes and assembling panels for the breakout sessions.  The breakout sessions are often one of the most useful aspects of the conference for me as the manager of data at PolicyMap, due to the fruitful discussions about using public data to understand public policy issues.

Which is why I chose to moderate and helped to design the breakout session, “Innovative Approaches to Understanding Our Most Pressing Public Policy Issues: Lessons in Education and Opportunity.”  The panel explored the use of public data in policy topics such as the opioid epidemic, homelessness and education and opportunity disparities.  Our panel consisted of three prominent professionals from progressive national think tanks and foundations. They discussed their research and recommendations for addressing issues faced by communities across the US.  They also discussed their methodologies that rely on publicly accessible data, as well as the materials produced by these initiatives that help policy practitioners, state and local governments, and advocates to address issues related to opportunity, well-being, education and public health.

 

Jennifer Thornton, Manager of Data as a Strategic Asset at Pew Charitable Trusts, discussed solving public policy problems with administrative data using five action steps that state governments can employ to address large-scale challenges. Jennifer explained that as states increasingly share their data across programs and agencies, and perform advanced analytics, they can attain a more accurate understanding of their resources, a more comprehensive picture of how services are used, and a greater understanding of the root cause of issues. Jennifer described the findings from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ 50-state study (forthcoming, will be available here) that focuses on the productive and creative ways states have used administrative data to address problems and inform decision-making. Jennifer shared compelling data success stories and data-driven strategies that a few states have used that others can adopt to solve public problems.

 

Laura Speer, Associate Director Policy Reform and Advocacy at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, discussed their perennially successful Kids Count Data Center and Data Book, and she described the annual media uptake of their resources around child well-being that her group packages and provides.  Laura talked about Annie E. Casey’s Race for Results project that focuses on children’s opportunity and success milestones across racial and ethnic groups.  Laura illuminated the necessity of public data in her work, as Kids Count relies on sources including the National Survey of Children’s Health, the National Vital Statistics System, the U.S. Census and the U.S. Census’s American Community Survey.

 

Courtney Brown, Vice President of Strategic Impact at Lumina Foundation, talked about Lumina Foundation’s dedication to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60% by 2025, their “Goal 2025.”  She explained that for Lumina Foundation to achieve this goal, they need to be able to understand the current education levels and certifications of Americans, and they need to track those data over time.  She discussed the pivotal role of the American Community Survey’s postsecondary attainment data in their new online data tool, A Stronger Nation.  She also discussed the challenge with finding data related to high-quality certificates and other credentials because those achievements are not included in the standard Census ACS categories.

The panel wrapped up with an engaging exchange around each of the panelists’ topic areas, as well as a conversation about the growing appetite for data and data visualization and packaging, as researchers increasingly rely on publicly available tools to address public policy issues.

This blog post also appears in the PolicyMap Mapchats blog.  Check out Mapchats for another view of the conference.

Reflections on APDU 2017

By Cliff Cook, President, Association of Public Data Users

This past week APDU held a very successful 40th annual conference in Arlington, VA.  With the meeting fresh in mind, this is a good moment for reflections on themes that emerged across the various speakers and sessions. First though, I want to thank all our sponsors, speakers and our staff from CREC who ably handled the many logistical challenges.

What I found most striking as both a participant and sometimes moderator is the relentless focus on the need to change governance and policy arrangements around data.  The interest, demand for and sheer quantity of data generated today is leaving behind policies often dating to an era of mainframe computing and strictly siloed data sets, where data was considered a minor part of IT.  Yet, these institutional holdovers may confound efforts to develop innovative policies and, in particular, link data sets both within and between producers to fully tap their potential. The flip side of this problem is that we have begun to recognize this as a fundamental impediment to progress.

Keynote speakers, panels and sponsors addressed data governance from different vantage points.  Nancy Potok, eight months into her tenure as Chief Statistician of United States, focused her keynote on the priorities for the federal statistical system.  The panel discussion on the Commission on Evidence Based Policymaking emphasized that asking  public data to serve the public interest in the 21st century requires new federal programming and legislation to give agencies and researchers unhindered access to data. Chief among their concerns is how to accomplish this goal while respecting Americans’ concerns about privacy.

Echoing one of the recommendations of the Commission’s recently released report, George Aiken and Gary Yakimov discussed the need to separate management of data resources from IT.  They called for the creation of a new type of organizational role centered around data and headed by a senior-level manager, a Chief Data Officer in Aiken’s words, who will take charge of developing data governance and policy setting, while managing an agency’s overall data program.

The need for new governance arrangements extends to the private sector as well. Stefaan Verlhurst, from the GovLab at NYU, cited how the emerging market for both public and private data will drive the creation of a suite of new data sharing arrangements, in particular data collaboratives. Data.world, a conference sponsor, gave an Ignite lighting presentation on their use of the linked open data concept, pioneered by Tim Berners-Lee, as way to connecting a wide range of desperate data across topics and organizations into a single seamless “data web”.

My flight is just approaching now Boston so this is a good point at which to wrap up this post.  Be sure to join us at APDU in 2018!