Category Archives: 301

Evidence-Based Strategies for Creating an Open Data Impact

Despite global commitments to and increasing enthusiasm for open data, little is actually known about its use and impact. What kinds of social and economic transformation has open data brought about and what is its future potential? How—and under what circumstances—has it been most effective? How have open data practitioners mitigated risks and maximized social good? Even as proponents extol the virtues of open data, the field suffers from a lack of detailed evidence of the impact of open data, and, even more importantly, what contributed to that impact.

In this webinar, Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew Young of New York University’s Governance Lab ( will share lessons learned from a recent study undertaken in collaboration with Omidyar Network, aimed at addressing this lack of evidence. This in-depth analysis of 19 open data initiatives from across the globe uncovered new evidence of when, and how, open data works in practice. With a particular focus on the conditions that enable success and the key challenges to be mitigated in order to unlock positive social, economic, cultural and political open data impacts, Verhulst and Young will provide the type of operational, evidence-based guidance the field has largely lacked to date.

Stefaan Verhulst, Chief Research and Development Officer, The GovLab
Andrew Young, Associate Director of Research, the GovLab

The 2020 Census: A New Design for the 21st Century

The U.S. Census Bureau is researching modern and cost-efficient methods for the population to exercise its civic obligation to be counted in the 2020 Census. Whether through the Internet, telephone or traditional paper questionnaires, the Census Bureau is committed to making the mandatory once-a-decade headcount quick, easy and safe for all to participate. This presentation will provide an overview of the current plans for the 2020 Census and where the Census Bureau is headed in the next few years.

Deirdre Dalpiaz Bishop, Chief, Decennial Census Management Division, U.S. Census Bureau

Scaling the Mountain: Creating a Government-Wide Web Analytics Program, and Then Taking it Public

In 3.5 short years of existence, the Government Services Administration’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) has grown from zero to 4,000+ websites participating in an aggregated web analytics program that seeks to show a birds-eye view of public interaction with the federal digital space. With 45 agencies currently part of the program, the combined website traffic totals over 1.5 billion pageviews monthly, and the small-but-mighty DAP team trains, troubleshoots, and provides support to over 2,000 users.

Best of all, in March 2015, the DAP program teamed up with the US Digital Service, 18F, and the US CTO’s office to launch, which offers public data from the program. The new transparency allows members of the public and industry to view and use the federal government’s web analytics data for their own insights and analysis. In this webinar, attendees will learn how the federal government is using data from the Digital Analytics Program to improve the public’s experience with its websites, as well as how any member of the public can use the data on to better understand trends and technology.

Timothy Lowden, Acting Program Manager, General Services Administration

Special Topics and Emerging Issues in Public Data: Household Surveys in Crisis

Household surveys, one of the main innovations in social science research of the last century, are threatened by declining accuracy due to reduced cooperation of respondents. While many indicators of survey quality have steadily declined in recent decades, the literature has largely emphasized rising nonresponse rates rather than other potentially more important dimensions to the problem. Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago divides the problem into rising rates of nonresponse, imputation, and measurement error, documenting the rise in each of these threats to survey quality over the past three decades.

A fundamental problem in assessing biases due to these problems in surveys is the lack of a benchmark or measure of truth, leading us to focus on the accuracy of the reporting of government transfers. Dr. Meyer will provide evidence from aggregate measures of transfer reporting as well as linked microdata; discuss the relative importance of misreporting of program receipt and conditional amounts of benefits received, as well as some of the conjectured reasons for declining cooperation and survey errors; and end by discussing ways to reduce the impact of the problem including the increased use of administrative data and the possibilities for combining administrative and survey data.

Bruce D. Meyer, McCormick Foundation Professor, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

Special Topics and Emerging Issues in Public Data: Introducing the Commerce Data Service

The US Department of Commerce has long been in the business of data collection, processing and dissemination that touches almost every facet of American life. A natural evolutionary step for the Department is to ensure that the analytical and technologist public is able to maximally benefit from open data, whether it is to strengthen the economy or to better study and understand society. The Commerce Data Service (CDS), a new data-centric startup team within the Office of the Secretary, has launched the Commerce Usability Project, a wide ranging effort designed to:

  • Illustrate data use cases including new algorithms, visualizations, discovery or other applications;
  • Develop reference or tutorial code to help the power-user public to start using data for analysis or software development; and
  • Provide feedback and user stories centered on general data usability.

Satellite imagery, demographic data and cybersecurity vulnerabilities represent just a sampling of the myriad use cases and potential applications. In this session, the CDS provides an in-depth overview of the user-centric offerings of this growing effort and outlines a vision for data usability in the public sector.

Jeffrey Chen, Chief Data Scientist, US Department of Commerce
Star Ying, Data Scientist, US Department of Commerce

The Livability Index: Great Neighborhoods for All Ages

The Livability Index is a groundbreaking tool of the AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) that scores every neighborhood and community in the United States for the services and amenities that affect people’s lives the most. Using more than 50 national sources of data, the AARP Livability Index provides the clearest picture yet of how well a community meets the current and future needs of people of all ages. The Livability Index measures 60 indicators spread across seven categories of livability: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity.

By 2030, older adults will account for 20 percent of the U.S. population. AARP surveys consistently show that older adults overwhelmingly desire to age in their homes and communities. The Livability Index can be a powerful tool for local officials and others in adapting their cities so that residents of all ages can stay active and engaged in their communities. The Index will help community leaders and individuals identify gaps between what people want and need and what their communities provide.

Shannon Guzman, Policy Research Senior Analyst from PPI will discuss the Livability Index and give a brief overview of AARP’s work in livable communities, the development of the tool and give a demo of the new tool.

Shannon Guzman, Policy Research Senior Analyst, AARP Public Policy Institute

Production, Uses and Access to State and Local Population Projections

The Federal-State Cooperative for Population Projections (FSCPP) provides a means for state demographers and experts at the U.S. Census Bureau to learn from each other with the objective of improving projections, as the methods employed to project population vary substantially across the States.

The FSCPP recently completed a survey of state demographers regarding their population projections. In this webinar the officers of the FSCPP will present information about state projections including why they are needed, the geographic areas covered, methods and inputs used, types of data that are produced, and how the projections are distributed. The webinar will include case studies of challenges and uses of state population projections, and will conclude with a demonstration of ways state population projection data and supporting information can be accessed.


  • Lloyd B. Potter, Texas State Demographer, Texas State Data Center, University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Eddie Hunsinger, State Demographer, Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
  • Mathew Hauer, Director, Applied Demography Program, University of Georgia

CTPP: A Special Tabulation of US Census ACS data, and the Program Built Around It

The Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP) program is an umbrella program of data products, custom tabulations, training, technical assistance, and research for the transportation community. CTPP uses the American Community Survey (ACS). ACS requires accumulation of data over multiple years for tabulation for small geographic units.

Census data on demographic characteristics, home and work locations and journey to work travel flows are key inputs to a variety of state, regional and local transportation policy and planning efforts. They also support corridor and project studies, environmental analyses and emergency operations management.

In 1990, 2000, and 2006, AASHTO partnered with the states on pooled fund projects to support the development of these special census products and data tabulations for transportation. Since 2012, CTPP has been an ongoing Technical Service Program of AASHTO. This presentation covers a bit of history, a bit of data nuance and the current direction of the CTPP.

Penelope Weinberger , CTPP Program Manager, AASHTO

Statistics for the World of Open Data

In commemoration of World Statistics Day, Mark Elbert of the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Jay Meisenheimer of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will talk about the exciting and innovative ways their agencies are making their data available to the public to make it more accessible, insightful, and appealing. Meisenheimer will discuss how BLS uses data visualizations to tell interesting stories about the labor market and economy and Elbert will discuss how EIA uses relational metadata to create a data-ecosystem of interlinked online query tools, interactive charts and maps, and a robust open data program.

This webinar is co-sponsored by the American Statistical Association.

Mark Elbert, Director, Office of Web Management, Energy Information Administration
Jay Meisenheimer, Chief, Division of New Media, Bureau of Labor Statistics

The DATA Act: Delivering New Resources for Research – If All Goes Well

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) promises to transform the U.S. government’s finances by replacing disconnected documents with standardized and searchable data. The DATA Act requires the U.S. Treasury Department and the White House to work together to adopt government-wide data standards for the government’s spending information – everything from agencies’ financial statements to budget reports to grantee accountability to contracting databases.

Common data standards, including a government-wide recipient identifier and consistent data formats for account balances, will allow cross-agency searches and government-wide analytics for the first time. The impact of the DATA Act, if fully implemented, will go beyond democratic accountability. The law promises to create new management tools for data-driven decision-making as well. Learn how the DATA Act is creating a new era in spending transparency for the United States – if some significant challenges are overcome.

Hudson Hollister, Executive Director, Data Transparency Coalition