Category Archives: Front Page

Posts and Pages with this category appear in the slider on the front page

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.

APDU President Calls for Members to Comment on Federal Data Policy

Calls for Comments from federal statistical agencies have long been part of the APDU Newsletter.  This summer has 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.

Why PolicyMap Loves the APDU Conference

By: Bernie Langer, PolicyMap

The first time I went to APDU, my first reaction was that I’d never before been around so many people who speak my language. We were talking about Census data, BLS data, education data, health data… I was around people who work on the same things that I spend my life working on. It was like visiting my home planet for the first time!

At PolicyMap, we’re concerned with collecting and mapping public data. We have a team that scours the web for new and interesting data, and ideas for what to do with it. We also have users that reach out and tell us what data they want us to add. Keeping up to date is important to us, and something we feel we do well. But just keeping current isn’t enough; we need to be ready to anticipate changes in the data universe.

And that’s why it’s so important to have a conference like APDU, where we can really hear what people around the country (and around the world) are talking about in the realm of public data. Experts, practitioners, data providers, and public officials are all there, discussing their work, their challenges, and their solutions.

One of the most valuable things we get from APDU is hearing from government data providers on the latest in their departments. There are usually various people from the Census speaking on topics ranging from the progress of the upcoming Census to the design of the ACS survey envelope. The Census Bureau isn’t the only game in town, and it’s great hearing from people at other organizations like the BLS and the National Center for Education Statistics.

After two days of sessions and conversations with fellow data people, you start to get a sense of big picture trends in data. Last year, there was a lot of talk about the possible decline of survey data in favor of administrative data and commercial data. Administrative data has really been the buzzword of the decade, and right now, it’s still the Wild West of data. APDU is a great forum for hearing about and discussing the best practices for working in this emerging area.

But what really makes APDU a necessary conference is the opportunity to meet people doing similar work across the country. Some of it is just sharing ideas and talking shop. But thanks to people we’ve met at APDU, we’re working on major new projects that wouldn’t have been otherwise possible.

This year, in addition to our APDU board representative, Elizabeth Nash, we’re sending our new Data Development Lead, Eliza Wallace, who will be attending for the first time. We’re looking forward to hearing about what’s being talked about in public data this year!

Building the Case for Public Statistics

Building the Case for Public Statistics:

Special APDU Workshop

July 18, 2018
2018 APDU Annual Conference
Residence Inn Pentagon City
Arlington, VA

This workshop is offered as a supplemental component of the 2018 APDU Annual Conference. Register for the conference and you will receive an invitation to RSVP for the workshop.

AGENDA

Uncertain budgets, waning legislative support, limited knowledge about the costs and benefits of statistics… It is more important than ever that you effectively communicate about public data to your stakeholders.

Elected and appointed leaders need to hear from respected data users like you about how public data are used and why they are so vital. How do you do so effectively? It’s not just about the content of your messages, it’s also about when you share your experience.

APDU is offering a groundbreaking new program to help you. “Building the Case for Public Statistics” will help develop your communication skills in ways that improve your messaging, identify appropriate audiences, and navigate the complicated legislative process to determine when your expertise can make the greatest impact on key decisions about public data.

APDU is pleased to reintroduce the “Building the Case for Public Statistics” workshop to develop your skills in educating policymakers on the importance of Federal data. This time, it comes with twist: it will be integrated into the 2018 APDU Annual Conference!

Registrants will have access to the full conference agenda and may attend the specialized breakout sessions designed explicitly to expand your understanding of how best to work with legislators and policymakers to ensure they understand the challenges facing your favored data agency and the broader federal statistical system.

Register today to take advantage of this rare opportunity to learn from national experts on how to educate elected officials on public data. We encourage attendees to commit to attend the full session. Conference registrants will be invited to RSVP for the session to secure their place.

Spots are limited, so register for the conference today!

 

Meet the Trainers

Mary Jo Hoeksema, Director of Government Affairs for the Population Association of America and Association of Population Centers, and Co-Director of The Census Project

Mary Jo Hoeksema advocates for funding federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, Census Bureau, and National Center for Health Statistics. Since 2008, she has also been Co-Director of The Census Project, a diverse collaborative of national, state, and local organizations, including APDU, which support the decennial census and American Community Survey.

Emily J. Holubowich, Senior Vice President, CRD Associates

Emily J. Holubowich has 15 years of experience in health and fiscal policy, government relations, strategic communications, and coalition management. Ms. Holubowich has an extensive body of written work and more recently has authored and managed the production of the reports for advocacy campaigns and is frequently sought out by the media for her expertise on public health and fiscal policy.

Dale Oak, President, Oak Federal Solutions, LLC

Dale Oak has more than 30 years of experience on federal budget and appropriations matters in government and the private sector. Decades of senior staff experience help Mr. Oak translate budget and appropriations developments, facts and figures into actionable information.

Conference Registration Fees* 
Non-Members Individual & Organizational Members Premium Organizational Members
Early Bird Registration
(On or before June 22)
$645 $475 $420
Full Price Registration
(After June 22)
$720 $525 $470