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Contact: Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office
The Center for Economic Studies at the U.S. Census Bureau, in partnership with RTI International, has opened a new Research Data Center (RDC) laboratory in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park.
The new lab will be a branch of the existing Triangle RDC at Duke University in Durham, N.C. RDCs are Census Bureau facilities where researchers from academia, federal agencies and other institutions with approved projects receive restricted access to unpublished Census Bureau demographic and economic microdata files. These secure facilities are staffed by Census Bureau employees and meet all physical and computer security requirements for access to confidential data.
RTI International is a nonprofit organization that conducts social and economic research for both the federal government and private entities.
While many researchers unaffiliated with Duke University have used the Triangle RDC over the years, the opening of this more centrally located lab in Research Triangle Park provides easier access to an expanding group of researchers in the Triangle area and across the state.
“The Census Bureau recognizes that the statistical data it compiles represent a significant investment by the American public,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “These Census Research Data Centers increase the returns on the public's investment through improvements to and use of these data. These RDCs provide a valuable feedback loop from researchers to the Census Bureau about the quality of its data products.”
“As an agency committed to scientific methods, the Census Bureau encourages research to help us improve how we do our work.”
Before gaining access to the information at RDCs, researchers must submit proposals to the RDC and the Census Bureau for approval. The review process ensures that proposed research is feasible, has scientific merit and benefits Census Bureau programs. In addition, RDC operating procedures, strict security and strong legal safeguards assure the confidentiality of these data as required by law. Researchers must pass a full background investigation and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data they access, with violations subject to significant financial and legal penalties.
In addition to the lab at Duke, similar centers already have been established in Boston; Berkeley, Calif.; Los Angeles; Washington; Chicago; Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York; and Ithaca, N.Y. The center at Berkeley has a branch at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.
The grand opening of another new center in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota is scheduled for Oct. 27. A center is also slated to open in Atlanta in spring 2011.
For information about the Center for Economic Studies and its Research Data Center program, visit its website at <http://www.ces.census.gov>.