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Contact: Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office
The Center for Economic Studies at the U.S. Census Bureau, in partnership with the University of Minnesota, has opened a new Research Data Center (RDC) laboratory on the university's campus in Minneapolis.
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researchers from academia, federal agencies and other institutions with approved projects receive restricted access to unpublished Census Bureau demographic and economic microdata files.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 stringent physical and computer security requirements for access to confidential data.
“The Minnesota Research Data Center will serve researchers from a broad range of academic disciplines, with particular strengths in demography and public health,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “The Minnesota RDC will contribute not only by providing researchers with assistance in using the demographic, business and health data but also by developing improved or new data collections.
“The research lab is housed in the Minnesota Population Center (MPC), which has a tradition of collaboration with the Census Bureau and other statistical agencies. As a world leader in the improvement, dissemination and analysis of census data, MPC is equipped to make unique contributions to the RDC program,” Groves said.
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, for instance, 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.
The Minnesota Census Research Data Center joins similar centers that have been established in Boston; Berkeley, Calif.; Los Angeles; Washington; Chicago; Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York; Ithaca, N.Y.; and Durham, N.C. The center at Berkeley has a branch at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., while the center at Durham has recently opened a branch at Research Triangle Park, N.C. An additional center is scheduled to open at a site 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>.