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Data Discovery

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How do I access and use data?

Our inventory lists administrative data in our data linkage infrastructure, with basic information on source and years available.

Contact Us at erd.data-linkage@census.gov with questions about any of the data on the list.

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Give Us Data

Researchers are encouraged to bring in new datasets as part of their project. Data acquisitions may be included as part of a project agreement, or the Evidence Building staff can facilitate agreements with an outside provider.

The Economic Reimbursable Surveys division welcomes data sharing agreements with federal and state agencies. Contact us for more information.

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Data Access and Use

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How do I get started?

If you are interested in a project with Census and administrative data, there are two options:

  1. Submit a proposal to your local federal statistical research data center (FSRDC). Proposal guidelines can be found on the CES website.
  2. An Evidence Building project focused on on program evaluation, innovative research methods. We welcome proposals from federal and state agencies, or researchers evaluating a government program. The evidence-building staff will facilitate data access and provide project management.

To work on an Evidence Building Project, researchers start by submitting a proposal that includes the project's methodology and objectives, anticipated output, and datasets required (including any that need to be acquired for the current project). The Census Bureau will review the proposal, as well as facilitate project approvals from other data owners and providers, as determined by their agreements with the Census Bureau.

pdf   Proposal template   [<1.0 MB]
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If you are interested in working with the Evidence Building staff, contact us at erd.data-linkage@census.gov.

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Once my proposal is approved, how do I access the data?

Can We Link?

All data users must obtain Special Sworn Status. Users must take annual Data Stewardship Training, any training required by other data owners, such as Title 26/Federal Tax Information (FTI) training, and adhere to relevant ethics, confidentiality, and privacy protection procedures.

The Census Bureau then provides access within a secure computing environment, most commonly at one of the Federal Statistical Data Research Centers (FSRDCs), but remote access may be allowed in some cases. Use of an FSRDC or other mode may incur a charge. Users can access read-only, de-identified versions of approved files, and they conduct all work within a project-level workspace shared by the approved researchers. All analysis of microdata must take place in this computing environment.

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Disclosure Review: How do I bring out my analytical results?

When researchers need to remove aggregated output, tables, or model coefficients from the secure environment, the output must be reviewed for disclosure to ensure that no individual or business information is revealed and that output is consistent with the original proposal. The Census Bureau will also facilitate disclosure review by all relevant data owners. Once the results pass disclosure review, disclosed output is provided to the research team outside of the secure computing environment, usually via email. The research team can then produce reports, presentations, and other products outside of the secure environment.

Depending on the terms of the data provider’s agreement with the Census Bureau, these products may also go through a final review by the data-providing agency or Census Bureau team member to confirm that final products are consistent with the original proposed project.

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