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Statistical Quality Standard S1: Protecting Confidentiality

Purpose: The purpose of this standard is to ensure the confidentiality of protected information and administratively restricted information.

Scope: The Census Bureau’s statistical quality standards apply to all information products released by the Census Bureau and the activities that generate those products, including products released to the public, sponsors, joint partners, or other customers. All Census Bureau employees and Special Sworn Status (SSS) individuals must comply with these standards; this includes contractors and other individuals who receive Census Bureau funding to develop and release Census Bureau information products.

In particular, this standard applies to:

  • Data collected from respondents and protected under Title 13.
  • Data protected under the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA).
  • Data collected under Title 15 and protected by legislation governing sponsoring agencies.
  • Administrative records provided by source agencies, such as Federal Tax Information (FTI) protected under Title 13 and Title 26.

Exclusions: The global exclusions to the standards are listed in the Preface. No additional exclusions apply to this standard.

Key Terms: Administratively restricted information, bottom-coding, business identifiable information, cell suppression, confidentiality, controlled rounding, controlled tabular adjustment, disclosure, noise infusion, personally identifiable information, protected information, random rounding, recoding, swapping, synthetic data, and top-coding.

Requirement S1-1: All Census Bureau employees and SSS individuals must follow the provisions of federal laws (e.g., Title 13, Title 15, and Title 26), Census Bureau policies (e.g., Information Technology (IT) Security policies and Data Stewardship policies, such as DS018 Unauthorized Browsing Policy and DS022 Data Breach Policy), and data-use agreements to prevent unauthorized release of protected information and administratively restricted information.

Sub-Requirement S1-1.1: Neither protected information nor administratively restricted information may be released outside the Census Bureau, except as allowed under applicable federal laws (e.g., Title13, Title 15, and CIPSEA) and data-use agreements.

Requirement S1-2: Disclosure avoidance techniques must be used to prevent unauthorized release of protected information and administratively restricted information, particularly personally identifiable information or business identifiable information.

Examples of disclosure avoidance techniques include:

  • Random rounding.
  • Controlled rounding.
  • Top-coding.
  • Bottom-coding.
  • Recoding.
  • Data swapping.
  • Generating synthetic data.
  • Noise infusion.
  • Using rules to define sensitive cells (e.g., thresholds).
  • Protecting sensitive cells (e.g., cell suppression, random rounding, controlled rounding, collapsing cells, and controlled tabular adjustment).


  1. Contact the Census Bureau’s Disclosure Review Board (DRB) for guidance on disclosure avoidance techniques.
  2. Sub-Requirement E3-1.1 of Statistical Quality Standard E3, Reviewing Information Products, addresses requirements for disclosure avoidance review.
  3. Statistical Policy Working Paper 22: Report on Statistical Disclosure Limitation Methodology, published by the Office of Management and Budget's Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology, provides information on various techniques to prevent disclosure of protected information.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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