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Outside Experts Present Research Beneficial to the Census Bureau

August 20, 2014
Barbara Downs
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Over 100 researchers from across the country gathered at Census Bureau headquarters on June 12 to participate in a conference highlighting cutting-edge research intended to foster  innovation in  data collection, processing and analysis.

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The annual conference also featured data training sessions on health data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Center for Health Statistics; demographic data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation; and business data from the Longitudinal Business Database. Participants learned about data available at the RDCs and discussed data-specific technical issues.

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The day began with opening remarks from Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer Nancy Potok. She emphasized the critical importance of research in keeping the Census Bureau on the cutting edge of economic and social measurement. She promoted the continued expansion of the RDC network as a way to help the federal statistical system meet the challenges of measuring a changing economy and population in a period of reduced response rates and limited resources.

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Sue Helper, Chief Economist for the Department of Commerce, discussed another use of RDCs in her keynote speech, “Evidence-Based Governing: How RDCs Might Help.”  Helper, drawing on personal experience, highlighted the benefits of bringing together two different cultures, academia, and policy.  She has experience in both settings as she is currently on leave from her professorship at Case Western Reserve University. Helper also has RDC experience, having been a researcher in 1998 at the Boston RDC.

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Once again, this year’s RDC conference showed how the RDC network fosters innovation in Census Bureau programs and products by building partnerships with expert researchers. We look forward to learning more about ongoing RDC research and its benefits for respondents, data users, and American taxpayers at next year’s conference, to be held at one of our western locations.

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The RDC network consists of 17 secure locations across the United States, where qualified researchers from academia, federal agencies, and other institutions with approved projects receive restricted access to selected non-public files to conduct research that benefits the data-owning agency. Currently, there are over 400 researchers working on 150 projects in the network.

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For more information about the RDC network, see:

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For more information about the 2014 RDC conference see:

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Barbara Downs, Lead Research Data Center Administrator, Center for Economic Studies and Lucia Foster, Chief Economist and Chief, Center for Economic Studies

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