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A New Directive, a New Opportunity: How a New Policy Expands Communication at the National Center for Health Statistics Presented by Megan Cox Public Affairs.

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Presentation on theme: "A New Directive, a New Opportunity: How a New Policy Expands Communication at the National Center for Health Statistics Presented by Megan Cox Public Affairs."— Presentation transcript:

1 A New Directive, a New Opportunity: How a New Policy Expands Communication at the National Center for Health Statistics Presented by Megan Cox Public Affairs Specialist National Center for Health Statistics

2 First, who is NCHS? The National Center for Health Statistics… The National Center for Health Statistics… –A federal statistical agency Part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)… Part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)… Part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

3 What exactly do we do? Example: Example:

4 What is OMB Statistical Policy Directive Number 4? The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). What do they do? What do they do? What responsibilities does OMB have regarding federal statistical agencies? What responsibilities does OMB have regarding federal statistical agencies? –Ensures “the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information, including statistical information, provided to the public.”

5 Background The key to maintaining the credibility of federal statistics is to ensure that the timing, dissemination, and quality control is the responsibility solely of the federal statistical agency releasing the data. The key to maintaining the credibility of federal statistics is to ensure that the timing, dissemination, and quality control is the responsibility solely of the federal statistical agency releasing the data.

6 Background The Public Affairs Forum for Federal Statistics The Public Affairs Forum for Federal Statistics –Formed in late 1990s “to help public affairs specialists in the national statistical offices deal with common problems, learn from each other, advance the field, and contribute to better policies and practices in dissemination of statistics”—Sandra Smith, National Center for Health Statistics.

7 Addressing Issues Forum wanted to ensure that press releases and other statistical products were not delayed or altered for non- statistical reasons. Forum wanted to ensure that press releases and other statistical products were not delayed or altered for non- statistical reasons.

8 A work in progress… Small working group received a positive response from OMB. Small working group received a positive response from OMB. The group conferred with senior staff at federal statistical agencies. The group conferred with senior staff at federal statistical agencies. Group relied on the National Research Council’s 2005 Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency. Group relied on the National Research Council’s 2005 Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency.

9 Success! In August 2007, the OMB published a draft of the directive in the Federal Register. In August 2007, the OMB published a draft of the directive in the Federal Register. –Sought comments from the public. –All the respondents encouraged OMB to issue the directive, (several had suggestions to bolster various provisions of the directive). Adopted March 7, Adopted March 7, 2008.

10 What this means… OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 4 mandates that the dissemination of federal statistical information be characterized by integrity, reliability, objectivity, and accessibility—this is the way to maintain credibility. OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 4 mandates that the dissemination of federal statistical information be characterized by integrity, reliability, objectivity, and accessibility—this is the way to maintain credibility.

11 Scope The directive clarifies that it applies to all statistical products disseminated by federal statistical agencies. The directive clarifies that it applies to all statistical products disseminated by federal statistical agencies. The directive emphasizes that federal statistical agencies are directly responsible for the content they release. The directive emphasizes that federal statistical agencies are directly responsible for the content they release.

12 Highlights What is a statistical press release? What is a statistical press release? –A “statistical press release” is an announcement to the media of the release of a statistical product from a statistical agency—it is produced by the statistical agency. –It includes the name of the agency, key findings, a summary of the information, and where the information can be accessed.

13 Highlights At NCHS, we At NCHS, we –Coordinate with parent agencies by sending press releases to them prior to release. –Share information with our parent agencies so that they will be aware of the information to be released and be able to prepare a separate statement commenting on the data.

14 Highlights Who determines the timing of a release? Who determines the timing of a release? –The directive gives federal statistical agencies responsibility for the timing of the release of statistical products. –Per the directive, data should be released by federal statistical agencies as soon as they are ready.

15 Highlights NCHS… NCHS… –Works closely to coordinate releases with CDC but releases data when they are ready.

16 Highlights What is the benefit of pre-release (embargo)? What is the benefit of pre-release (embargo)? –Expansion of media outreach by federal statistical agencies through early release.  More time to prepare increases the likelihood of more accurate coverage  More interviews  Wider dissemination

17 Highlights NCHS… NCHS… –Uses the embargo process for its most newsworthy reports. –Results have been extensive coverage and increased interviews with statisticians.

18 Highlights Who’s responsible for notification of releases? Who’s responsible for notification of releases? –The statistical agency is responsible for providing the public with a schedule of release for regular or recurring statistical products (reports and public-use files).

19 Highlights NCHS… NCHS… –Collects a list of upcoming data releases from each of its programs and assembles a schedule that is posted on the Web.

20 Highlights Forums and strategies for information release Forums and strategies for information release –Conferences, exhibits, presentations, workshops, electronic distribution lists, and other media outreach such as news conferences and media briefings are encouraged.

21 Highlights NCHS… NCHS… –Uses the Internet extensively for dissemination—most searches for our information start there. –The NCHS Office of Public Affairs attends conferences to further promote our products and our services to the target audience—media professionals and other statistical communicators that may utilize our data.

22 Summary - A Policy for Credibility The OMB directive instructs federal statistical agencies to reach out to the public in a timely, equitable, and responsible manner, ultimately enhancing our reputation as a source of credible data. The OMB directive instructs federal statistical agencies to reach out to the public in a timely, equitable, and responsible manner, ultimately enhancing our reputation as a source of credible data.

23 Challenges The challenge of the directive is in the implementation; NCHS is still in the process of coordinating the details with CDC in some instances because the directive represents a departure from previous practices. The challenge of the directive is in the implementation; NCHS is still in the process of coordinating the details with CDC in some instances because the directive represents a departure from previous practices.

24 Useful Applications? U.S. federal statistical agencies are diversified—we are not one unified agency but many agencies separated by the subject matter we cover. Yet, we have uniformity under this policy. U.S. federal statistical agencies are diversified—we are not one unified agency but many agencies separated by the subject matter we cover. Yet, we have uniformity under this policy. What does this mean outside the U.S.? It varies from country to country. What does this mean outside the U.S.? It varies from country to country.


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