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Research developments at the Census Bureau Roderick J. Little Associate Director for Research & Methodology and Chief Scientist Bureau of the Census
2 Summary Director Groves vision for research Structure and strategic objectives of new Research & Methodology directorate Outreach to external research community: – NSF/Census Research network – Research Data Centers Some research priorities
Research at the Census Bureau… … More important to us now than ever before. Increased demand for data products, questions asked are becoming more complex and hard to measure. Surveys and censuses are increasingly expensive and challenging to mount. Research is essential to reconcile these tendencies 3
What is the R&M Directorate? 4
5 Strategic objectives 1 Build a Research & Methodology Directorate that fosters innovation and plays a strategic role in Bureau activities – Develop existing R & M members and recruit new talent to be thought leaders in research Increase peer reviewed research – Provide an environment and resources conducive to high quality research. – Form cross-cutting teams with other Directorates to solve key methodological problems
6 Strategic objectives 2 Porting research on new products/processes to program areas - especially more methodologically complex products/processes. Good ideas don’t implement themselves Assist with the refinement and implementation of innovative ideas arising in the program areas Need to develop an infrastructure for beta testing and implementing new and better ways of doing things Collaboration with IT Directorate for computing needs, and other directorates to ensure innovations are understood and carried through
7 Strategic objectives 3 Establishing more robust collaborations with external researchers and agencies. – Enhance collaborative research between R & M personnel and outside researchers – NSF/Census Research Network – Expanded role for Research Data Centers – Incentivizing internal and external researchers to tackle methodological and subject matter research of high value to the bureau and the broader economic and social measurement communities. – On topics of importance to the Bureau, defined collaboratively with other directorates
8 Strategic objectives 4 Increasing the statistical literacy of Census Bureau data users Increased demand for products for small areas (e.g. ACS) Increased “research” data releases that have higher levels of error, are more model-based Users need to understand how to interpret these data
Synopsis of NCRN A set of research nodes conducting interdisciplinary research and educational activities on methodological questions of interest and significance to both: The broad research community, and The Federal Statistical System, particularly the U.S. Census Bureau. The initial awards established 2 small and 6 medium- sized research nodes; a later solicitation may permit the establishment of large nodes. Complementary to but independent of the Census Bureau’s Research Data Centers program. 9
Goals of NCRN Advance development of innovative methods and models for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. Relate fundamental advances in methods development to the problems of the Federal Statistical System, particularly the U.S. Cen10sus Bureau. Facilitate the collaborative activities of scientists from across multiple disciplines, including the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, the statistical sciences, and the computer sciences. Develop next generation of researchers in research skills of relevance to the measurement of economic units, households, and persons. 10
8 proposals funded in FY 2011 "Data Integration, Online Data Collection, and Privacy Protection for Census 2020". PI: Fienberg, Carnegie-Mellon. "Integrated Research Support, Training and Data Documentation". PI: Abowd, Cornell. "Enhancing Federal Agencies' Data Dissemination Capabilities". PI: Reiter, Duke. "Linking Surveys to the World – Administrative Data, the Web, and Beyond". PI: Shapiro, Michigan. "Improving the Interpretability and Usability of the American Community Survey through Hierarchical Multiscale Spatio–Temporal Statistical Models". PI: Holan, Missouri. "Reducing Error in Computerized Survey Data Collection". PI: McCutcheon, Nebraska. "Census Bureau Data Programs as Statistical Decision Problems". PI: Spencer, Northwesern. "Improving the Connection between the Spatial and the Survey Sciences". PI: Spielman, Colorado. 11
R and M Research Topics Census 2020 design Multiple mode data collection: Reducing survey costs without sacrificing quality Disclosure avoidance Record Linkage, ad records Modeling to provide more frequent, more granular estimates Innovative data products (combining current data) 12
Some Challenges Recruit the best researchers Census Bureau employees, and outside researchers on grants and contracts and as consultants Citizenship issues, competitive salaries, creating an exciting research environment Value peer-reviewed publication, visibility in the wider research community Promoting and fostering research excellence in a large, production-oriented, bureaucratic institution Build better links between research and production Institutionalizing research excellence 13
We need your help! Let people know that the Census Bureau has a new research directorate with exciting plans Give us your ideas ADRM wants to work with colleagues to develop new and improved Census data products. We value your advice and constructive criticism! 14
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