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CNSTAT Thanks Mike Cohen for His Service to the Statistical Community
CNSTAT’s own Michael Lee Cohen is retiring effective November 2023. Mike first joined CNSTAT in December 1983 as a research associate. He and Connie Citro worked with the panel that produced The Bicentennial Census: New Directions for Methodology in 1990 in 1985. Mike went on to other employment at the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs and the Energy Inforrmation Administration but continued to consult with CNSTAT and assist on several studies, including a landmark report on improving microsimulation models for social welfare policies released in 1991. In 1994 Mike returned to CNSTAT as a senior program officer, directing studies on census coverage, designing the 2010 and 2020 censuses, survey automation, reliability issues, innovations in software engineering, and testing for DOD systems, missing data in clinical trials, national patterns of R&D resources, methodological issues in truck safety research, and transparency in federal statistics. He also made major contributions to the study to evaluate the 2000 census, the reports of the panel on small-area estimates for income and poverty, and the recent (2023) report on Assessing the 2020 Census. He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. He has a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Michigan and an M.S. and Ph.D. in statistics from Stanford University. We will miss him and wish him well.

Special Resources

In case you missed it, we have a fantastic new video out about the value of objective national data and statistics. We’re certain you know someone who would like to see it—or better yet, some organization that would like to share it. Will you take 3 minutes to check it out and then send it to a colleague?
Also take a look at our interactive site on CNSTAT’s data infrastructure series.

Recent Events and Reports

CNSTAT Public Seminar: Modernizing Poverty Measurement, September 29, 2023
Videos and other materials now available on this site.

CNSTAT Special Seminar Series—International Approaches to Conducting a Census in the 21st Century:
Office of National Statistics, United Kingdom, May 18, 2023
Statistics Canada, May 24, 2023
Australian Bureau of Statistics, May 31, 2023
Statistics New Zealand, June 7, 2023
Videos and other materials now available on this site.

Workshop: Toward a Vision for a New Data Infrastructure for Federal Statistics and Social and Economic Research in the 21st Century: Approaches to Sharing Blended Data in a 21st Century Data Infrastructure, May 22, 23, and 25, 2023 Videos and other materials now available on this site.

CNSTAT Public Seminar: Enhancing Survey Programs by Using Multiple Data Sources, April 24, 2023
Video and other materials available from this site.

Workshop: Approaches to Improve the Measurement of Suicide in Law Enforcement in the United States, April 25-26, 2023
Video and other materials available from this site.

Workshop: Considerations for Returning Individual Genomic Results from Population-Based Surveys: Focus on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, December 2, 7, and 8, 2022
Video and other materials available from this site.

CNSTAT Public Seminar: Celebrating 50 Years of CNSTAT and Looking to the Future: Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure, October 13, 2022 Video and other materials available from this site

A Roadmap for Disclosure Avoidance in the Survey of Income and Program Participation, a consensus report chaired by Trivellore Raghunathan (University of Michigan) and sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau, was released October 18, 2023. Free PDFs are available here.
The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is one of the Census Bureau’s major surveys with features making it a uniquely valuable resource for researchers and policy analysts. However, the Census Bureau faces the challenge of protecting the confidentiality of survey respondents, which has become increasingly difficult because numerous databases exist with personally identifying information that collectively contain data on household finances, home values, purchasing behavior, and other SIPP-relevant characteristics.
A Roadmap for Disclosure Avoidance in the Survey of Income and Program Participation addresses these issues and how to make data from SIPP available to researchers and policymakers while protecting the confidentiality of survey respondents. The report considers factors such as evolving privacy risks, development of new methods for protecting privacy, the nature of the data collected through SIPP, the practice of linking SIPP data with administrative data, the types of data products produced, and the desire to provide timely access to SIPP data. The report seeks to balance minimizing the risk of disclosure against allowing researchers and policymakers to have timely access to data that support valid inferences.

Assessing the 2030 Census, a consensus report chaired by Teresa Sullivan (University of Virginia) and sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau, was released in final November 6, 2023. Free PDFs are available here.
Since 1790, the U.S. census has been a recurring, essential civic ceremony in which everyone counts; it reaffirms a commitment to equality among all, as political representation is explicitly tied to population counts.
This new report from the Committee on National Statistics assesses the quality of the 2020 Census and its constituent operations, drawing appropriate comparisons with prior censuses. The report looks at the extraordinary challenges the Census Bureau faced in conducting the census and provides guidance as it plans for the 2030 Census. The report encourages research and development as the goals and designs for the 2030 Census are developed, urging the Census Bureau to establish a true partnership with census data users and government partners at the state, local, tribal, and federal levels.

Measuring Law Enforcement Suicide: Challenges and Opportunities: Proceedings of a Workshop, was released September 26, 2023. Free PDFs are available here.
From April 25-26, 2023, the Committee on National Statistics of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop to identify challenges in and opportunities for measuring suicide in the law enforcement occupation. Experts in the field met to identify ways to improve the measurement of suicide by current and former police and corrections officers, dispatchers, and other sworn and civilian personnel, in public and private organizations. This proceedings provides a synthesis of key themes identified during the workshop.

Reducing Intergenerational Poverty, a consensus report chaired by Greg Duncan (University of California, Irvine), and sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families, Bainum Family Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Foundation for Child Development, National Academy of Sciences W.K. Kellogg Fund, Russell Sage Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, was released September 21, 2023. Free PDFs are available here.
Experiencing poverty during childhood can lead to lasting harmful effects that compromise not only children’s health and welfare but can also hinder future opportunities for economic mobility, which may be passed on to future generations. This cycle of economic disadvantage weighs heavily not only on children and families experiencing poverty but also the nation, reducing overall economic output and placing increased burden on the educational, criminal justice, and health care systems.
Reducing Intergenerational Poverty examines key drivers of long- term, intergenerational poverty, including the racial disparities and structural factors that contribute to this cycle. The report assesses existing research on the effects on intergenerational poverty of income assistance, education, health, and other intervention programs and identifies evidence-based programs and policies that have the potential to significantly reduce the effects of the key drivers of intergenerational poverty. The report also examines the disproportionate effect of disadvantage to different racial/ethnic groups. In addition, the report identifies high-priority gaps in the data and research needed to help develop effective policies for reducing intergenerational poverty in the United States.

Considerations for Returning Individual Genomic Results from Population-Based Surveys: Focus on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: Proceedings of a Workshop was released in final on October 12, 2023. Free PDFs are available here.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a population survey that also administers a physical examination, collects biospecimens, and reports some test results (e.g., cholesterol levels) to the participant. While in the process of redesigning the NHANES program for 2025 and beyond, the CDC sponsored a workshop in 2022 to assist NHANES in thinking through the many logistic and ethical issues that must be considered when returning genomic data to study participants.
The Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop on Considerations for Returning Individual Genomic Results from Population-Based Surveys: Focus on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which was held virtually and live-streamed on December 2, 7, and 8, 2022. The workshop was to assist NCHS and other organizations in considering whether and how they might best return genomic results to survey participants in both a timely and ethical manner. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from this workshop.

2020 Census Data Products: Demographic and Housing Characteristics File: Proceedings of a Workshop was released in final on May 2, 2023. Free PDFs are available here.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Demographic and Housing Characteristics (DHC) file is an important source of data for local governments – particularly those with small populations – as well as many other data users in the federal, state, academic, and business sectors. Importantly, DHC data have ramifications for measuring diversity because it provides age, sex, race, ethnicity, and household characteristics.
To assist the Census Bureau with its new disclosure avoidance system for 2020 Census data products, the Committee on National Statistics convened a public workshop on June 21-22, 2022 focusing specifically on the DHC. The disclosure avoidance system implements a new approach to protect the confidentiality and privacy of respondents. The workshop garnered feedback from users on the usability of the privacy-protected data by evaluating DHC demonstration files produced with the TopDown Algorithm for 2010 Census data. Participants included demographers; academics; and local, state, and federal government officials, who provided feedback on the parameters of the TopDown Algorithm for the 2020 DHC.

Behavioral Economics—Policy Impact and Future Directions, a consensus report, co-chaired by Alison Buttenheim (University of Pennsylvania) and Robert Moffitt (Johns Hopkins University), and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the W.W. Kellogg Foundations, was released April 25, 2023. Free PDFs are available here.
Behavioral economics—a field based in collaborations among economists and psychologists—focuses on integrating a nuanced understanding of behavior into models of decision-making. Since the mid-20th century, this growing field has produced research in numerous domains and has influenced policymaking, research, and marketing. However, little has been done to assess these contributions and review evidence of their use in the policy arena. Behavioral Economics: Policy Impact and Future Directions examines the evidence for behavioral economics and its application in six public policy domains: health, retirement benefits, climate change, social safety net benefits, climate change, education, and criminal justice. The report concludes that the principles of behavioral economics are indispensable for the design of policy and recommends integrating behavioral specialists into policy development within government units. In addition, the report calls for strengthening research methodology and identifies research priorities for building on the accomplishments of the field to date.

Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Enhancing Survey Programs by Using Multiple Data Sources, a consensus report, chaired by Sharon Lohr (Arizona State University, emerita) and sponsored by the National Science Foundation, was released March 31, 2023. Free PDFs are available here. Also, check out our interactive site on data infrastructure series.
Much of the statistical information currently produced by federal statistical agencies—information about economic, social, and physical well-being that is essential for the functioning of modern society— comes from sample surveys. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of data from other sources, including data collected by government agencies while administering programs, satellite and sensor data, private-sector data such as electronic health records and credit card transaction data, and massive amounts of data available on the internet. How can these data sources be used to enhance the information currently collected on surveys, and to provide new frontiers for producing information and statistics to benefit American society?
Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Enhancing Survey Programs by Using Multiple Data Sources, the second report in a series funded by the National Science Foundation, discusses how use of multiple data sources can improve the quality of national and subnational statistics while promoting data equity. This report explores implications of combining survey data with other data sources through examples relating to the areas of income, health, crime, and agriculture.

An Updated Measure of Poverty: (Re)Drawing the Line, a consensus report, chaired by James Ziliak (University of Kentucky) and sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau, was released March 29, 2023. Free PDFs are available here.
An accurate measure of poverty is essential for determining the size and composition of the population whose basic needs are going unmet and to help society target resources to address those needs. Poverty statistics are also necessary to fully understand how the economy is performing across all segments of the population and to assess the effects of government policies on the wellbeing of communities and families. An Updated Measure of Poverty: (Re)Drawing the Line recommends updating the methodology used by the Census Bureau to calculate the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) to more accurately reflect households’ basic needs and estimate their resources available to meet those needs. This report recommends that the more comprehensive SPM replace the current Official Poverty Measure as the primary statistical measure of poverty produced by the Census Bureau. The report assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the SPM and provides recommendations for updating its approach to handling key basic needs—such as medical care, childcare, and housing—of American families.

An Assessment of the Need for Native Seeds and the Capacity for their Supply: Final Report, a consensus report, chaired by Susan Harrison (University of California, Davis) and sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management, was released January 26, 2023. Free PDFs are available here.
Extreme weather and wildfires, intensified by climate change, are damaging the native plant communities of landscapes across the United States. Native plant communities are foundational to thriving ecosystems, delivering goods and services that regulate the environment and support life, provide food and shelter for a wide range of native animals, and embody a wealth of genetic information with many beneficial applications. Restoring impaired ecosystems requires a supply of diverse native plant seeds that are well suited to the climates, soils, and other living species of the system. This report examines the needs for native plant restoration and other activities, provides recommendations for improving the reliability, predictability, and performance of the native seed supply, and presents an ambitious agenda for action.

Other NEws and Events

November 16, 2023
12:00 – 1:00 pm
DC-AAPOR is holding a book session on the CNSTAT report Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Enhancing Survey Programs by Using Multiple Data Sources with editors Sharon L. Lohr and Krisztina Marton. DC-AAPOR says having read the book is not a requirement of attending. The session will afford the opportunity to hear directly from the editors about the book and engage with others of similar interests. Tickets are free for DC-AAPOR members and students; $10 for nonmembers.

CNSTAT Welcomes the New Office of Homeland Security Statistics
On November 9, 2023, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas launched the Office of Homeland Security Statistics (OHSS) to advance the Department’s statistical reporting and analysis capabilities. The OHSS will conduct statistical reporting and analysis Department-wide, support evidence-based policymaking and data-driven decision making, and, working with the Department’s Chief Data Officer, oversee the development of enterprise-wide data standards. The OHSS will continue and expand upon the work of the Office of Immigration Statistics covering all DHS mission domains. OHSS will aggregate and collect data from DHS operational Components and other sources and work directly with senior career statistical officials in the operational components to validate and publish data on a pre-determined schedule. OHSS’ work in FY 2024 will include data releases on law enforcement, international trade, cybersecurity, airport screening, emergency response to federal disasters, and maritime response operations. More details can be found on their new website.

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