Monday, July 28, 2014 
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Coordinating and Sustaining Federal Statistics

Decennial Census and American Community Survey

Economic Measurement

Federal Household and Business Surveys

Health and Social Welfare

Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency

Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Indicators

Statistical Methods and Estimates for Policy Use


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"New Trends in Farming", Live on the C-SPAN’s "America by the Numbers" Segment of “Washington Journal”

In 2012, more than 57,000 U.S. farms produced renewable energy, and 22 percent of farmers had run a farm for less than 10 years. Find out more about trends in farming on May 30 at approximately 8:15-9 a.m. EDT as Hubert Hamer Jr., director of the Statistics Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, discusses key findings from the 2012 Census of Agriculture. 

Twitter Version:
Watch "New Trends in Farming" w/Hubert Hamer, @ usda_nass, on @CSPANWJ #ABTN Fri May 30 at 8:15 amEDT

Most Fridays, C-SPAN’s “America By the Numbers” segment features information from the federal statistical system. The program highlights the trends and allows the public to call in or email their views. More information on previous C-SPAN programs is available at


— June 25, 2014 —



 People News


We note with deep sorrow the death of Daniel B. (Danny) Levine, of Silver Spring, MD, at age 88 on April 29, 2014. He worked for over 30 years at the U.S. Census Bureau, rising to the rank of deputy director. He was on the CNSTAT staff for several years in the 1980s, directing panels that produced classic CNSTAT reports, Creating a Center for Education Statistics: A Time for Action (1986) and Immigration Statistics: A Story of Neglect (1985). He also worked at Westat for more than 25 years up until the week he died. He received a B.A. in economics from George Washington University and an M.S. in economics from Columbia University. During his government career, he was awarded the Department of Commerce Silver and Gold Medals, as well as being named by President Carter to the rank of Meritorious Executive of the Senior Service. There is a wonderful oral history conducted by the Census Bureau history staff with Danny, which gives a vivid picture of his work and that of many other distinguished members of the federal statistical system who strive for continual improvement of the information they produce that is vital for policy makers and the public.

It’s that time of year—announcing changes in CNSTAT membership
We offer deep thanks to two outgoing members of CNSTAT, whose two terms will end June 30, 2014, for their dedicated service to CNSTAT and the NAS/NRC over many years, which continues as they participate in study panels and workshops—there is not space to list their manifold contributions to their professions and to the federal statistical, research, and policy analysis communities:

  • Alicia Carriquiry, professor of statistics, Iowa State University
  • Hal Stern, professor of statistics and dean of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine

We are delighted to welcome three new members, appointed to 3-year terms beginning July 1, 2014:

  • Donald A. Dillman is Regents professor in the Department of Sociology, Washington State University. He also serves as the deputy director for research and development in the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center at Washington State University. From 1991 to 1995, he served as the senior survey methodologist in the Office of the Director at the U.S. Census Bureau. His work at the Census Bureau resulted in him receiving the Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics in 2000. He is recognized internationally as a major contributor to the development of modern mail, telephone, and Internet survey methods. Throughout his time at Washington State University, he has maintained an active research program on the improvement of survey methods and how information technologies influence rural development. He served as past president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research and the Rural Sociological Society. He chaired the CNSTAT Panel on Redesigning the BLS Consumer Expenditures Surveys, and served as a member of the Panel on Redesigning the Commercial Building and Residential Energy Consumption Surveys, the Panel on Residence Rules in the Decennial Census, and the Survey of Earned Doctorates Advisory Panel. He has a B.A. in agronomy, an M.S. in rural sociology, and a Ph.D. in sociology, all from Iowa State University.
  • Sarah M. Nusser is vice president for research and professor in the Department of Statistics at Iowa State University. She was recently director of the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology. She was a senior research fellow at BLS from 2000 to 2001. Her research interests include using geospatial data in survey data collection and estimation, estimation methods for land cover map accuracy assessment, and sample design and measurement in surveys. Her experience includes service on the Census Advisory Committee of Professional Associations. She has been an associate editor for Biometrics and received the 2007 Distinguished Achievement Award from the ASA Section on Statistics and the Environment. She is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and an elected member of the International Statistics Institute. She delivered the Joint Program on Survey Methodology Distinguished Lecture, April 25, 2014, on “Accounting for Measurement Error in Physical Activity Data.” She is serving on the CNSTAT-IOM Workshop on the Food Availability Data System and Estimates of Food Loss, and previously served on the CNSTAT Panel on Redesigning the BLS Consumer Expenditures Surveys, the CNSTAT Panel on Estimating Children Eligible for School Nutrition Programs Using the American Community Survey, and the DBASSE Committee on Social Security Representative Payees. She received a B.S. in botany from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.S. in botany from North Carolina State University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in statistics from Iowa State University.
  • Thomas L. Mesenbourg retired as acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau in August 2013. He served as deputy director from May 2008-August 2012. Before being named deputy director, he was associate director for economic programs, with responsibility for the Economic Directorate’s myriad activities, including the Economic Census and the Census of Governments and over 100 monthly, quarterly, and annual surveys. He joined the Census Bureau in 1972. In 2004, he received a Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Senior Executives, the government’s highest award for career executives. In October 2012, he received the Roger W. Jones Award from American University for exceptional leadership among people who devoted themselves to federal public service, and in 2011 he received the Julius Shiskin Award for economic statistics. He has a B.A. degree in economics from Boston University and an M.A. in economics from Pennsylvania State University.

We are also delighted to welcome back Ruth Peterson, professor of sociology (emerita) and director, Criminal Justice Research Center, The Ohio State University, for her second 3-year term.

Our continuing members include:

  • Lawrence Brown (chair), professor of statistics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
  • John Abowd, professor of economics, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
  • Mary Ellen Bock, head and professor of statistics, Purdue University
  • David Card, professor of economics, University of California, Berkeley
  • Michael Chernew, professor of health care policy, Harvard Medical School 
  • Constantine Gatsonis, professor and chair of biostatistics, Brown University
  • James House, professor of survey research, public policy, and sociology, University of Michigan
  • Michael Hout, professor of sociology, New York University
  • Sallie Keller, director and professor of statistics, Social and Decision Analytics Lab, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, Arlington, VA
  • Lisa Lynch, dean and professor of economics, Heller School for Social Policy Management, Brandeis University
  • Colm A. O'Muircheartaigh, dean of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Studies, and senior fellow with NORC at the University of Chicago
  • Edward Shortliffe, professor of biomedical informatics, Columbia and Arizona State Universities

We congratulate Robert Groves (provost of Georgetown University, former director of the U.S. Census Bureau, former member of CNSTAT, and current member of the DBASSE Advisory Committee) and James S. Jackson (director of the Institute for Social Research and professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and member of the Institute of Medicine), on their appointment by President Obama to the National Science Board on June 16, 2014. The NSB is responsible for establishing NSF priorities within the context of national policies of the President and Congress, identifying issues critical to the future of NSF, and approving the foundation’s annual budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget as well as new major programs and awards. The NSB also serves as an independent body of advisors to both the President and the Congress on policy issues related to science and engineering and education in science and engineering.

 Event Other News


We call your attention to two upcoming CNSTAT conferences, both in Room 100 of the NAS Keck Center at 500 5th St, NW:
  • Workshop on Measuring Research and Development Expenditures in the U.S. Nonprofit Sector, June 30 – July 1, 2014
  • International Conference on Census Methods, July 31 - August 1, 2014
Please visit the CNSTAT home page for more information and to register.

We are pleased to announce an open program officer position (job requisition number 140-124-5) at CNSTAT to work with staff of our decennial census and crime statistics panels. Preferred qualifications are a Ph.D. in statistics, economics, sociology, or survey research (or an M.A. with three years of related professional experience), together with ability to work successfully in a team environment, ability to develop excellent working relationships with volunteer panel members, sponsor staff, and National Academies staff, and excellent written and oral communication skills.

We remind you of an opportunity for public comment on an important statistical policy directive:
A Federal Register call for public comments was issued May 21, 2014 (deadline July 21) from the Statistical and Science Policy Office of OMB on a proposed Statistical Policy Directive: Fundamental Responsibilities of Federal Statistical Agencies and Recognized Statistical Units. The proposed directive, which is available on the OMB web site, states that “it is the responsibility of Federal statistical agencies and recognized statistical units to produce relevant and timely information; conduct credible, accurate, and objective statistical activities; and protect the trust of information providers by ensuring confidentiality of their responses.” The directive refers to the CNSTAT publication, Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, 5th Edition, available in PDF, and other relevant documents.


 Report News


Civic Engagement and Social Cohesion: Measuring Dimensions of Social Capital to Inform Policy, the final report of the CNSTAT Panel on Measuring Social and Civic Engagement and Social Cohesion in Surveys, was released in prepublication format, June 23, 2014. It is available in PDF; printed copies will be available shortly. The panel was requested by the Corporation for National and Community Service and chaired by Kenneth Prewitt (Columbia University).

The Report in Brief—
     People's bonds, associations and networks—as well as the civil, political, and institutional characteristics of the society in which they live—can be powerful drivers affecting the quality of life among a community's, a city's, or a nation's inhabitants and their ability to achieve both individual and societal goals. Civic engagement, social cohesion, and other dimensions of social capital affect social, economic and health outcomes for individuals and communities. Can these be measured, and can federal surveys contribute toward this end? Can this information be collected elsewhere, and if so, how should it be collected? With the needs of data users in mind, Civic Engagement and Social Cohesion examines conceptual frameworks developed in the literature to determine promising measures and measurement methods for informing public policy discourse. The report provides working definitions of key terms; advises on the feasibility and specifications of indicators relevant to analyses of social, economic, and health domains; and assesses the strength of the evidence regarding the relationship between these indicators and observed trends in crime, employment, and resilience to shocks such as natural disasters. It weighs the relative merits of surveys, administrative records, and non-government data sources, and considers the appropriate role of the federal statistical system, making recommendations to improve the measurement of civic health through government surveys and identifying priority areas for research, development, and implementation.

Issues in Returning Individual Results from Genome Research Using Population-Banked Specimens, with a Focus on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: A Workshop Summary, was released in prepublication format, June 19, 2014. It is available in PDF; printed copies will be available shortly. The workshop was requested by the National Center for Health Statistics and chaired by Wylie Burke (University of Washington).

The Report in Brief—
     Population surveys traditionally collect information from respondents from questionnaires, but, in recent years, many surveys have also been collecting biologic specimens such as blood samples, saliva, and buccal swabs, from which a respondent's DNA can be ascertained along with other biomarkers (e.g., the level of a certain protein in the blood). NHANES has been collecting and storing genetic specimens since 1991, and other surveys, such as the Health and Retirement Study funded by the National Institute on Aging, have followed suit. In order to give their informed consent to participate in a survey, respondents need to know the disposition and use of their data. Will their responses be used for one research project and then destroyed, or will they be archived for secondary use? The addition of biologic specimens to a survey not only adds complications for storing, protecting, and providing access to such data for secondary research, but also raises questions of whether, when, and for which biologic measurements the results should be reported back to individual respondents. Recently, the cost of full genomic sequencing has plummeted, and research findings are beginning to accumulate that bear up under replication and that potentially have clinical implications for a respondent. Biomedical research studies, in which participants are asked to donate tissues for genetic studies and are usually told that they will not be contacted with any results, are increasingly confronting the issue of when and which DNA results to return to participants. Issues in Returning Individual Results from Genome Research Using Population-Based Banked Specimens, with a Focus on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is the summary of a CNSTAT workshop convened in February 2013. The workshop sessions discussed to what extent and how population surveys, in particular NHANES, should implement the reporting of results from genomic research using stored specimens and address informed consent for future data collection as well as for the use of banked specimens covered by prior informed consent agreements.

The National Children’s Study 2014: An Assessment, the final report of the CNSTAT and Board on Children, Youth, and Families Panel on the Design of the National Children’s Study and Implications for the Generalizability of Results, was released in prepublication format, June 16, 2014. It is available in PDF; printed copies will be available shortly. The panel was requested by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in response to a congressional mandate and chaired by Greg Duncan (University of California, Irvine).

The Report in Brief—
     The National Children's Study (NCS) was authorized by the Children's Health Act of 2000 and is being implemented by a dedicated Program Office in NICHD. The NCS is planned to be a longitudinal observational birth cohort study to evaluate the effects of chronic and intermittent exposures on child health and development in the United States, collecting a broad range of data for a national probability sample of about 100,000 children, followed from birth or before birth to age 21. Detailed plans for the NCS were developed by 2007 and reviewed by a CNSTAT/BCYF panel. At that time, sample recruitment for the NCS Main Study was scheduled to begin in 2009 and to be completed within about 5 years. However, results from the initial seven pilot locations, which recruited sample cases in 2009-2010, indicated that the proposed household-based recruitment approach would be more costly and time consuming than planned. In response, the Program Office implemented pilot tests in 2011 to evaluate alternative recruitment methods. At the request of Congress, The National Children's Study 2014 reviews the revised study design and proposed methods for the NCS Main Study to determine if they are likely to produce scientifically sound results that are generalizable to the U.S. population and appropriate subpopulations. The report makes recommendations about the overall study framework, sample design, timing, content, and need for scientific expertise and oversight, noting that the NCS has the potential to add immeasurably to knowledge of the effects of environmental factors, broadly defined, on children in the United States. In response to the report’s conclusions and recommendations, the NIH director has put the NCS Main Study on hold until further notice.

Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Spaceflight, the final report of the Committee on Human Spaceflight, was released in prepublication format, June 4, 2014. It is available in PDF; printed copies will be available shortly. The study was requested by NASA in response to a congressional mandate and co-chaired by Mitchell Daniels (Purdue University) and Jonathan Lunine (Cornell University). Roger Tourangeau chaired a Panel on Public and Stakeholder Opinion that provided input to the main committee (see Chapter 3and Appendixes B-E of the report).

The Report in Brief—
     The United States has publicly funded its human spaceflight program on a continuous basis for more than a half-century from the early Mercury and Gemini suborbital and Earth orbital missions, to the lunar landings, and thence to the first reusable winged crewed space plane. Today the United States is the major partner in a massive orbital facility, the International Space Station, which is becoming the focal point for the first tentative steps in commercial cargo and crewed orbital space flights. And yet, the long-term future of human spaceflight beyond this project is unclear. Pronouncements by multiple presidents of bold new ventures by Americans to the Moon, to Mars, and to an asteroid in its native orbit, have not been matched by the substantial increase in NASA funding needed to make it happen. Pathways to Exploration explores the case for advancing this endeavor, drawing on the history of rationales for human spaceflight, examining the attitudes of stakeholders and the public, and carefully assessing the technical and fiscal realities. The report recommends maintaining a long-term focus on Mars as the horizon goal for human space exploration. With this goal in mind, the report considers funding levels necessary to maintain a robust tempo of execution, current research and exploration projects and the time/resources needed to continue them, and international cooperation that could contribute to the achievement of spaceflight to Mars. According to Pathways to Exploration, a successful U.S. program would require sustained national commitment and a budget that increases by more than the rate of inflation.

Capturing Change in Science, Technology, and Innovation: Improving Indicators to Inform Policy, the final report of the CNSTAT and Board on Science, Economic, and Technology Policy Panel on Developing Science, Technology, and Innovation Indicators for the Future, was released in prepublication form, November 25, 2013. It is available in
PDF; printed copies will be available shortly. The panel was requested by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) and co-chaired by Robert Litan (Bloomberg Government) and Andrew Wyckoff (OECD).


The Report in Brief—
     Since the 1950s, under congressional mandate, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)— through NCSES and its predecessors—has produced regularly updated measures of research and development expenditures, employment and training in science and engineering, and other indicators of the state of U.S. science and technology. A more recent focus has been on measuring innovation in the corporate sector. NCSES not only collects its own data on science, technology, and innovation (STI) activities, but also incorporates data from other agencies to produce indicators that are used for monitoring purposes— including comparisons among sectors, regions, and with other countries—and for identifying trends that may require policy attention and generate research needs. NCSES provides extensive tabulations and microdata files for in-depth analysis. Capturing Change in Science, Technology, and Innovation provides recommendations about the need for revised, refocused, and newly developed indicators of STI activities that would enable NCSES to respond to changing policy concerns. The report identifies both existing and potential data resources and tools that NCSES could exploit to further develop its indicators program. Finally, the report considers strategic pathways for NCSES to move forward with an improved STI indicators program that will enhance NCSES's ability to produce indicators that capture change in science, technology, and innovation to inform policy and optimally meet the needs of its user community.

Reminder: PDF versions of CNSTAT and NAS reports are available for free download at The National Academies Press website, NOTE: The download site asks for your e-mail and a password. If you don’t have an NAP account and don’t want to have one, then provide your e-mail and click “I don’t have an account;” on the next page click “accept NAP policies” and “log in as guest”. 


Reminder: Slides from previous CNSTAT public seminars, and from several major workshops, are available on the Presentations page on the CNSTAT website.


 CNSTAT Meetings

CNSTAT holds three regular meetings each year, with its spring and fall meeting dates following a set formula; our May meetings are always the Thursday–Friday preceding Mother’s Day and our October meetings are always the second-to-last Thursday–Friday of the month. Here are the next three meetings:

CNSTAT’s 125th meeting will be held October 23-24, 2014, in the NAS main building at 2101 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC. On the 24th, the meeting will feature a luncheon with statistical agency heads, followed by a public seminar, beginning with light refreshments at 2 pm and ending with a reception at 4:30 pm.

CNSTAT’s 126th meeting will be held February 6-7, 2015, at the Beckman Center of the National Academies in Irvine, CA. It will be a retreat meeting; there will be no agency head luncheon or public seminar.

CNSTAT’s 127th meeting will be held May 7-8, 2015, in the NAS main building at 2101 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC. On the 8th, the meeting will feature a luncheon with statistical agency heads, followed by a public seminar, beginning with light refreshments at 2 pm and ending with a reception at 4:30 pm.


January 2014 
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014


CNSTAT News 2013

CNSTAT News 2012

CNSTAT News 2011

CNSTAT News 2010

CNSTAT News 2009

CNSTAT News 2008

CNSTAT News 2007




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