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“Improving our Children's Well-Being” on C-SPAN’s "America by the Numbers" Segment of “Washington Journal”

December 19, 2014: Lynda Laughlin and Kristin Moore talked about a Census Bureau report on child well-being that examines childcare, family structure, childhood poverty, and school performance.

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 http://www.c-


— December 19, 2014 —

(1) There is still time to comment on a Federal Register notice of October 31, 2014, which described the Census Bureau’s review of content for the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Bureau’s proposal to drop questions on field of bachelor’s degree, marital history, and business or medical office on property from the survey. The FR notice requests public comments, due December 30, 2014, to be sent to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, at Comments need not be limited to the questions that are proposed to be dropped but may be on other aspects of the ACS.

(2) The 24th Annual Hansen Lecture will be held Tuesday, January 20th, 2015, from 3:30–5:30 pm at the Jefferson Auditorium, USDA South Building. The speaker will be Danny Pfeffermann, director of the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel. The title of the lecture is “Methodological Issues and Challenges in the Production of Official Statistics.” See “Event and Other News” below for more information.


 People News


We congratulate Jeffrey Sedgwick on his appointment as executive director of the Justice Research and Statistics Association (JRSA) to be effective January 1, 2015. JRSA is the national nonprofit organization of state criminal justice Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) directors, as well as other researchers and practitioners throughout government, academia, and the justice community who are dedicated to the use of research and analysis to make informed policy and program decisions. Jeff is currently a member of the CNSTAT and Committee on Law and Justice Panel on Modernizing the Nation's Crime Statistics (he stepped down as chair of the panel consequent to his appointment to head JRSA—Janet Lauritsen from the University of Missouri–St. Louis has taken over as chair). He is co-founder and managing partner of Keswick Advisors, a statistical analysis and policy evaluation consulting firm in Richmond, Virginia. He was confirmed by the Senate as director of the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in April 2006, and in January 2008, he was named acting Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) in addition to the BJS directorship. He was formally nominated in April 2008 as AAG for OJP and confirmed to the post in October 2008; he served in that capacity until the change in presidential administrations in January 2009. He previously served at BJS as deputy director for data analysis from January 1984 to January 1985. He is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he began working in 1978, specializing in aspects of American government including public finance, criminal justice policy, and the role of the American presidency. He has a B.A. in political science from Kenyon College, an M.A. in public administration and public policy from the University of Virginia (UVA), and a Ph.D. in government and public affairs, also from UVA.

We congratulate William Q. Meeker, Jr., distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences and professor of statistics, Iowa State University, and Stephanie Shipp, deputy director and research professor, Social and Decision Laboratory, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, on their recent election as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Both have served on CNSTAT panels or workshop steering committees.

CNSTAT staff news—
We welcome Jordyn White, who joins the CNSTAT staff on December 22, 2014, as a program officer. She will work with Dan Cork on one or more projects and also with staff of the Board on Testing and Assessment on a joint BOTA-CNSTAT project to evaluate the achievement levels for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Jordyn comes to CNSTAT from having worked for 5 years in various positions with the American Community Survey staff at the U.S. Census Bureau. She has a B.A. in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.A. in criminal justice from St. Joseph’s University. She is co-founder and general manager of the nonprofit, semi-professional Washington Prodigy Women’s Full Contact Football League.

 Event Other News


The 24th Annual Hansen Lecture will be held on Tuesday, January 20th, 2015, from 3:30–5:30 pm at the Jefferson Auditorium, U.S. Department of Agriculture South Building, Independence Ave. (between 12th and 14th Sts.), Washington, DC. The program will be followed by a reception. The speaker will be Danny Pfeffermann, director of the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel. The title of his lecture is “Methodological Issues and Challenges in the Production of Official Statistics.” There will be two discussants: Lawrence Brown, professor of statistics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and chair of CNSTAT; and John Eltinge, associate commissioner for the Office of Survey Methods Research at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Advance registration is possible here:


 Report News


Reliability Growth: Enhancing Defense System Reliability, the final report of the CNSTAT Panel on Panel on the Theory and Application of Reliability Growth Modeling to Defense Systems, was released in prepublication form on November 12, 2014. It is available in PDF; printed copies will be available shortly. The panel was chaired by Arthur Fries, Institute for Defense Analyses, for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

The Report in Brief—
    A high percentage of defense systems fail to meet their reliability requirements. Those systems are not only less likely to successfully carry out their intended missions, but they also could endanger the lives of the operators. Moreover, reliability failures discovered after deployment can result in costly and strategic delays and the need for expensive redesign, which often limits the tactical situations in which the system can be used. Finally, systems that fail to meet their reliability requirements are much more likely to need additional scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and to need more spare parts and possibly replacement systems, all of which can substantially increase the life-cycle costs of a system. Beginning in 2008, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) undertook a concerted effort to raise the priority of reliability through greater use of design for reliability techniques, reliability growth testing, and formal reliability growth modeling, by both the contractors and DOD units. To this end, handbooks, guidances, and formal memoranda were revised or newly issued to reduce the frequency of reliability deficiencies for defense systems in operational testing and the effects of those deficiencies. Reliability Growth evaluates these recent changes and, more generally, assesses how current DOD principles and practices could be modified to increase the likelihood that defense systems will satisfy their reliability requirements. The report examines changes to the reliability requirements for proposed systems; defines modern design and testing for reliability; discusses the contractor's role in reliability testing; and summarizes the current state of formal reliability growth modeling.

Data and Research to Improve the U.S. Food Availability System and Estimates of Food Loss: A Workshop Summary, was released in prepublication form, September 26, 2014. It is available in PDF; printed copies will be available shortly. The workshop was requested by the Economic Research Service/USDA and was chaired by Mary Muth (RTI International).

The Report in Brief
     The ERS/USDA Food Availability Data System includes several distinct but related series on food and nutrient availability for consumption. The data serve as popular proxies for actual consumption at the national level for over 200 commodities (e.g., fresh spinach, beef, and eggs). The core Food Availability (FA) data series provides estimates of the amount of food available, per capita, for human consumption in the United States with data back to 1909 for many commodities. The Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) data series is derived from the FA data series by adjusting for food spoilage, plate waste, and other losses to more closely approximate actual intake. This past fiscal year, as part of its initiative to systematically review all of its major data series, ERS decided to review the FADS data system. Data and Research to Improve the U.S. Food Availability System and Estimates of Food Loss is the summary of a workshop convened by CNSTAT and the IOM Food and Nutrition Board to advance knowledge and understanding of the measurement and technical aspects of the data supporting the LAFA data series so that these data series and subsequent food availability and food loss estimates can be maintained and improved. The workshop considered such issues as the effects of termination of selected Census Bureau and USDA data series on estimates for affected food groups and commodities; the potential for using other data sources, such as scanner data, to improve estimates of food availability; and possible ways to improve the data on food loss at the farm and retail levels and at restaurants. This report considers knowledge gaps, data sources that may be available or could be generated to fill gaps, what can be learned from other countries and international organizations, ways to ensure consistency of treatment of commodities across series, and the most promising opportunities for new data for the various food availability series.

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. Presentations from the July 31-August 1, 2014, CNSTAT International Conference on Census Methods are available here.


 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 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, there will be a special program organized by the NSF-Census Research Network (NCRN). More details will be available in the next newsletter, but essentially, there will be four mini-workshops open to the public (space permitting) from 10-noon on statistical topics on which various NCRN nodes have been working; followed by a luncheon of CNSTAT members and staff with statistical agency heads (box lunches will be available for workshop attendees); followed by a public seminar on the NCRN, beginning with light refreshments at 1:30 pm and ending with a reception at 4:30 pm. For more information about the NCRN and what the various nodes have been up to, see

CNSTAT’s 128th meeting will be held October 22–23, 2015, in the NAS main building at 2101 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC. On the 23rd, 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.


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