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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on National Statistics
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Improving Federal Statistics for Policy and Social Science Research Using Multiple Data Sources and State-of-the-Art Estimation Methods

Project Scope

The Committee on National Statistics will convene an ad hoc panel of nationally renowned experts in social science research, computing technology, statistical methods, privacy, and use of alternative data sources in the United States and abroad. The panel will conduct a study with the goal of fostering a paradigm shift in federal statistical programs—from the current paradigm of providing users with the output from a single census, survey, or administrative records source. The new paradigm would include combinations of diverse data sources from government and private sector sources. These data would be combined with state-of-the art methods to give users richer and more reliable statistics leading to new insights about policy and socioeconomic behavior. The study shall: 1) examine issues of access to alternative sources of data for federal statistical programs and the organizational structures sustaining access; 2) evaluate designs of statistical processes that foster privacy protections, transparency, objectivity, timeliness, replicability, efficiency, and continuity of statistical series 3) evaluate concepts, metrics, and methods for assessing the quality and utility of alternative data sources, analogous to the “total error” framework used for surveys; 4) evaluate statistical models for combining data from multiple sources; 5) examine metrics and methods for evaluating the quality of combined-information estimates; 6) provide “proof of concept” examples of such procedures; and 7) identify priorities for needed research and development to further the multiple-data-sources paradigm, including research into and the use of remedial privacy technology. The panel will prepare a final report offering recommendations with the goal of improving official statistics and datasets for policy and social science research.

Sponsors: The Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the President's Committee


Workshop on State and Local Governments Use of Alternative and Multiple Data Sources
June 1, 2016

Workshop on the Current Practices of Private Companies and Their Use of Big Data and Key Issues and Challenges with Privacy and Confidentiality

February 25, 2016

Workshop on the Use of Alternative and Multiple Data Sources for Federal Statistics
December 16, 2015

Presentations from workshops can be found on the Multiple Data Sources Presentation Page.

Panel Membership

Robert M. Groves, Georgetown University (Chair)
Michael E. Chernew, Harvard Medical School
Piet Daas, Statistics Netherlands
Cynthia Dwork, Microsoft Research
Ophir Frieder, Georgetown University
Hosagrahar V. Jagadish, University of Michigan
Frauke Kreuter, University of Maryland
Sharon Lohr, Westat
James P. Lynch, University of Maryland
Colm O’Muircheartaigh, University of Chicago
Trivellore Raghunathan, University of Michigan
Roberto Rigobon, MIT Sloan School of Management
Marc Rotenberg, Electronic Privacy Information Center


Brian Harris-Kojetin, Study Director
George Schoeffel, Research Assistant (Georgetown University)
Agnes Gaskin, Administrative Assistant

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