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Data Access

Application Preparation

Potential researchers are encouraged to contact the NWCRDC Administrator to discuss the feasibility of a project. While the NWCRDC administrator can speak to various aspects of the proposal process and different data sets available for analysis, the bulk of proposal development is up to the researcher.

Please note that projects using data from NCHS or AHRQ have a separate application process. Please consult the NCHS or AHRQ websites for more information.

You should be familiar with the Center for Economic, particularly the section regarding the proposal guidelines before submitting a proposal to CES:

Submission Process and Review

Researchers intending to use restricted-access Census data must prepare two separate but related documents: a proposal and a benefit to the Bureau statement, referred to as the Predominant Purpose Statement (PPS).

All research is conducted in a secure facility. Access is only given to qualified researchers with approved projects.

Proposals are submitted directly to the RDC Administrator. Proposals can be submitted any time through out the year. Once the administrator receives the proposal and is deemed ready for submission, the proposal and PPS are sent out for review within and outside the Census. An additional review is then conducted by the Census Review board. The Census Bureau then contacts the researcher with the final decision. Review times are dependent upon the data sets used.

The CES reviews on the basis of five major criteria:

  1. Scientific merit
  2. Benefit to Census Bureau programs
  3. Clear need for non-public data
  4. Feasibility
  5. Minimal risk of disclosure

Document I: Full proposal

The project proposal should be fairly detailed and should include the following elements listed below. These items can be thought of as headings in the research document.

  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Data Sources
  • Output/Disclosure Risk
  • Project Duration – include a timeline with project milestones
  • Benefits
  • Conclusion

Two questions that must be answered are how the proposed research using restricted-access data will benefit the U.S. Census Bureau and push various scientific debates forward

Document II: Predominant Purpose Statement (PPS)

Proposals must demonstrate that the research is likely to provide one or more Title 13 benefits to the Bureau. A research project must demonstrate that its predominant purpose is to benefit Census Bureau programs.

Additional Review and Confidentiality

Projects using business data, and some data about households and individuals, contain Federal Tax Information (FTI) and are subject to additional review by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Please consult the IRS Criteria Document on the review criteria.

The United States Census Bureau is operated under Title 13 of United States Code. Researchers using confidential data are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. We take this very seriously and this is a non-trivial matter. Breaches in confidentially can result in fines up to $250,000 and or imprisonment.