All posts by Mary Jo Hoeksema

APDU Board Member

2021 APDU President’s Message

Dear APDU members,

Happy New Year and thank you for either renewing or joining the Association of Public Data Users (APDU). I am honored to serve as the 2021 APDU President, and I look forward to working with you this year.

I am sure many of you are happy to turn the page on 2020 and are looking forward to more positive developments in 2021. There are many reasons to be hopeful; however, the pandemic continues to cast a cloud of uncertainty, which is forcing organizations, including APDU, to plan accordingly. As a result, our annual meeting will be held virtually again later this summer. Fortunately, the success of the 2020 meeting portends a repeat performance! I urge you to stay tuned as details emerge in the coming months and to plan to attend the 2021 APDU annual meeting.

While working to ensure a high quality, well attended annual meeting is always the APDU President’s top priority, I have other goals that I hope the APDU staff and board, with support from its members, can achieve this year. These goals include:

  • Increasing APDU membership – I will be forming a working group comprised primarily of APDU board members to develop strategies for boosting APDU membership– particularly among data users outside of the DC metropolitan area. We may be contacting APDU members to help inform the working group’s deliberations.
  • Enhancing Training – Throughout 2021, the APDU board and staff will be identifying opportunities to offer expanded training and networking opportunities for our members outside of those offered in conjunction with the annual meeting. We hope to host in-person events later in the year when it is safe for us to gather once again.
  • Improving communication  I want to continue to build upon the progress that has been made in recent years to enhance the APDU newsletter and to improve the organization’s website. I am also going to be asking the APDU board members to post at least one blog during the year on a topic they choose and encouraging APDU members to consider serving as “guest bloggers” on issues of interest to them, too.

Once again, thank you for being an APDU member! Please feel free to contact the APDU staff or any board members if you have ideas, concerns, or need assistance. We want to ensure APDU is serving the needs of its members and the broader public data user community.

Warm regards,

Mary Jo Hoeksema

APDU Board Member: Stay updated on happenings on the Hill

By APDU Board Member Mary Jo Hoeksema

The 2019 Association of Public Data Users (APDU) Annual Conference, “Wide World of Data,” will be the place to be July 9-10!  The meeting will not only offer attendees cutting edge information about advances affecting public data collection, dissemination, and application, but also will provide them with insights into the politics and policies affecting federal statistical agencies and surveys.

The Washington Briefing panel scheduled for July 10 at 9:00 a.m. will be especially informative. A bipartisan panel comprised of three senior congressional staffers from the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will discuss the latest developments on Capitol Hill affecting key federal statistical agencies. Mr. Allen Cutler, Professional Staff Member (Majority), U.S. Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, will share news regarding funding for the Census Bureau and 2020 Census in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.  Mr. Trelaine Ito, Legislative Assistant, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), will discuss the senator’s interests in 2020 Census operations, the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 Census, and federal data security policy. Ms. Leticia Mederos, Chief of Staff, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who chairs the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, will address how agencies. including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, and National Center for Education Statistics, are faring in the FY 2020 appropriations process.  All three panelists will answer questions and offer suggestions about how public data users can be effective advocates for federal statistical agencies and surveys.

Make your plans now to register and attend the 2019 APDU annual meeting! Take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear firsthand from influential policymakers who are working behind-the-scenes to ensure Congress considers the needs and challenges facing a wide range of federal statistical agencies.

APDU Conference: Supporting Federal Statistical Agencies in Congress

Recent proposed funding increases for the Census Bureau suggest that Congress is listening and responding to concerns expressed by the data user community.   However, the reality is other federal statistical agencies are not faring as well, enduring years of, at best, flat funding, and, at worst, funding cuts.  It is clear much work remains to ensure greater funding parity across the federal statistical system.

The 2018 Association of Public Data Users (APDU) Annual Conference is an excellent opportunity for data users to not only learn more about funding challenges facing federal statistical agencies, but also to hone their skills for communicating with policymakers about the value of federal support for statistical agencies, surveys, and data collection.  On July 18, as part of the Washington Update, APDU conferees will hear from Mr. Jim Dyer, former staff director of the House Appropriations Committee. With more than 30 years of legislative experience, Mr. Dyer will provide unique insights into the appropriations process and what APDU members can expect during the ongoing Fiscal Year 2019 deliberations.

For those conferees who are eager to engage policymakers more directly, APDU is offering a special workshop, “Building the Case for Public Statistics.” The workshop, which individuals must register for separately from the APDU conference, will be led by three government relations experts who will educate attendees about how and when to engage policymakers. During the workshop, participants will develop messages and receive feedback from the trainers.  For more information, go to:

The APDU conference is happening at a pivotal time during the annual appropriations process. Fiscal Year 2018 ends September 30, and Congress will be acting throughout the summer and, possibly, into the fall to pass all 12 of the Fiscal Year 2019 funding bills.  Come to the 2018 APDU conference to get the latest information about these deliberations and consider taking a deeper dive by attending the supplemental workshop to enhance your communication and presentation skills to policymakers. Hope to see you there!

APDU Board Member Provides FY18 Appropriations Update

Last week, Congress adjourned for its traditional August recess, leaving unfinished business, and an unclear path forward, on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 appropriations bills—bills essential to keeping the federal government open once the current fiscal year ends on September 30.  This is a common refrain. 1994 was the last time Congress passed all 12 appropriations bills before the fiscal year ended.

Most of the 12 funding bills have passed the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and are awaiting floor action where they will either be considered individually, or, more likely, as part of a larger omnibus spending package.  Before leaving for the August recess, the House of Representatives passed a minibus spending measure that included 4 bills funding, among other things, the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Rumors abound that the remaining 8 appropriations bills will be merged with the 4-bill security appropriations bill and sent to the House floor in September. The U.S. Senate leadership has neither expressed enthusiasm for this approach nor indicated yet what its strategy will be for moving FY 2018 appropriations bills. Given this uncertainty and the tight time frame, Congress may pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government operating after September 30.

While the FY 2018 funding outlook for all federal statistical agencies is bleak, APDU is particularly concerned about the Census Bureau.   Neither the House nor Senate FY 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bills provide the agency with sufficient funding to prepare for Census 2020. Further, if Congress passes a CR, census stakeholders worry the legislation may not provide the agency with a funding anomaly—an outcome that would further hinder keeping even limited Census 2020 preparations on track.

APDU will continue to monitor these developments and work with other organizations to ensure all federal statistical agencies receive sufficient funding and support in FY 2018.  At the APDU annual meeting next month, participants will hear from an expert panel of Washington insiders who will address not only the current state of appropriations, but also how data users and stakeholders can more effectively represent the needs of statistical agencies when communicating with policymakers.