Category Archives: Announcement

2021 Annual Conference

 

AGENDA
REGISTRATION

With economic, public health, and governance challenges arising from COVID-19 and political polarization, trustworthy public data is vital to open and honest policy debates. Federal statistical data is used to understand the shifting American landscape, helping make sense of the new normal at work, in our communities, in governance – the list goes on. With trust in institutions waning among some, accurate public data can help restore trust encourage cooperation.

Register today for the APDU Virtual Annual Conference to be a part of this important discussion. APDU is where users, producers, and disseminators of government statistical data come together to learn of changes in public data, provide feedback to statistical agencies, and share best practices in the use of data.

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Data Is vs. Data Are: Settling the Debate

By Bernie Langer, APDU Board Member

There are many debates in the world of public data. Privacy vs. accuracy. Survey data vs. administrative data. CSV vs. XLS. But if you really want to see data nerds fight, ask them whether they say “data is” or “data are”. Is the word “data” singular or plural?

“Good data is important to good decision-making” or “Good data are important to good decision-making”?

This came up on Twitter recently, when NPR reporter/Census superfan Hansi Lo Wang tweeted: “…The 2020 census redistricting data, needed to redraw voting maps, is now expected by Sept. 30…” In his next tweet, he wrote: “(Sorry for 1st tweet’s typo: *data are)”.

It may seem trivial, but it’s important, and not for the reason you expect.

The argument for “data are” is thus: “Data” is derived from the Latin word datum, meaning, “that which is given.” In Latin, datum is a singular neuter noun. My high school Latin teacher made sure I never forget The Neuter Law: all neuter nouns (in the nominative and accusative cases) always end in -a. Therefor, the plural form of datum is data. Data is plural. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Furthermore, we know data to be a collection of individual values (observations, survey responses, etc.). A census never has only one respondent (unless it’s a very sad census). The concept is inherently plural.

The argument for “data is” is simple: “Data are” sounds ridiculous.

Okay, there are some more nuanced arguments for “data is.” We’re speaking English, not Latin. Language evolves. “Data” in common usage is an uncountable noun, like “water.” The ocean is full of water, but no one says, “Water are wet.”

But that’s secondary. What’s more important is: “Data are” sounds ridiculous.

As data professionals, we need to communicate with the rest of the world in a clear and accessible way. We want others to embrace the power of data, knowing that data can be useful to them. No one needs to be special to use data.

Insisting on treating data as a plural noun can be alienating. (Pro tip: Correcting someone’s grammar in any circumstance is alienating.) We don’t want anyone to think they’re not good enough to use data. Even if it’s not off-putting, it’s distracting. The general public doesn’t expect to hear “data are,” and when they do hear it, they’ll momentarily dwell on it, and not the substance of what was left in your sentence.

Of course, this isn’t just about grammar and the word “data.” It’s about not gatekeeping, and communicating complex (but understandable) concepts to the public on their terms. When non-experts understand data, data professionals become more valuable, not less.

And if your conscience cannot permit you to use data in a singular form (old habits die hard), then at the very least, when someone else does, bite your tongue.

A common refrain is “The plural of anecdote is not data.” Let’s reinforce that by not using data as a plural.

This blog post represents the views of its author and does not represent the view of APDU or the Board of Directors.

2021 APDU Conference Call for Proposals

Public Data: Making Sense of the New Normal

APDU is welcoming proposals on “making sense of the new normal” using public data. With economic, public health, and governance challenges arising from COVID-19 and political polarization, trustworthy public data is vital to open and honest policy debates. APDU is interested in proposals regarding:

  • Novel uses of public data to understand the shifting American landscape;
  • Ways that researchers and advocates are ensuring that public data is accurate and equitable;
  • How public data can help restore trust in institutions;
  • How to rebuild trust in public data; or
  • Other related and relevant topics.

Proposals can be for a single presentation or panel, whether based on a particular project, data practice, or formal paper. You may submit ideas for a single presentation or a full panel (three presenters, plus a moderator). However, it is possible that we will accept portions of panel submissions to combine with other presenters. Submissions will be evaluated on the quality of work, relevance to APDU Conference attendees, uniqueness of topic and presenter, and thematic fit.

EXTENDED Deadline: March 26, 2021

Please submit your proposal using the Survey Monkey collection window below.  Proposals will need to be submitted by members of APDU, and all presenters in a panel must register for the conference (full conference registration comes with a free APDU membership).  Proposers will be notified of our decision by mid-April.

About APDU

The Association of Public Data Users (APDU) is a national network that links users, producers, and disseminators of government statistical data. APDU members share a vital concern about the collection, dissemination, preservation, and interpretation of public data.  The conference will be held virtually on July 26-29, 2021, and brings together data users and data producers for conversations and presentations on a wide variety of data and statistical topics.

Create your own user feedback survey

2020 APDU Candidate Statements

Candidate for President: Mary Jo Hoeksema

Since January 2004, Mary Jo Hoeksema has been the Director of Government Affairs for the Population Association of America and Association of Population Centers. In addition to representing PAA and APC, Ms. Hoeksema has co-directed The Census Project since 2008.  Prior to her position with PAA/APC, Ms. Hoeksema worked at the National Institutes of Health for approximately 10 years, as the Legislative Officer at the National Institute on Aging and as the Special Assistant to the Director of the NIH Office of Policy of Extramural Research Administration.  Ms. Hoeksema served as a Legislative Assistant for Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Legislative Correspondent for U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman.  Ms. Hoeksema moved to Washington, DC from her home state of New Mexico to work at the Council for a Livable World as a 1990 Scoville Fellow.

Ms. Hoeksema has a Master of Public Administration from the George Washington University and is a former Presidential Management Fellow. She also has a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from the University of New Mexico.

Candidate Statement

I was introduced to APDU shortly after arriving at the Population Association of America (PAA). I was immediately drawn to the organization given its mission and the fellowship that I found with its members. I discovered that the annual meeting was a unique opportunity to meet data users outside of academia–especially those from federal, state, and local governments–and learn firsthand what issues were affecting their access to timely and accurate data.

I have served on the APDU board, as a member and previously as Vice President, for approximately four years. During this time, I’ve been involved in several initiatives, including revising the organization’s strategic plan, advising APDU’s advocacy agenda, and co-chairing the annual meeting. These experiences, combined with my frequent interactions with APDU members, has given me insight into the organization’s strengths and challenges. If elected president, I would build upon the work APDU has initiated to:

  • Increase APDU’s membership, particularly among young professionals entering the field;
  • Enhance the organization’s visibility inside and outside of the data user community;
  • Improve APDU’s education and training opportunities;
  • Strengthen communication with APUD members; and,
  • Seek opportunities to collaborate with similar organizations to advance the interests of the diverse data users APDU represents.

If elected president I will always be open to hearing ideas and discussing issues with members.

Candidate for Vice President: Amy O’Hara, Research Professor, Georgetown University

Amy O’Hara is a Research Professor in the Massive Data Institute and Executive Director of the Federal Statistical Research Data Center at the McCourt School for Public Policy. She also leads the Administrative Data Research Initiative, improving secure, responsible data access for research and evaluation. Her research focuses on population measurement, data quality, and record linkage. O’Hara has published on topics including the measurement of income, longitudinal linkages to measure economic mobility, and the data infrastructure necessary to support government and academic research.

Prior to joining Georgetown, O’Hara was a senior executive at the U.S. Census Bureau where she founded their administrative data curation and research unit. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

Candidate Statement

Last year, I wanted to serve on the APDU board to improve data access and quality for members, researchers, and program administrators. This year has revealed the cracks in our measurement infrastructure and the dire need to explain and inform our decision makers.  2020 has been rough on everyone, but especially on institutions like CDC and the Census Bureau.  The impact of the pandemic continues to evolve in state and local governments, who face rising infection rates, battered economies, volatile budgets, and a great deal of uncertainty.  Data will not solve these problems, but none of these problems can be solved without data.

APDU can, and must, foster coordination between federal, state, and local data producers and data users.  For ADPU, I will work towards establishing standards and norms for secure and responsible data use.  Our community needs to incorporate broader views of where data comes from and what it is needed for; emphasize data utility when designing privacy protections; and increase social license.

Candidate At-Large Director: Bernie Langer, Senior Data Analyst, Center for Court Innovation

Bernie Langer’s expertise in public data comes from his previous work at PolicyMap. Mr. Langer has a deep and broad knowledge about federal statistical agencies and private data providers, as well as experience working with data and data users to solve problems. He worked with data from the Census Bureau, BLS, IRS, SSA, HUD, USDA, FDIC, FBI, FCC, FEMA, DOT, NCES, EPA, SBA, and CDC, just to name a few. Mr. Langer also led PolicyMap’s “Mapchats” webinar series, a forum for data providers and users to discuss their work.

Mr. Langer’s current work at the Center for Court Innovation deals with a very different type of data, regarding New York City’s criminal justice system. In his role as a senior data analyst, Mr. Langer works with the organization’s Supervised Release Program, a pre-trial alternative to bail.

Candidate Statement

I am excited to continue serving on the APDU Board of Directors. In my last term, I served on the conference committee, which put together APDU’s first ever virtual conference. The conference was a success, virtually bringing together people working in data from across the country at a crucial point during the 2020 Census and Covid crisis.

I find APDU’s conferences, webinars, and newsletters invaluable. As a board member, I would continue my commitment to maintaining the high quality of APDU’s services and events, finding additional ways for data providers and users to interact, and raising the profile of public data in society.

Candidate for At-Large Director: Michelle Riordan-Nold, Executive Director, Connecticut Data Collaborative

Michelle Riordan-Nold has served as Executive Director of the Connecticut Data Collaborative (CTData) since 2014. In her current role, Ms. Riordan-Nold leads CTData, whose mission seeks to democratize access to public data and build data literacy skills to increase data informed decision making in Connecticut. CTData is also the designated Census State Data Center for Connecticut. In addition, the organization holds monthly public data literacy workshops; creates maps and other visualization tools for community organizations to access and use data; and is building an integrated data system in Hartford. In 2020, the organization was the winner of the CT Entrepreneurial Award in Education.

Prior to leading CTData, Ms. Riordan-Nold worked as a research analyst for the CT Economic Resource Center and before that for the Connecticut Legislature in the Program Review and Investigations Committee. Ms. Riordan-Nold has a Bachelor degree in Mathematics from Boston College and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

Candidate Statement

I have been both an attendee and a presenter at the APDU conferences for the past five years. It is great to be a part of a community that is working on improving public access to data and sharing new ways to access and improve its use. I am always amazed at the initiatives happening at the federal level and leave each conference with new ideas and data to share with the community of data users we serve in Connecticut.

If elected, I would be interested in finding ways to increase the membership to include more state level data users. Federal data is critical to much of the work at the state level and I see an opportunity for sharing and increasing the knowledge of both state and federal data users to help improve the work at all levels of government.

I also see an important role of the APDU in staying connected and informed about the evolving Disclosure Avoidance Policy implementation. I believe this should be at the forefront of all data discussions and was encouraged by the attention it received during this year’s conference. The APDU plays an important role in guiding the data user community on how to use the data but can also advocate to make sure the data is provided in such a way that it can be used for informed decision making at all levels of government. I would encourage the APDU to take a more active role in advocating for transparency around the implementation.

If elected, I hope to provide a state level perspective and contribute to the growth of the organization by helping to broaden the membership to include a more diverse group of data users.

Candidate for At-Large Director: Daniel Quigg, CEO, Public Insight Corporation

Dan Quigg is a serial entrepreneur focusing primarily on software analytics. Dan has served as CEO of Public Insight Data Corporation (Public Insight) since 2012, a business intelligence company that transforms public data into actionable insights with solutions in career and workforce development, staffing and recruiting, and higher education benchmarking. Public Insight leverages industry and government data in its self-service business intelligence applications such as Insight for Work and Insight for Higher Education.

Over his career of over thirty years Dan has founded or led eight early stage businesses. Dan is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist and winner of the Smart Business Rising Star Award. He successfully sold three businesses, two to public technology firms where he took a senior executive position. He has also served on the adjunct entrepreneurship faculty of Kent State University and has served on multiple corporate boards. Dan has also served as an advisor for micro-economic development in developing countries, primarily Rwanda and Peru. He currently is on the National Council of the Valparaiso University College of Business.

Dan received his B.S. from Valparaiso University in 1981 and his CPA in 1983.  He received his MBA from Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management in May 2007.  Dan was the inaugural winner of the Weatherhead Executive MBA Leadership Award as nominated by his peers.

Candidate Statement

I have always had a passion for data and am a self-described “data junkie”. I founded Public Insight in 2012 because I saw an asset in public data that was dramatically underutilized. Public Insight was built around that very concept.

I have been involved with APDU since starting Public Insight. I and my company have benefitted greatly from the research, webinars, and conferences. However, I feel that there is a large, untapped audience in the private sector that utilize public data and are not being reached by APDU. I see it every day. Should you decide to accept my candidacy into APDU, I would advocate for outreach to the private sector. Given my startup experience, I can add a lot of value in how to reach and extend APDU’s reach into the private sector.

I would advocate for more online education and training to the private sector. In the labor market particularly, there is a hunger for more information due to pandemic-induced volatility. I see courses like what is currently being offered through the Labor Market Institute (LMI) as a vehicle to reach a broader audience with minimal investment and risk.

My impressions of APDU suggest it is moving more and more to policy and advocacy. My interest is not in these areas nor do I add any value. I am a user of public data and want to see its value disseminated. This is where I can add value and where the mission is aligned with Public Insight.

Candidate for At-Large Director: Lori Turk-Bicakci, Ph.D., Director, Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health

Lori Turk-Bicakci, Ph.D., is Director for Kidsdata, a program of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. She promotes data-based decision making and action to improve children’s health and well-being, and she contributes to the quality, relevance, and utility of the data and content on kidsdata.org.  She oversees the process of collecting, preparing, and releasing data from more than 35 federal and state data sources. Before joining the Foundation, Dr. Turk-Bicakci was a senior researcher at American Institutes for Research. She has extensive experience with data collection, analysis, and reporting for education, social services, and other research projects that support children’s long-term health and development. Prior to her work in research, Dr. Turk-Bicakci was a middle school social studies teacher.

APDU Statement on Concerns Regarding the Census Field Operations Timeline

A statement from the APDU Board of Directors.

The 2020 Census will determine Congressional representation, and the data will form the foundation for the next decade of federal statistics. These data will provide guidance to the federal government on where to provide needed resources, and information to local governments on who lives in their states, cities, and towns.

Federal statistics also provide guidance to businesses on where their products and services are needed by consumers. Decisions on the spending of billions of dollars—public and private—will be made based on the next decade of federal statistics.

The 2020 Census forms the backbone of the next decade of federal statistics. It’s too important to rush.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation the Census Bureau has never had to deal with before. The national self-response rate is just above 60%; two out of five people in this country have yet to be counted. This is significantly below expected benchmarks. Despite the ongoing pandemic, census workers are beginning the process of going door to door to count everyone who hasn’t yet responded. This large-scale effort was slated to begin months ago, but was delayed by the pandemic.

Because of these circumstances, it’s necessary to extend the deadline for the Census Bureau to deliver its results. Census experts strongly believe that the Census Bureau needs extra time to conduct a complete and accurate count, as the Constitution requires.

This is a non-partisan issue that threatens businesses and governments in every part of the country. The Association of Public Data Users calls on Congress to extend the deadline for the 2020 Census to a timeframe that allows for a complete and accurate count.

APDU Past President: Why Attend the APDU Conference?

By Cliff Cook, Senior Planning Information Manager, City of Cambridge, Massaschusetts

In working with public data users often discover a shortfall between the way data would ideally be delivered and the form in which it actually arrives.  While the data we use is by definition only a partial reflection of the underlying reality, the ways in which we structure elements of the data collection, compilation and delivery systems all potentially to create further impediments to data access and usability.

The 2020 APDU conference will include a session dedicated to a discussion this important set of issues:  “Impediments to Accurate Statistics”.

We will hear from three experts in three different domains.

  • Elsa Schaffer, a Data Scientist from Ididio, will discuss her experience bringing together multiple sources of data that cover aspects of education, employment and income to develop data sets that help students and others with career choices.
  • Lavar Edwards, a Research Specialist from the Eviction Project, will talk about the myriad obstacles encountered in buiding a national database of rental housing eviction actions, a topic with significant implications for racial equity.
  • Abraham Flaxman, as Associate Professor from the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, will delve into the world of public health statistics and explore his experience using data about the Covid-19 pandemic.

This session will focus on how various types of impediments prevent users from obtaining the full value of data, how data users deal with these roadblocks, and how the data user community should advocate for solutions.

APDU Launches 2020 Annual Conference

APDU is opening registration for the 2020 Annual Conference, set to be held at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, VA on July 29-30, 2020. Trending issues in the world of data – issues of privacy, accuracy, and access – are profoundly changing how we think about the collection, production, sharing, and use of data. Register for the APDU Annual Conference today to learn how the coronavirus is impacting public data and evidence-based policymaking. Attendees will also hear about outcomes from the decennial census and the privacy and public health issues that are impacting it in 2020.

We recognize the tentative nature of in-person events in these uncertain times, but we will continue to plan for the conference with the hopes of a return to normal. We are evaluating plans for a hybrid virtual conference to ensure that the conference will be delivered either live or online. Please know that cancellation fees will not apply to those who register early. In the case the conference cannot be held in-person it will transition to online, your registration will automatically transfer to the online content. If you don’t wish to attend online, we will provide a full refund on request. We will monitor these issues closely and be responsive to our members and partners.

2020 APDU Conference Call for Proposals

#Trending in 2020: Data Privacy, Accuracy, and Access

APDU is welcoming proposals on any topic related to the privacy, accuracy, and access of public data.  Proposals can be for a single presentation or panel, whether based on a particular project, data practice, or formal paper.  In keeping with the theme of the conference, our interest is in highlighting the breadth of public data to both producers and consumers of public data.  Some examples of topics might cover:

  • Privacy
    • Differential privacy and tiered data
    • State/local data privacy issues
    • Data Suppression
    • Corporate data privacy (ex. Facebook’s use of differential privacy)
  • Accuracy
    • Machine learning and the use of programming languages
    • How data accuracy will affect redistricting or federal allocations
    • Federal agencies data protection actions’ impact on other agency data
    • Synthetic or administrative data
    • Decennial Census
      • Citizenship question
      • Complete Count Committee
  •  Access
    • Future public data and policy developments
    • Current availability of public data (health, education, the economy, energy, the environment, climate, and other areas)
    • Federal statistical microdata such as ResearchDataGov
    • Federal Data Strategy updates and advocacy

Proposal Deadline: February 28, 2020.

You may submit ideas for a single presentation or a full panel (three presenters, plus a moderator). However, it is possible that we will accept portions of panel submissions to combine with other presenters. Submissions will be evaluated on the quality of work, relevance to APDU Conference attendees, uniqueness of topic and presenter, and thematic fit.

Please submit your proposal using the Survey Monkey collection window below.  Proposals will need to be submitted by members of APDU, and all presenters in a panel must register for the conference (full conference registration comes with a free APDU membership).  Proposers will be notified of our decision by March 13, 2020.

About APDU

The Association of Public Data Users (APDU) is a national network that links users, producers, and disseminators of government statistical data. APDU members share a vital concern about the collection, dissemination, preservation, and interpretation of public data.  The conference is in Arlington, VA on July 29-30, 2020, and brings together data users and data producers for conversations and presentations on a wide variety of data and statistical topics.

Create your own user feedback survey

2020 Annual Conference

#Trending in 2020: Data Privacy, Accuracy, and Access

July 27-31, 2020
Virtual Conference
REGISTRATION

Click here to log in and attend the Virtual Sessions

Trending issues in the world of data – issues of privacy, accuracy, and access – are profoundly changing how we think about the collection, production, sharing, and use of data. Register for the APDU Annual Conference today to learn how the coronavirus is impacting public data and evidence-based policymaking. Attendees will also hear about outcomes from the decennial census and the privacy and public health issues that are impacting it in 2020.

APDU is excited to announce that we are delivering the conference virtually through Whova, a conference management app. Conference sessions have been spread over the week to give attendees more flexibility. We have lowered registration fees by 40% to account for the changes, but are working to encourage engagement with other attendees, speakers, and sponsors through Whova app features. Cancellation fees will not apply.

Click here to log in and attend the Virtual Sessions

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FY20 Budget Moves from House to Senate

The House has passed appropriations bills to the Senate for FY2020, and there are important developments for statistical agencies. The Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) each received modest to substantial increases in their budgets.

With massive increases in spending by the Census Bureau needed to successfully complete the Decennial Census, Congress appropriated $7.558B for the Census Bureau, with $274M for Current Surveys and Programs and $7.284B for Periodic Censuses and Programs. Importantly, this provides 6.696B for the Decennial Census, which is the minimum requested to complete the count effectively.

BEA received $107.9M, which assumes full funding for efforts to produce annual GDP for Puerto Rico. In addition, Congress apportioned $1.5M to the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, and $1M to develop income growth indicators.

After several years of flat funding, the BLS operational budget has been increased to $655M. This includes $587M for necessary expenses for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including advances or reimbursements to State, Federal, and local agencies and their employees for services rendered, with no more than $68M that may be expended from the Employment Security Administration account in the Unemployment Trust Fund. This number includes $27M for the relocation of the BLS headquarters to the Suitland Federal Center and $13M for investments in BLS such as an annual supplement to the Current Population Survey on contingent work, restoration of certain Local Area Unemployment Statistics data, and development of a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.