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NISS Receives Five-Year Grant for Census Research Network

1 January 2012 1,566 views No Comment

The National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) and Duke University received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Census Bureau for the Triangle Census Research Network (TCRN). The award, one of eight nationwide under the NSF-Census Research Nodes program, is for nearly $3 million and covers a five-year period. Jerome Reiter, principal investigator (PI) and Alexander Hehmeyer Associate Professor of Statistical Science at Duke, and Alan Karr, director of NISS and co-PI, will head the project.

The grant will be used to improve how federal statistical (“FedStats”) agencies disseminate data to the public and researchers. Specifically, the TCRN will enhance FedStats agencies’ capabilities by developing broadly applicable methodologies in three inter-related areas:

  1. Disseminating public use data with high utility and acceptable disclosure risk
  2. Handling missing data and correcting faulty data in large complex surveys
  3. Integrating information from multiple data sources

The TCRN also will offer educational opportunities to postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and statisticians at federal agencies.

The FedStats agencies collect diverse data that affect many people, including the decennial census, unemployment numbers, and the Consumer Price Index. NISS collaborates with many of these agencies, including (in addition to the Census Bureau) the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Energy Information Administration, National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Center for Education Statistics, and National Center for Health Statistics. Among NISS’ achievements are methods used nationally to produce high-school graduation rates and crop forecasts and a plethora of techniques and tools that support dissemination of high-quality information derived from confidential data.

By building on these achievements and creating new theory and methodology applicable to major Census Bureau data products, the TCRN’s research will improve the hundreds of secondary analyses of these data sets. The interdisciplinary team of the TCRN—consisting of statisticians, economists, political scientists, and operations researchers—will use these data products to answer questions in aging, economics, and social welfare that have important implications for policymaking.

“The TCRN will improve the way we handle missing and faulty data by integrating paradigms from statistics and operations research,” explained Karr. “The team will also develop nonparametric Bayesian approaches for multiple imputation of missing data in high dimensions with longitudinal and multi-level aspects, as well as address central issues in data integration.”

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