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Message from GSS Outgoing Chair

1 December 2011 No Comment
Steven Paben,Government Statistics Section Chair

    It is amazing how quickly a year can pass. It was my honor to serve as chair of the Government Statistics Section (GSS). I foremost want to thank my colleagues on the executive committee and Rick Peterson of the ASA office for making my job easy. The accomplishments of the GSS over the past year are due mostly to them.

    The highlight of the year was the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) in Miami Beach, Florida. The GSS had an excellent program due in large part to Iris Shimizu and Daniell Toth. We had four invited sessions, 12 topic-contributed sessions, five contributed sessions, and two roundtable discussions. One of the topic-contributed sessions featured the five winners of the student paper competition, jointly sponsored with the Social Statistics and Survey Research Methods sections. GSS also had one poster session during which we also held a successful poster competition won by Emily O’Malley Olsen and Sherry Everett Jones from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    GSS also sponsors or cosponsors many other awards, including the Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award, which encourages the mentoring of junior government staff with respect to statistics. The 2011 winner was Jenise Swall. We are a cosponsor for the Roger Herriot Award and Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship, won respectively by Michael Messner and Rebecca Medway. The Pat Doyle Award is given in recognition of outstanding service to the GSS. This year’s winner was our newsletter editor, Natalya Verbitsky-Savitz. I highly encourage members of the GSS to submit names as potential recipients for these awards. Details about each can be found on the GSS website.

    GSS is a permanent sponsor for the International Conference on Establishment Surveys (ICES). This highly successful event takes place about every five years and explores the current state of survey methodology for businesses, farms, and institutions. The next conference (ICES-IV) takes place in Montréal, Québec, Canada, from June 11–14, 2012. We are also one of the sponsors for the International Conference on Survey Methods for Hard to Reach Populations being held in New Orleans, Louisiana, from October 31 to November 3, 2012. Because the finances of the section remain in good health, we are able to take on these sponsorships as services to our members.

    Our membership declined slightly again over the past year. This was typical of most ASA sections and, hopefully, just a result of the downturn in the economy and not part of a larger trend. I ask all GSS members to continue to encourage other statisticians to join the section. You also are welcome to submit articles for our monthly newsletter by contacting Verbitsky-Savitz at NVSavitz@Mathematica-MPR.com or ideas for articles for Amstat News by contacting Sonya Vartivarian at SLVartiv@umich.edu.

    Again, thanks to members of the executive committee for their contributions in 2011. A special thanks to the members of the committee who are rotating off this year:

    • Iris Shimizu, program chair, for organizing excellent sessions at JSM 2010 and 2011
    • Carol House, COPAFS representative

    Also, a warm welcome to our newly elected committee members:

    • Lisa Blumerman, chair-elect 2012
    • Eric Rancourt, program chair-elect 2012

    I would like to close by asking you to think about volunteering for the section. The activities of the section are only as good as the effort volunteers put into them. I found this experience to be quite rewarding. It allowed me to network and make connections with other statisticians with an interest in government statistics that I probably never would have met otherwise. Plus, it allowed me to get involved with interesting issues that will help move our profession forward.

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