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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
×

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Consensus Study Report

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This activity was supported by award number SES-2114583 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. Support for the work of the Committee on National Statistics is provided by a consortium of federal agencies through a grant from the National Science Foundation, a National Agricultural Statistics Service cooperative agreement, and several individual contracts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26688.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
×

The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

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Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
×

Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.

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Rapid Expert Consultations published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are authored by subject-matter experts on narrowly focused topics that can be supported by a body of evidence. The discussions contained in rapid expert consultations are considered those of the authors and do not contain policy recommendations. Rapid expert consultations are reviewed by the institution before release.

For information about other products and activities of the National Academies, please visit www.nationalacademies.org/about/whatwedo.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
×

PANEL ON THE SCOPE, COMPONENTS, AND KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF A 21ST CENTURY DATA INFRASTRUCTURE

ROBERT M. GROVES (Chair), Office of the Provost, Georgetown University

DANAH BOYD, Microsoft Research and Data & Society

ANNE C. CASE, School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Emeritus

JANET M. CURRIE, School of Public and International Affairs; Co-Director, Center for Health and Wellbeing, Princeton University

ERICA L. GROSHEN, Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations; Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

MARGARET C. LEVENSTEIN, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of Michigan

TED McCANN, American Idea Foundation

HELEN NISSENBAUM,1 Cornell Tech, Cornell University

C. MATTHEW SNIPP, Department of Sociology, Stanford University

PATRICIA SOLÍS, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University

Staff

THOMAS MESENBOURG, Study Director

MICHAEL SIRI, Associate Program Officer

KATELYN STENGER, Associate Program Officer

JOSHUA LANG, Senior Program Assistant

___________________

1 Resigned from panel on January 15, 2022.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
×

COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS

ROBERT M. GROVES (Chair), Office of the Provost, Georgetown University

LAWRENCE D. BOBO, Department of Sociology, Harvard University

ANNE C. CASE, School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Emerita

MICK P. COUPER, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

DIANA FARRELL, JPMorgan Chase Institute, Washington, DC

ROBERT GOERGE, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

ERICA L. GROSHEN, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University

DANIEL E. HO, Stanford Law School, Stanford University

HILARY HOYNES, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

DANIEL KIFER, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University

SHARON LOHR, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Arizona State University, Emerita

JEROME P. REITER, Department of Statistical Science, Duke University

NELA RICHARDSON, ADP Research Institute, Roseland, NJ

JUDITH A. SELTZER, Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles

C. MATTHEW SNIPP, School of the Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University

ELIZABETH A. STUART, Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Staff

BRIAN HARRIS-KOJETIN, Director

MELISSA CHIU, Deputy Director

CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Senior Scholar

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
×

Acknowledgments

This report is the product of contributions from many colleagues whom we thank for their time and expert guidance. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the project, and we are indebted to Daniel Goroff, Alan Tompkins, and Cheryl Eavey at NSF for valuable discussions and their support of the study.

To address gaps in the literature and to provide a forum for public comment, the panel convened two public workshop sessions in December 2021. Employees from statistical agencies in the United States and Europe, researchers, and private sector representatives described the impediments they confronted while attempting to blend nontraditional (usually private sector) data sources to improve national statistics.

The panel thanks the following individuals for presenting at these sessions: Cheryl Eavey (NSF) provided an overview of the project, highlighting areas where the panel’s contributions could be especially impactful. Emilda Rivers (National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics) and Andrew Reamer (George Washington University) described federal statistical system initiatives that are examining issues similar to those that the panel studied. Ivan Deloach (Federal Geographic Data Committee), Mathew Shapiro (University of Michigan), and John Stevens (Federal Reserve Board of Governors) all offered valuable comments on these initiatives.

Antonio Chessa (Statistics Netherlands), Sarah Henry (U.K. Office of National Statistics), and Geoff Bowlby (Statistics Canada) offered their experiences in gathering and using private sector data in the production of national statistics, notably, describing the challenges they faced and overcame. Stephanie Studds (Census Bureau), Matt Gee (Brighthive), John

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
×

Haltiwanger (University of Maryland), and John Stevens (Federal Reserve Board of Governors) informed the panel on the use of private sector transaction data at U.S. statistical agencies. In a session on federal statistical agencies and nonprofits’ use of private sector health data, Mary Bohman (Bureau of Economic Analysis), Brian Moyer (National Center for Health Statistics), and Niall Brennan (The Health Care Cost Institute) pointed out unique issues in obtaining and working with these data.

The workshop sessions concluded with a discussion of issues that arise when using private sector data for official statistics and research, especially the relationship between the data subject and data holder, as well as the changing legal, regulatory, and privacy landscape regarding private sector data. Nathan Persily (Stanford Law School) described his experiences with Social Science One and drafted legislation that could facilitate learning more about the benefits and limitations of private sector data. Salome Viljoen (Columbia Law School) provided the panel with an overview of the philosophical and legal underpinnings regarding notions of privacy. Panel member danah boyd offered her thoughts on the concept of “data as a gift” and how this theory informs data exchange agreements. Kadija Ferryman (Johns Hopkins Public Health), Frank Nothaft (CoreLogic), DJ Patil (Harvard University), Katherine Wallman (U.S. Office of Management and Budget [retired]), and Maurine Haver (Haver Analytics) provided excellent commentary on the issues set forth by Persily, Viljoen, and boyd.

The panel could not have conducted its work efficiently without the capable staff of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: Brian Harris-Kojetin, director of the Committee on National Statistics, provided institutional leadership and substantive contributions during meetings. Kirsten Sampson-Snyder, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, expertly coordinated the review process, and Susan Debad and Bea Porter provided thorough final editing that improved the readability of the report for a wide audience. We also thank Rebecca Krone and Joshua Lang for well-organized and efficient logistical support of the panel’s meetings, and Katelyn Stenger, who provided valuable research support throughout the project. On behalf of the panel, I thank the study directors, Thomas Mesenbourg and Michael Siri, for their excellent management of the panel’s work. The quality and timeliness of this report would not have been possible without their contributions.

Finally, and most importantly, a note of appreciation is in order for my fellow panel members. This report reflects their collective expertise and commitment.

This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
×

in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

The panel thanks the following individuals for their review of this report: Richard D. Alba (Department of Sociology, The Graduate Center, City University, New York), Claire McKay Bowen (Statistical Methods Group, Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population, Technology and Data Science, Urban Institute), Alan Butler (Office of President, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Washington, D.C.), Kathleen Cagney (Institute for Social Research and Department of Sociology, University of Michigan), Laura DeNardis (School of Communication, American University), Kenneth E. Poole (Office of the President, Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, Arlington, VA), Kosali Simon (O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington), and Timothy D. Wilson (Department of Psychology, University of Virginia).

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of the report was overseen by Cynthia Clark, independent consultant, Mclean, VA, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina. Appointed by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee, they were responsible for making certain that the independent examination of this report was carried out per institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the authoring panel and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Robert M. Groves, Chair
Panel on the Scope, Components, and Key Characteristics of a 21st Century Data Infrastructure

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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RECENT CONGRESSIONAL DATA-RELATED INITIATIVES: NECESSARY BUT NOT SUFFICIENT

SUMMARY

3 A Vision for a New National Data Infrastructure

VISION FOR A 21ST CENTURY NATIONAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE

Outcomes of a New Data Infrastructure

Key Attributes of a New National Data Infrastructure

ATTRIBUTES OF A NEW DATA INFRASTRUCTURE

Attribute 1: Safeguards and Advanced Privacy-Enhancing Practices to Minimize Possible Individual Harm

Attribute 2: Statistical Uses Only, for Common-Good Information, with Statistical Aggregates Freely Shared with All

Attribute 3: Mobilization of Relevant National Digital Data Assets, Blended in Statistical Aggregates to Provide Benefits to Data Holders, with Societal Benefits Proportionate to Possible Costs and Risks

Attribute 4: Reformed Legal Authorities Protecting All Parties’ Interests

Attribute 5: Governance Framework and Standards Effectively Supporting Operations

Attribute 6: Transparency to the Public Regarding Analytical Operations Using the Infrastructure

Attribute 7: State-of-the-Art Practices for Access, Statistical, Coordination, and Computational Activities; Continuously Improved to Efficiently Create Increasingly Secure and Useful Information

SUMMARY

APPENDIX 3A: LAWS AND OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET GUIDANCE ON CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY PROTECTION

APPENDIX 3B: EXAMPLES OF STANDARDS THAT WOULD BE USEFUL TO ANY NEW DATA INFRASTRUCTURE

4 Blended Data: Implications for a New National Data Infrastructure and Its Organization

KEY DATA HOLDERS FOR A 21ST CENTURY NATIONAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE

Principal Federal Statistical Agencies and Units

Federal Program and Administrative Agencies

State, Tribal, Territory, and Local Governments

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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Acronyms and Abbreviations

ACDEB Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building
ACS American Community Survey
ADC America’s DataHub Consortium
AEAStat American Economic Association Committee on Statistics
BEA Bureau of Economic Analysis
BJS Bureau of Justice Statistics
BLS U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDO (Federal) Chief Data Officer
CE Consumer Expenditure Survey
CEP U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking
CIPSEA Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act
CNSTAT Committee on National Statistics
CPI Consumer Price Index
CPS Current Population Survey
CSDA Common Statistical Data Architecture
CSPA Common Statistical Production Architecture
DDI Data Documentation Initiative
DHS Department of Homeland Security
EHR electronic health record
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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EIA Energy Information Administration
FCSM Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology
FFRDC federally funded research and development center
FGDC Federal Geographic Data Committee
FISMA Federal Information Security Management Act
FITARA Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act
FSRDC federal statistical research data center
GAO U.S. Government Accountability Office
GSBPM Generic Statistical Business Process Model
GSIM Generic Statistical Information Model
HHS U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
ICPSR Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
ICSP Interagency Council on Statistical Policy
IEC International Electrotechnical Commission
IRB institutional review board
IRS Internal Revenue Service
ISO International Organization for Standardization
IT information technology
MEPS HC Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Household Component
MOUs memoranda of understanding
NARA National Archives and Records Administration
NASEM National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
NIEM National Information Exchange Model
NIH National Institutes of Health
NIST National Institute for Standards and Technology
NRC National Research Council
NSDS National Secure Data Service
NSF National Science Foundation
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OMB U.S. Office of Management and Budget
QCEW Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages
SAP Standard Application Process
SBA Small Business Administration
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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SDMX Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange
SHIELD Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act
SORNs system of records notices
SSA Social Security Administration
UNECE United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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Glossary of Select Terms

Data Equity

No common definition exists within the federal government—neither the Equitable Data Working Group in their recent report (The White House, 2022b) nor the U.S. Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/about/what/data-equity.html) define the term. In this report, data equity “refers to the consideration, through an equity lens, of the ways in which data is collected, analyzed, interpreted, and distributed” (Lee-Ibarra, 2021).

Data Infrastructure

Data assets; the technologies used to discover, access, share, process, use, analyze, manage, store, preserve, protect, and secure those assets; the people, capacity, and expertise needed to manage, use, interpret, and understand data; the guidance, standards, policies, and rules that govern data access, use, and protection; the organizations and entities that manage, oversee, and govern the data infrastructure; and the communities and data subjects whose data is shared and used for statistical purposes and may be impacted by decisions that are made using those data assets.

Equitable Data Working Group

Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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Government,” issued by President Biden in January 2020, formed the Equitable Data Working Group. It is tasked to identify inadequacies and areas of improvement within federal data and outline a strategy for increasing data available for measuring equity and representing the diversity of the American people and their experiences (The White House, 2021b).

Evidence Act

Also referred to as the “Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018.” This bill requires agency data to be accessible and requires agencies to plan to develop statistical evidence to support policymaking (U.S. Congress, 2019).

Standard Application Process (SAP)

The federal statistical system is currently developing an SAP for applying for access to confidential data assets. When fully built, the SAP will serve as a “front door” through which to apply for permission to use protected data from any of the 16 federal statistical agencies and units for evidence building (https://ncses.nsf.gov/about/standard-application-process). Testing for the portal will occur in September 2022, with the expectation that the site will be operational by the end of 2022. The current portal is at: https://www.researchdatagov.org/

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26688.
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Historically, the U.S. national data infrastructure has relied on the operations of the federal statistical system and the data assets that it holds. Throughout the 20th century, federal statistical agencies aggregated survey responses of households and businesses to produce information about the nation and diverse subpopulations. The statistics created from such surveys provide most of what people know about the well-being of society, including health, education, employment, safety, housing, and food security. The surveys also contribute to an infrastructure for empirical social- and economic-sciences research. Research using survey-response data, with strict privacy protections, led to important discoveries about the causes and consequences of important societal challenges and also informed policymakers. Like other infrastructure, people can easily take these essential statistics for granted. Only when they are threatened do people recognize the need to protect them.

Toward a 21st Century National Data Infrastructure: Mobilizing Information for the Common Good develops a vision for a new data infrastructure for national statistics and social and economic research in the 21st century. This report describes how the country can improve the statistical information so critical to shaping the nation's future, by mobilizing data assets and blending them with existing survey data.

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