Dec. 18, 2019
In 2019, three organizations—the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy; the Committee on National Statistics at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the Massive Data Institute at Georgetown University—sponsored Data Linkage Day in Washington, D.C. The event was an opportunity for federal employees to share innovative ways they have used data linkage—or the practice of bringing information together from different administrative, survey, or other alternative data sources.
As a research method, data linkage is important because it maximizes the scientific value of pre-existing data. The practices and principles of the Federal Data Strategy address the importance of linking datasets as a way to leverage data as a strategic asset.
“There is a big push currently across the federal statistical community to use linked data and administrative data to make statistical estimations more efficient and less burdensome on the public,” explained ORISE Economist Leigh Ann Pennington.
Pennington and fellow ORISE Economist Mike Finn are lead authors for a biennial study examining how well the United States attracts and retains foreign-born science and engineering (S&E) doctorate holders. The work, which ORISE performs through an interagency agreement for the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), a division of the National Science Foundation (NSF), was one of only eight selected as a poster and “lightning talk” presentation at the 2019 Data Linkage Day. More than 40 posters were on display during the full day event. “Since 1995, NCSES and ORISE have linked data from the NCSES Survey of Earned Doctorates with Social Security Administration data to calculate ‘stay rates’ over time for foreign-born S&E doctorate holders with temporary visas,” said Pennington. “The fact that we’ve been doing this for more than two decades really positions ORISE and NCSES as statistical innovators.”
Amy Burke, the NCSES analyst overseeing ORISE’s work related to foreign stay rates, attended Data Linkage Day and provided the five-minute lightning presentation to the several hundred people in attendance and the countless others who attended virtually.
“This was the perfect opportunity to showcase the decades of collaborative work between NCSES and ORISE using linked administrative and survey data to provide valuable stay rate information,” observed Burke. “Sharing lessons learned and data linkage techniques gave attendees concrete examples of how to use these approaches to enhance their day-to-day work.”
Other speakers at the event included former U.S. Census Director Robert Groves and Nancy Potok, the latter of whom was serving as Chief Statistician of the United States and Chief of Statistical and Science Policy at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (but is now retired). Visit the National Academies website to view all of the event’s posters and to watch a recording of the event and its eight lightning talks. The most recent stay rates report is available.