2016 Federal Index


Did the agency collect, analyze, share, and use high-quality administrative and survey data - consistent with strong privacy protections - to improve (or help other entities improve) federal, state, and local programs in FY17? (Examples: Model data-sharing agreements or data-licensing agreements; data tagging and documentation; data standardization; open data policies)

Administration for Children and Families (HHS)
  • ACF has made numerous administrative and survey datasets publicly available for secondary use, such as data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education, Child Care and Development Fund, National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, and Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, among many other examples.
  • ACF’s Interoperability Initiative supports data sharing through developing standards and tools that are reusable across the country, and addressing common privacy and security requirements to mitigate risks. In 2016, ACF established a new Division of Data and Improvement providing federal leadership and resources to improve the quality, use, and sharing of data. ACF has developed resources such as the National Human Services Interoperability Architecture, which proposes a framework to facilitate information sharing, improve service delivery, prevent fraud, and provide better outcomes for children and families; an Interoperability Toolkit to help state human services agencies connect with their health counterparts; and a Confidentiality Toolkit that supports state and local efforts by explaining rules governing confidentiality in ACF and certain related programs, by providing examples of how confidentiality requirements can be addressed, and by including sample Memoranda of Understandings and data sharing agreements.
  • Several ACF divisions have also been instrumental in supporting cross-governmental efforts, such as the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) that will enable human services agencies to collaborate with health, education, justice, and many other constituencies that play a role in the well-being of children and families.
  • ACF’s National Directory of New Hires has entered into data sharing agreements with numerous agencies. For example, DOL’s CEO and ETA have interagency agreements with HHS-ACF for sharing and matching earnings data on 9 different formal net impact evaluations. The NDNH Guide for Data Submission describes an agreement with the Social Security Administration to use its network for data transmission. Also, ACF Administers the Public Assistance Reporting Information System, a platform for exchange of data on benefits receipt across ACF, Department of Defense, and Veterans Affairs programs. This platform entails data sharing agreements between these three federal agencies and between ACF and state agencies.
Corporation for National and Community Service
  • As the nation’s largest grant maker for service and volunteering, CNCS collects data about service program members, volunteers, and the organizations in which members and volunteers are placed. Member/volunteer demographic, service experience, and outcome data are collected in a variety of ways – both through administrative processes and through surveys:
    • In FY17, data collected from a revised member exit survey allowed CNCS to generate more accurate reports on key experiences and anticipated college, career, and civic engagement outcomes, which were shared internally. Survey results are being shared with program and agency leadership in FY17 for program improvement purposes. In FY17, R&E finalized a data request form and an MOU template so that program-level and state-level data sets and reports can be shared with partners. The agency is working on protocols to share these data on our open data platform.
    • The agency launched 2 Open Data projects in FY17. Volunteering statistics were made available through this interactive platform for the first time as well as service location data. The goal was to make these data more accessible to all interested end-users. Additional projects will be identified in FY17.
    • A report summarizing cross-sectional survey findings on Senior Corps Foster Grandparents and Senior Companion Program volunteers was posted in FY17. A longitudinal survey of volunteers in these 2 Senior Corps programs was implemented in FY15, and preliminary findings (year one follow up data) have been shared internally and are expected to be released as an interim report in FY17.
    • The dataset of alumni identified for the alumni outcome survey pilot will be shared with the Census and matched with the LEHD survey data, with findings expected in late FY17. This administrative data match between alumni records and the Census’ LEHD dataset to obtain employment and employment sector outcomes for AmeriCorps alumni will help the agency reduce its reliance on traditional survey methods so that key economic outcomes can be obtained from more objective sources and for less cost.
    • CNCS worked closely with the U.S. Census Bureau in FY17 to revise the Current Population Survey supplements to improve the data quality of these instruments. One supplement was created based on a thorough literature review, psychometric testing, cognitive interviews, and public comment. The instrument is being reviewed by OIRA and data collection is planned for September 2017.
    • VISTA has initiated a qualitative study involving a document review of a sample of Volunteer Assignment Descriptions (VADs) and VISTA Annual Project Progress Reports (PPRs). The twofold purpose of the project is (A) to support VISTA’s efforts to assess the concurrence between the volunteer’s work assignments and their actual duties; and (B) assess the quality, consistency, utility, depth and completeness of their qualitative records and data. Specifically, VISTA seeks to evaluate required project records to determine the extent to which these records can be used to inform program reports, evaluations and impact assessments and policy discussions.
    • The purpose of the Disaster Services Unit member deployment survey is to obtain AmeriCorps Disaster Response team (ADR-T) members’ perception of their deployment experience so that supervisors and DSU can monitor members’ experience and make the necessary changes to improve deployments. The survey has questions pertaining to their general experiences with the logistics, safety, their experiences working with team members, supervisors, other individuals such as families and other organizations and how meaningful those experiences were for the members, and an assessment of the training provided and skills learned. The survey will be implemented as a pilot and the final version will be part of DSU’s clearance package that will be submitted to OMB in December 2017. The expectation is that each ARD-T member will take the survey at the end of their deployment and that their supervisor may also ask some open ended questions 30 days after the deployment.
    • The Social Innovation Fund’s Pay for Success Administrative Data Pilot launched in FY17 will increase access to administrative data sets for evaluation purposes, and findings will be available by the end of the fiscal year.
Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • MCC’s M&E Division oversees the publication of anonymized evaluation data to MCC’s public Evaluation Catalog. In the Catalog, partner countries, as well as the general public, can access the microdata and results of independent evaluations for MCC-funded projects, and public use versions of the data used in those evaluations. The M&E plans and tables of key performance indicators are available online by compact and by sector. All evaluation data is meticulously reviewed by MCC’s internal Disclosure Review Board prior to posting to ensure that respondents’ privacy is protected.
  • MCC’s Economic Analysis division publishes constraints analysis reports and interactive, downloadable Economic Rate of Return (ERR) spreadsheets that include the description of the project, including its economic rationale; the expected project impacts, including detailed cost and benefit estimates; and a tool allowing users to modify key assumptions and study the effects of those modifications on the project’s returns.
  • As part of its Data2x commitment, MCC and other donors are increasing the amount of gender data released and helping to improve international data transparency standards.
  • MCC is a founding partner of the Governance Data Alliance, a collaborative effort by governance data producers, consumers, and funders to improve the quality, availability, breadth, and use of governance data.
  • MCC has a partnership with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which is helping to increase the availability and quality of development-related data in selected countries. The Data Collaboratives for Local Impact program supports innovative and country-led approaches that promote evidence-based decision-making for programs and policies that address HIV/AIDS, global health, gender equality, and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. Data Collaboratives projects are strengthening the availability and use of data to improve lives and empower citizens to hold governments and donors more accountable for results. The program aligns with broader U.S. government efforts to maximize the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance and with the Global Data Partnership’s efforts to promote data collaboration to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • SAMHSA has five data collection initiatives: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): population data; Treatment Episode Data Set – Admissions: client level data; National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS): substance abuse facilities data; Drug Abuse Warning Network: emergency department data; and the National Mental Health Services Survey (N-MHSS) and has made numerous administrative and survey datasets publicly available for secondary use. Each data collection can be sorted by metadata parameters such as geography, methodology, spotlights, data reviews, and data tables. CBHSQ oversees these data collection initiatives and provides publicly available datasets so that some data can be shared with researchers and other stakeholders while preserving client confidentiality and privacy. Some restricted data cannot be shared beyond federal staff.
  • CBHSQ prepares specialized reports on a range of mental health and substance use issues relevant to government officials and policymakers at the state, federal, and community levels. These are publicly available at the National Library of Medicine and the SAMHSA website.
  • SAMHSA’s Data Integrity Statement articulates the administration’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ), a Federal Statistical Unit, adherence to the federal common set of professional and operational standards that ensure the “quality, integrity, and credibility” of statistical activities.
  • SAMHSA’s Performance and Accountability and Reporting System (SPARS) hosts the data entry, technical assistance request, and training system for grantees to report performance data to SAMHSA. SPARS serves as the repository for the Administration’s 3 centers, Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention (CSAP), Center for Mental health Services (CMHS), and Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). Due to concerns about confidentiality and privacy, the current data transfer agreement limits the use of grantee data to internal reports so that data collected by SAMHSA grantees will not be available to share with researchers or stakeholders beyond SAMHSA and publications based on grantee data will not be permitted. We expect to revisit the issue once the Commission on Evidence Base Policymaking releases their findings in September 2017. Enhancements to the existing data collection system to improve data transparency and sharing of administrative and performance data are being planned. The foundational system went live in February 2017. Going forward, changes will allow for analytic reports to be shared with grantees so that performance successes and gaps can be better tracked, both by the project officers overseeing the grantees and by the grantees themselves. It is anticipated that this will improve communication and oversight as well as offer more real-time opportunities for program performance.
  • SAMHSA’s Performance and Accountability and Reporting System (SPARS) hosts the data entry, technical assistance request, and training system for grantees to report performance data to SAMHSA. SPARS serves as the repository for the Administration’s 3 centers, Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention (CSAP), Center for Mental health Services (CMHS), and Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). Due to concerns about confidentiality and privacy, the current data transfer agreement limits the use of grantee data to internal reports so that data collected by SAMHSA grantees will not be available to share with researchers or stakeholders beyond SAMHSA and publications based on grantee data will not be permitted. We expect to revisit the issue once the Commission on Evidence Base Policymaking releases their findings in September 2017.
  • SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA) contains substance use disorder and mental illness research data available for restricted and public use. SAMHDA promotes the access and use of SAMHSA’s substance abuse and mental health data by providing public-use data files and documentation for download and online analysis tools to support a better understanding of this critical area of public health.
  • Per SAMHSA’s Evaluation Policy & Procedure (P&P), CBHSQ will work with CMHS, CSAT, and CSAP Center Directors and other program staff to develop a SAMHSA Completed Evaluation Inventory of evaluations completed between FY11 and FY17. This inventory and the evaluation final reports will then be made available on SAMHSA’s intranet and internet sites. In addition, data files from completed evaluations will be made available on the intranet, and via a restricted access mechanism such as SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA).
U.S. Agency for International Development
  • USAID has an open data policy which in addition to setting requirements for how USAID data is tagged, submitted, and updated, also established the Development Data Library (DDL) as the Agency’s repository of USAID-funded, machine readable data created or collected by the Agency and its implementing partners.
  • In FY16, USAID began developing the Development Information Solution (DIS) – a suite of IT tools designed to harness the richness of USAID’s data across our offices and operating units, improve efficiencies across the entire Program Cycle, and support the ability to tell one cohesive story about how well USAID’s activities are achieving their goals.
  • USAID is committed to advancing the many efforts that are currently underway to increase the transparency of funding and programming, with the understanding that quality information and reporting can help stakeholders manage and monitor aid resources more effectively. In November 2011, the United States became a signatory to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) – a voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiative that created a data standard for publishing foreign assistance spending data and allowing comparison across publishers. In July 2015, USAID produced a cost management plan (CMP) in order to improve the number of fields reported to IATI as well as to institutionalize the process by which the Agency reports its data.
  • USAID also created and maintains the Foreign Aid Explorer, a site that reports comprehensively on U.S. government foreign assistance, from 1946 – present.
  • The USAID GeoCenter uses data and analytics to improve the effectiveness of USAID’s development programs by geographically assessing where resources will maximize impact. The GeoCenter team works directly with field missions and Washington-based bureaus to integrate geographic analysis into the strategic planning, design, monitoring, and evaluation of USAID’s development programs. The GeoCenter also provides important data-centered trainings to USAID staff.
  • USAID’s Economic Analysis and Data Services (EADS) unit has a public web site to share data and also provides data analysis tools, including the aforementioned Foreign Aid Explorer. EADS also provides USAID staff, partners, and the public with analytical products and a platform for querying data. EADS also provides a training available to all USAID staff called Finding and Using Development Data, focused on helping USAID staff best utilize development data in their specific fields.
  • USAID uses data and evidence to inform policy formulation, strategic planning, project design, project management and adaptation, program monitoring and evaluation, and learning what works, through a framework called the Program Cycle.
  • USAID’s Monitoring Country Progress (MCP) system is an empirical analytical system which tracks and analyzes country progress to facilitate country strategic planning including country graduation from USG foreign assistance programs.
  • USAID also publishes spending data alongside program results on the Dollars to Results page of the USAID website. Dollars to Results provides illustrative information on USAID’s impact around the world by linking annual spending to results.
  • To help inform the U.S. Government’s aid transparency agenda, USAID conducted three aid transparency country pilot studies in Zambia (May 2014), Ghana (June 2014), and Bangladesh (September 2014). The final report summarizes findings from the three pilots and USAID is implementing many of the recommendations. For example, USAID tested the streamlining of direct IATI data reporting into Bangladesh’s Aid Information Management Systems (AIMS). This effort led to improved data quality, more comprehensive reporting and a decrease in the reporting burden for the mission.
U.S. Department of Education
  • ED has several resources to support the high-quality collection, analysis, and use of high-quality data in ways that protect privacy. IES’ National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) serves as the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education. Almost all of ED’s K-12 statistical and programmatic data collections are now administered by NCES via EDFacts. NCES also collects data through national and international surveys and assessments. Administrative institutional data and statistical sample survey data for postsecondary education is collected through NCES in collaboration with the Federal Student Aid Office (FSA). Some data are available through public access while others only through restricted data licenses. ED’s Office for Civil Rights conducts the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) on key education and civil rights issues in our nation’s public schools. Additionally, the Data Strategy Team helps to coordinate data activities across the Department and the Disclosure Review Board, the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO), the EDFacts Governing Board, and the Privacy Technical Assistance Center all help to ensure the quality and privacy of education data. NCES data are made publicly available online and can be located in the ED Data Inventory. In FY2017, ED continued to maintain and grow the Data Inventory, ensuring the information for ED contacts are up to date and expanding the library to include additional years of existing data sets as well as adding new data sets. Additionally, ED is exploring ways to leverage revisions to a technical system to use the data generated through information collection approval process to populate new entries within the Data Inventory.
  • ED made concerted efforts to improve the availability and use of its data in FY17. With the release of the new College 2016 Scorecard, the Department now provides newly combined data in a tool that helps students choose a school that is well-suited to meet their needs, priced affordably, and consistent with their educational and career goals. Additionally, the College 2016 Scorecard promotes the use of open data by providing the underlying data in formats that researchers and developers can use. In fall 2017, the Department will update the Scorecard as part of its annual data refresh.
  • The College 2016 Scorecard effort is a model for future releases of education data, and led to ED’s new effort, InformED, to improve Department capacity to release data in innovative and effective ways to improve public use of data. Through InformED, the Department has:
    • Secured hosting to enable the Office of Civil Rights—for the first time—to post the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) dataset online for direct download.
    • Established critical infrastructure for a more robust Department API program and, through ED’s newly-launched GitHub platform, provides developers with needed information and resources. This includes the creation and release of a new set of APIs providing developers with access to the CRDC, and My Brother’s Keeper data (including student outcomes in high school, college, and beyond by race/ethnicity and gender).
    • Built an interactive data story template and used it to deliver rich and accessible data narratives around the CRDC. The Department’s June 2016 data story, Chronic Absenteeism in the Nation’s Schools, generated substantial attention among the field and press.
    • Revamped how users find the Department’s data resources by updating the agency’s data landing page to be more comprehensive and interactive.
  • ED also participated in the Opportunity Project initiative, now coordinated by the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2016, ED participated in the initiative’s federal agency cohort of projects and worked with external developers to support the development of three online tools focused on equity gaps:
    • Kitamba & Data Society built the Philadelphia School Community Resource Mapper to help school leaders identify and connect with opportunities for community partnerships.
    • GreatSchools & Education Cities used college readiness data from ED’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) to measure and display gaps in access to educational opportunities across student groups (to be released shortly).
    • LiveStories built district- and school-level comparison tool “LiveStories IQ” and customizable data briefs using CRDC data to help local school districts and education foundations to discover and share compelling data narratives.
  • In 2017, ED is supporting development of a tool to support homeless youth to access resources, including education.
  • ED partnered with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop a resource supporting data-sharing between public housing agencies and school districts: Data Sharing Road Map: Improving Student Outcomes through Partnerships between Public Housing Agencies and School Districts.
  • Additionally, ED administers the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) program ($32.3 million in FY17), which provides grants to states to develop their education-related data infrastructure and use these data for education improvement.
U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development
  • The HUDUSER.gov web portal continues to provide researchers, practitioners, and the public with PD&R datasets including the American Housing Survey, HUD median family income limits and Fair Market Rents, and Picture of Subsidized Households tabulations of administrative tenant records at multiple geographic levels. HUD sponsors custom tabulations of American Community Survey data that make standard adjustments of household incomes and units for household size to enable researchers and practitioners to analyze state and local housing needs. HUD provides researchers with microdata from experimental program demonstrations and research initiatives on topics such as housing discrimination, the HUD-insured multifamily housing stock, and the public housing population. To help users identify which data are useful to them, reference guides identify datasets and characterize their relevance and usefulness for research in designated categories. HUD partnered with the Census Bureau to enhance public access to the American Housing Survey with a new custom table creator and infographics to summarize results.
  • HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) has authority to enter into cooperative agreements with research organizations, including both funded Research Partnerships and unfunded Data License Agreements, to support innovative research projects that leverage HUD’s data assets and inform HUD’s policies and programs. A dedicated subject-matter expert is available to answer questions for those seeking a data license. Data licensing protocols ensure that confidential information is protected.
  • PD&R partnered with the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control to link HUD administrative data for assisted renters with respondents to two national health surveys and made the linked data available to researchers to begin building a picture of tenant health issues. Data access through the research data center ensures that confidential information is protected.
  • A PD&R partnership with the Department of Education to link administrative records for assisted renters and student aid applications is supporting three low-cost random-assignment experiments that test the impact of various nudges and informational supports on application completion and college attendance.
  • HUD is involved in a wide array of data-sharing agreements described under Data Infrastructure in the Roadmap Update (see pp.52–56). Notably, HUD and the Census Bureau have entered an interagency agreement for the Bureau’s Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications (CARRA) to link data from HUD’s tenant databases and randomized control trials with the Bureau’s survey data collection and other administrative data collected under its Title 13 authority. These RCT datasets are the first intervention data added to Federal Statistical RDCs by any federal agency, and strict protocols ensure that confidential information is protected.
U.S. Department of Labor
  • DOL makes the majority of its administrative and survey datasets publicly available for secondary use. For more information, see CEO’s Public Use Datasets and ETA’s repository of public use datasets.
  • DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (approximately $600 million in FY17) serves as the principal Federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy. BLS has 110 Cooperative Agreements with 50 States and 4 Territories for labor market and economic data sharing. For calendar year 2016, there were 513 “letters of agreement” on data usage with academics to conduct statistical research, and 8 data sharing agreements with the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau, for a total of 521 agreements.
  • DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has agreements with 52 States and Territories for data sharing and exchange of wage data for performance accountability purposes. In FY15 DOL’s ETA began work with the Department of Education’s Office of Career Technical and Adult Education, Rehabilitative Services Administration and Office of the General Counsel to revise and renegotiate the agreements that ETA shares with 52 States and Territories to facilitate better access to quarterly wage data by States for purposes of performance accountability and Research and Evaluation requirements under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This work aims to expand access to wage data to Education’s Adult and Family Literacy Act programs (AEFLA) and Vocational Rehabilitation programs among others. This work has continued through FY17 and is being conducted in collaboration with State agencies who are subject to the performance accountability and research and evaluation requirements of WIOA and the State Unemployment Insurance Agencies.
  • DOL’s CEO, Employment Training Administration (ETA), and the Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) have worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a secure mechanism for obtaining and analyzing earnings data from the Directory of New Hires. In this past year DOL has entered into interagency data sharing agreements with HHS and obtained data to support 10 job training and employment program evaluations.
  • DOL’s worker protection agencies have open-data provisions on enforcement activity for firms from DOL’s five labor enforcement agencies online and accessible through the Enforcement Data Base (Mine Safety and Health Administration, Wage and Hour Division, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration).
  • The privacy provisions for BLS and DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) are publicly available online.
  • In FY17, DOL continued efforts to improve the quality of and access to data for evaluation and performance analysis through the Data Analytics Unit in DOL’s CEO office, and through new pilots beginning in BLS to access and exchange state labor market and earnings data for statistical and evaluation purposes. The Data Analytics unit has also updated its Data Exchange and Analysis Platform (DEAP) with high processing capacity and privacy provisions to share, link, and analyze program and survey data across DOL programs and agencies and with other agencies. Internal use of DEAP is available now and public access will be available in the future.
  • The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) calls for aligned indicators of performance for WIOA authorized programs. DOL’s Employment and Training Administration has worked within DOL and with the U.S. Department of Education to pursue the deepest WIOA alignment possible, including indicators definitions, data elements, and specifications to improve the quality and analytic value of the data. DOL chose to include several additional DOL programs in this process, which will result in unprecedented alignment of data and definitions for 13 federal programs (11 DOL and 2 Education). DOL and ED have issued five WIOA Final Rules, which all became effective October 18, 2016. The regulations cover WIOA programs under Title I, II, III, and IV, in addition to other miscellaneous changes. The aligned indicators of performance are included in the DOL-ED Joint Rule for WIOA, part 677.
  • ETA continues funding and technical assistance to states under the Workforce Data Quality Initiative to link earnings and workforce data and education data longitudinally. ETA and DOL’s Veteran’s Employment and Training Service have also modified state workforce program reporting system requirements to include data items for a larger set of grant programs, which will improve access to administrative data for evaluation and performance management purposes. An example of the expanded data reporting requirements is the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program FY16 grants.
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