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Former Government Statistical Agency Heads Call for Better Use of Data in Policymaking

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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Read the Full Letter

The following letter, signed by 36 former leaders in the U.S. Federal Statistical System, calls on Congress and the Trump administration to improve how data are used in policymaking, which will result in more effective federal programs for the American public.

The letter calls for action to implement the unanimous recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. BPC’s Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative has been closely tracking efforts to implement the bipartisan recommendations of the commission.


“Dear Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Madam Leader, Mr. Majority Leader, and Mr. Minority Leader:

The undersigned are former leaders in the United States Federal Statistical System. In our various capacities we were charged with safeguarding the confidential data collected in our country, a duty we took very seriously on behalf of the American public. We were also charged with ensuring the public’s trust in data collected by government and the statistics generated from those data. We are proud of the statistical system’s historical ability to achieve these tasks in the face of countless obstacles.

Today there are numerous challenges facing our country’s generation of evidence in our decentralized statistical system. But with each of these challenges we observe numerous opportunities to improve.

Today there are numerous challenges facing our country’s generation of evidence in our decentralized statistical system. But with each of these challenges we observe numerous opportunities to improve. For example, as technologies continue to evolve the threats to privacy are real, but we can also harness these technologies to ensure privacy protections are strong. Even as funding is restricted for analyzing data, we can improve how government’s data are securely accessed to utilize the vast resources of the academic research community.

In 2017, the U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking provided you with a promising strategy to better use data already collected by government, and to do so in a privacy protective and secure manner. In our view, when the Commission’s recommendations are implemented our country will have a stronger statistical system, data collected from the American public will be more strongly protected, and we will be able to generate more of the evidence demanded for informing important policy decisions. We write to encourage you to act on the unanimous and bipartisan recommendations of the Commission.”

Continue reading the letter >>

KEYWORDS: PAUL RYAN, MITCH MCCONNELL, CHUCK SCHUMER, NANCY PELOSI, COMMISSION ON EVIDENCE-BASED POLICYMAKING, EVIDENCE-BASED POLICYMAKING INITIATIVE

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