Washington Statistical Society
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Summer 2008


William Bell and Robert Groves to Receive 2008 Julius Shiskin Award

William R. Bell, a Senior Mathematical Statistician at the U.S. Census Bureau, and Robert M. Groves, Director of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, have been selected as the recipients of the 2008 Julius Shiskin Memorial Award for Economic Statistics. This award recognizes unusually original and important contributions in the development of economic statistics or in the use of statistics in interpreting the economy. Dr. Bell is recognized for innovative statistical research that led to improved economic statistics through important contributions to the theory and practice of seasonal adjustment, small area estimation, and time series modeling; Dr. Groves is recognized for innovative statistical research that led to improved economic statistics through important contributions to the theory and practice of survey methods for the conduct of sample surveys of both households and establishments. Drs. Bell and Groves become the 34th and 35th recipients of the Shiskin Award; they will be honored at events hosted by the three organizations that sponsor the award: the Washington Statistical Society, the National Association for Business Economics, and the Business and Economics Section of the American Statistical Association.

Dr. Bell has served as a Senior Mathematical Statistician at the Census Bureau since 1998 and, for the previous 10 years, as one of the Bureau's Principal Researchers for Time Series Methods. Dr. Bell, through both individual and collaborative work, has conducted research that has resulted in fundamental contributions to the seasonal adjustment and survey methods used by statistical offices and central banks in many countries. Through his work, Dr. Bell has significantly enhanced the reputation of the Census Bureau and of U.S. economic statistics throughout the world. For seasonal adjustment, his work has provided methods and software for estimating time series models accounting for trading/working day effects, the effects of moving holidays, and the automatic identification and estimation of certain kinds of outlier effects. These methods and software became the time series modeling part of the X-12-ARIMA seasonal adjustment program that has been used by U.S. statistical agencies and by many national statistical offices throughout the world. Dr. Bell also has provided theoretical and practical results to solidify the foundations for purely model-based methods of seasonal adjustment that are now also used internationally. Dr. Bell is also well-known for an influential article that reviewed the history of and statistical issues arising in seasonal adjustment. The article, "Issues Involved with the Seasonal Adjustment of Economic Time Series," coauthored with Steven Hillmer, was published in the 1984 Journal of Business and Economic Statistics (JBES) and reprinted (January 2002) by JBES in a special 20th anniversary commemorative issue containing, according to the editors, "reprints of ten of the most influential papers published in the journal."

Dr. Bell also was influential in extending and applying time series modeling techniques to improve the estimates in surveys based on small samples. In this context he established a time series modeling framework that became a foundation of the methods adopted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to produce state-level monthly labor force estimates that are used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funds.

Dr. Bell has also done important work on small area estimation outside of time series approaches. He was an original member of a team at the Census Bureau charged with developing periodic model-based estimates of income and poverty for states, counties, and school districts. On this project -- Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) -- he played a key role as a liaison to the statistical community, most particularly the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel established by Congress to determine that the basis for the estimates was scientifically sound. Following a favorable review by that panel, the Department of Education used the SAIPE estimates to allocate billions of dollars to school districts under their Title I program. In recent years, Dr. Bell has been responsible for oversight of the statistical methods used by the SAIPE program, including changing methods, such as the use of data from the American Community Survey, to further improve the estimates. Dr. Bell was an Associate editor of JBES from 1988-1995 and was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1993.

Dr. Groves has directed the University of Michigan Survey Research Center, one of the world's leading academic survey organizations, since 2001; he also is professor of Sociology, research professor at its Institute for Social Research, and research professor at the Joint Program in Survey Methodology, at the University of Maryland. Through his research, Dr. Groves has significantly improved the quality of both establishment and household surveys in the areas of sample design, nonresponse effects, data collection methods, weighting design, disclosure security, and data quality. He also has contributed insights on the use of incentives to improve response rates, and his current research interests focus on the development of theories to explain respondent participation in surveys and of models of nonresponse reduction and adjustment. The results of his research have been incorporated into many surveys, including the current employment and consumer expenditure surveys at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, household income surveys at the Census Bureau, and surveys conducted by national statistical offices in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and The Netherlands.

In the past two decades, Dr. Groves has authored or co-authored five books and more than 50 articles. His 1989 book, Survey Errors and Survey Costs, was named one of the 50 most influential books in survey research by the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). His book, Nonresponse in Household Interview Surveys, (with M. Couper) was given the 2008 AAPOR Book Award. His most recent effort, a coauthored volume, Survey Methodology, was published in 2004. Illustrative of his recent research is an article that recently appeared in Public Opinion Quarterly. In "Nonresponse Rates and Nonresponse Bias in Household Surveys," he reported that the results of surveys with high nonresponse rates did not necessarily also have high nonresponse bias.

Dr. Groves has been a long-time contributor to improving federal statistics through his work for the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition to serving as a member of CNSTAT from 2000 to 2006, he has chaired or served as a member of many panels and workshops, including the recent panel on business dynamics, and performance. As a member of CNSTAT, Dr. Groves made substantial improvements to the third edition of Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, in particular to the rationale for the political independence of statistical agencies. Dr. Groves was elected a fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1982, elected a member of the International Statistical Institute in 1994, and named a National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences in 2004.

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Mailing Address Change

The mailing address for the Washington Statistical Society is now P.O. Box 2033, Washington, DC 20013 which is in the same building as BLS. The Suitland P.O. box mailing address will be retained for a limited time during the transition.

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JSM 2008 SRMS Continuing Education Course

SRMS is pleased to co-sponsor the following short course. Registration for JSM opened on May 1 and ends on July 17th. There is a significant cost savings if you register for the short courses on or before July 17th.

Sunday, August 3, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Sampling in Networks - Instructor: Steven K. Thompson, Simon Fraser University

Network models are increasingly used to describe populations, including socially networked human populations, computer and communication networks, and gene regulatory networks. A network has nodes (e.g., people) and links (e.g., relationships between people). The nodes may have characteristics of interest, and the relationships may be of different types and strengths. However, network data generally represent a sample from the wider population network of interest. This short course will cover methods for obtaining samples from networks and using the sample data to make inference about characteristics of the population network. In many cases the only practical way to obtain a large enough sample from the population is to follow links from sample individuals to add more participants to the sample. For example, in studies of the risk behaviors in people at risk for HIV/AIDS, the population is hidden so standard sampling designs cannot be applied. Instead, researchers follow social referrals from individuals in the sample to find more members of the hidden population. Similarly, in studies of the World Wide Web, links or connections from sites in the sample are followed to add more sites to the sample. Network methods also turn out to be useful for spatial sampling in environmental and ecological sciences where the populations tend to be highly clustered or rare. Link-tracing sampling designs will be described, together with design-based and Bayes methods for estimating population characteristics based on such samples. Computational methods and available software also will be described.

Course participants will learn basic ideas and modern methods of network sampling and inference. Introduction to available software and computational methods will facilitate course participants in implementing network sampling and inference methods in their own work.

For more information about the content to be covered in this course refer to http://www.amstat.org/meetings/jsm/2008/onlineprogram, or contact Leyla Mohadjer at leylamohadjer@westat.com.

Anyone who has suggestions for short course topics or is interested in finding out more about how to submit a proposal to teach a short course at a future JSM conference should contact Leyla Mohadjer at leylamohadjer@westat.com.

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Federal Committee On Statistical Methodology Statistical Policy Seminar

Beyond 2010: Confronting the Challenges
November 18-19, 2008

The Ninth in a Series of Seminars Hosted by COPAFS
(The Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics)

Participants will include statisticians, economists, and managers, as well as other professionals in the broader statistical community who share an interest in keeping current on issues related to federal data.

Support Provided by:

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • Bureau of Justice Statistics
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Bureau of Transportation Statistics
  • Energy Information Administration
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Agricultural Statistics Service
  • National Center for Education Statistics
  • National Center for Health Statistics
  • Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics of the Social Security Administration
  • Statistics of Income Division of the Internal Revenue Service * U.S. Census Bureau * Science Resources Statistics/National Science Foundation


  • Statistical Uses of Administrative Records in Federal Agencies
  • Case Studies in the Statistical Uses of Administrative Records
  • Cell Phones: The New Frontier in RDD surveys
  • New Perspectives and Practices on Non-Response Bias Analyses
  • Current Issues in Privacy and the Safekeeping of Personally Identifiable Information
  • Survey Respondent Incentives
  • Current Trends in Access to Restricted-Use Data
  • Development and Management of Human and Institutional Capital in Statistical Organizations
  • 2010 Census Experiments
  • Issues of Data Capacity and Statistical Quality to Support Modeling and Micro-simulation Efforts
  • Making Survey Processes More Robust in Response to Funding Reductions
  • Using Paradata to Improve the Management of Survey Costs

Keynote Address: Hermann Habermann, Consultant

Location and Seminar Cost: L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, 480 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024 Cost: $195.00 per person

For Further Information, Contact the COPAFS Office at: Phone: 703-836-0404 Email: copafs@aol.com Fax: 703-836-0406

The registration form is available at the COPAFS web site at: www.copafs.org

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Association of Public Data Users (APDU) Annual Conference

Federal Data in a Time of Change
September 24-25, 2008
The Brookings Institution, Washington DC

As the nation experiences significant changes in demographic circumstances and economic conditions, federal data are critical for tracking trends and framing issues and opportunities. The 2008 APDU conference at the Brookings Institution provides a unique forum for data users, producers, and intermediaries to learn about and discuss federal data programs, policies, tools, and uses. Key session topics include: housing data in a declining market; data that track volatile pocketbook costs; and key challenges facing the 2010 Census; population estimates; and the American Community Survey. Among the highlighted speakers include Katherine K. Wallman, Chief Statistician, US Office of Management and Budget, Steve Murdock, Director of the Census Bureau, Constance F. Citro, Director, Committee on National Statistics, and Ed Spar, Executive Director, Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics.

Complete conference details are available at: http://www.apdu.org/conference/2008/

P. O. Box 100155
Arlington, VA 22210
Denise M. Bosmans
703-522-4980 x20

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Fall 2008 Courses
Applied and Computational Mathematics Program
Johns Hopkins University

The Applied and Computational Mathematics (ACM) Program at the Johns Hopkins University will offer the graduate courses listed below in the fall semester (3 September 2008 to 13 December 2008) at locations in the Baltimore-Washington area (Howard and Montgomery Counties, Maryland). Subject to meeting admission criteria, a non-degree candidate may register as a special student to take one or more courses to enhance mathematical and statistical skills. These courses are scheduled at times convenient for the working adult. Download the announcement (pdf) for course details. More information is available from:

James C. Spall
Chair, Applied and Computational Mathematics Program
The Johns Hopkins University, Engineering Programs for Professionals
Applied Physics Laboratory
11100 Johns Hopkins Road
Laurel, Maryland 20723-6099

Ph.: 240-228-4960 (Washington)/443-778-4960 (Baltimore)
Fax: 240-228-8110 (Washington)/443-778-8110 (Baltimore)
E-mail: james.spall@jhuapl.edu

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Note From The WSS NEWS Editor

Items for publication in the September issue of the WSS NEWS should be submitted no later than August 15, 2008. E-mail items to Michael Feil at michael.feil@usda.gov.

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Click here to see the WSS Board Listing (pdf)
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