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February 2014


The NSF-Census Bureau Research Network (NCRN) Virtual Seminar Series

The NCRN Virtual Seminar is held at different locations throughout the network, every first Wednesday of each month. Nodes participate using videoconferencing equipment, from on- campus locations as listed under each event. Active participants can ask questions through the live video feed.

Participation via videoconference is open to interested parties, in particular at other non- NCRN universities and statistical agencies at the federal, state, and local level, as long as equipment requirements can be satisfied. For more information, contact Lars Vilhuber (lars.vilhuber@cornell.edu).

A streaming version of the NCRN Virtual Seminar is available, but it does not allow for interaction with the seminar participants. The recorded version of the Virtual Seminar will generally be available shortly afterwards, and will be available in our Library of NCRN Virtual Seminars.

Additional information is available at http://ncrn.info/events/virtual-seminar.

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Seeking Award Nominations
Gertrude M. Cox Award Committee Seeking Nominees for the 2014 Gertrude M Cox Award

February 28, 2014

The Gertrude M Cox award was established in 2003 through a joint agreement between the Washington Statistical Society (WSS) and RTI International.

The award annually recognizes a statistician in early to mid-career (less than 15 years after his/her terminal degree) who has made significant contributions to one or more of the areas of applied statistics in which Gertrude Cox worked: survey methodology, experimental design, biostatistics, and statistical computing.

The award is in memory of Gertrude M. Cox (1900-1978), American Statistical Association President (1956) and a founder of modern statistics. In 1945, Dr. Cox became director of the Institute of Statistics of the Consolidated University of North Carolina. In the 1950's, as Head of the Department of Experimental Statistics at North Carolina State College, she played a key role in establishing Mathematical Statistics and Biostatistics Departments at the University of North Carolina. Upon her retirement from North Carolina State University in 1960, Dr. Cox became the first head of Statistical Research Division at the newly founded RTI. She was a founding member of the International Biometric Society (IBS) and in 1949 became the first woman elected into the International Statistical Institute. She served as president of both The American Statistical Association (1956) and the IBS (1968-69). In 1975 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

The award is presented at the WSS Annual Dinner, usually held in June, with the recipient delivering a talk on a topic of general interest to the WSS membership before the dinner.

This award is made possible by funding from RTI International, and the recipient is chosen by a six-person committee — three each from WSS and RTI. This year's committee consists of WSS President Nancy Bates (co-chair), Past President Keith Rust, and President-Elect Diane Herz; and Safaa Amer, Phil Kott, and Karol Krotki (co-chair) from RTI.

The award includes a $1,000 honorarium, travel expenses to attend the WSS Annual Dinner, and a commemorative WSS plaque. Past recipients, in chronological order: Sharon Lohr, Alan Zaslavsky, Tom Belin, Vance Berger, Francesca Domenici, Thomas Lumley, Jean Opsomer, Michael Elliott, Nilanjan Chatterjee, Amy Herring, and Frauke Kreuter. Please email your nominations to Karol Krotki (kkrotki@rti.org) by February 28, 2014 with a supporting statement and CV (or link).

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Seeking Award Nominations
2014 Julius Shiskin Award

March 15, 2014

Nominations are invited for the annual Julius Shiskin Memorial Award for Economic Statistics. The Award is given in recognition of unusually original and important contributions in the development of economic statistics or in the use of statistics in interpreting the economy. Contributions can be in development of new statistical measures, statistical research, use of economic statistics to analyze and interpret economic activity, development of statistical tools, management of statistical programs, or application of data production techniques. The Award was established in 1980 by the Washington Statistical Society (WSS) and is now cosponsored by the WSS, the National Association for Business Economics, and the Business and Economics Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association (ASA). The 2013 award recipients were John C. Haltiwanger, Distinguished University Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland, and Maurine Haver, President and founder of Haver Analytics Inc. for their initiatives to educate users and producers of key federal economic statistics.

The award is in memory of Julius Shiskin, who had a varied and remarkable public service career. At the time of his death in 1978, "Julie" was the Commissioner for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and earlier served as the Chief Statistician at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Chief Economic Statistician and Assistant Director of the Census Bureau. Throughout his career, he was known as an innovator. At Census he was instrumental in developing an electronic computer method for seasonal adjustment. In 1961, he published Signals of Recession and Recovery, which laid the groundwork for the calculation of monthly economic indicators, and he developed the monthly Census report Business Conditions Digest to disseminate them to the public. In 1969, he was appointed Chief Statistician at OMB where he developed the policies and procedures that govern the release of key economic indicators (Statistical Policy Directive Number 3), and originated a Social Indicators report. In 1973, he was selected to head BLS where he was instrumental in preserving the integrity and independence of the BLS labor force data and directed the most comprehensive revision in the history of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which included a new CPI for all urban consumers.

Nominations for the 2014 award are now being accepted. Individuals and groups in the public or private sector from any country can be nominated. The award will be presented with an honorarium of $1000 plus additional recognition from the sponsors. A nomination form and a list of all previous recipients are available on the ASA Website at www.amstat.org/sections/bus_econ/shiskin.html.

For questions or more information, please contact Steven Paben, Julius Shiskin Award Committee Secretary, via e-mail at paben.steven@bls.gov or call 202-691-6147. Completed nominations must be received by March 15, 2014.

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Seeking Award Nominations
2014 Roger Herriot Award

April 1, 2014

Roger Herriot was the Associate Commissioner of Statistical Standards and Methodology at the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) when he died in 1994. Prior to his service at NCES, he also held several positions at the U.S. Census Bureau, including Chief of the Population Division. Soon after his death, the Social Statistics and Government Statistics Sections of the American Statistical Association (ASA) along with the Washington Statistical Society (a chapter of ASA) established the Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics. The award is intended to recognize individuals or teams who, like Roger, develop unique and innovative approaches to the solution of statistical problems in federal data collection programs.

Nominations are sought for the 2014 Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics. The award is intended to reflect the special characteristics that marked Roger Herriot's career including:

  • Dedication to the issues of measurement;
  • Improvements in the efficiency of data collection programs; and
  • Improvements and use of statistical data for policy analysis.

The award is not limited to senior members of an organization, nor is it to be considered as a culmination of a long period of service. Individuals or teams at all levels within Federal statistical agencies, other government organizations, nonprofit organizations, the private sector, and the academic community may be nominated on the basis of their contributions. As innovation often requires or results from teamwork, team nominations are encouraged. Team innovations often are more lasting, resulting in real paradigm shifts, not just one-off improvements. For an example, see the 1998 Herriot (team) and the 2013 project awards.

The recipient of the 2014 Roger Herriot Award will be chosen by a committee comprising representatives of the Social Statistics and Government Statistics Sections of the American Statistical Association, and of the Washington Statistical Society. Roger Herriot was associated with, and strongly supportive of, these organizations during his career. The award consists of a $1,000 honorarium and a framed citation, which will be presented at a ceremony at the Joint Statistical Meetings in August 2014. The Washington Statistical Society will also host a seminar given by the winner on a subject of his or her own choosing.

Past recipients of the Roger Herriot Award: 1995 - Joseph Waksberg (Westat)
1996 - Monroe Sirken (National Center for Health Statistics)
1997 - Constance Citro (National Academy of Sciences)
1998 - Roderick Harrison (U.S. Census Bureau), Clyde Tucker (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
1999 - Thomas Jabine (SSA, EIA, CNSTAT)
2000 - Donald Dillman (Washington State University)
2001 - Jeanne Griffith (OMB, NCES, NSF)
2002 - Daniel Weinberg (U. S. Census Bureau)
2003 - David Banks (FDA, BTS, NIST)
2004 - Paula Schneider (U.S. Census Bureau)
2005 - Robert E. Fay III (U.S. Census Bureau)
2006 - Nathaniel Schenker (National Center for Health Statistics)
2007 - Nancy J. Kirkendall (Office of Management and Budget)
2008 - Elizabeth Martin (U.S. Census Bureau)
2009 - Lynda Carlson (National Science Foundation)
2010 - Katharine Abraham (University of Maryland)
2011 - Michael Messner (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
2012 - Paul Biemer (RTI International)
2013 - 1973 Exact Match Project

Nominations for the 2012 award will be accepted beginning in January 2014. Nomination packages should contain:

  • A cover letter from the nominator that includes references to specific examples of the nominee's contributions to innovation in Federal statistics. These contributions can be to methodology, procedure, organization, administration, or other areas of Federal statistics, and need not have been made by or while a Federal employee.
  • Up to six additional letters in support that demonstrate the innovativeness of each contribution.
  • A current vita for the nominee with current contact information.

The committee may consider nominations made for prior years, but it encourages resubmission of those nominations with updated information.

For more information, contact John Dixon, Chair of the 2014 Roger Herriot Award Committee, at 202-691-7516 or dixon.john@bls.

> Completed packages must be received by April 1, 2014. Electronic submissions in MS-Word or as a "pdf" file are strongly encouraged.

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Seeking Award Nominations
2014 Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award

Nominations are sought for the 2014 Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award to encourage the mentoring of junior staff in the statistical community in the Federal, State, or Local government. It is awarded annually to a supervisor, technical director, team coordinator, or other member of the Federal, State, or Local government statistical staff who is nominated by a supervisor and co-workers for his or her efforts in supporting the work and developing the careers of junior staff.

The Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award was established to honor Dr. Griffith who died in August 2001 after working for more than 25 years in the Federal statistical system. Throughout her career, and especially in her latter senior management positions at the National Center for Education Statistics and the National Science Foundation, one of Jeanne's highest priorities was to mentor and encourage younger staff at all levels to learn, to grow, and to recognize and seize career opportunities as they came along.

Nominations for 2014 will be accepted beginning in January 2014. Nominations should be prepared in the form of a letter or memorandum for the Award Selection Committee. The letter or memorandum should summarize the nominee's actions that support and encourage junior staff in the Federal, State, or Local statistical community in developing their careers. Nominations may be accompanied by up to six supporting letters.

The last date for submission of nominations is April 4, 2014, and the Award Committee will make its determination of the award winner by April 30, 2014. The award will consist of a $1,000, a citation, and a plaque, which will be presented at a ceremony arranged by the co-sponsors in June 2014.

For more information about the nominating process for the 2013 award, please go to: http://www.amstat.org/sections/sgovt/JEGform14.doc or http://www.amstat.org/sections/sgovt/JEGform14.pdf.

If you have questions about the award, please contact Rick Peterson at rick@amstat.org (703) 684-1221, and Deborah Griffin at Deborah.h.griffin@census.gov (301) 763-2855.

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
Washington Statistical Society's Spotlight on Members Program

The WSS Board of Directors has established a program to highlight members who have made or are making notable contributions to the work of their organization or their professional field of expertise. We know that WSS members are doing interesting work in the fields of statistics, survey methodology, and the social sciences. Through this program, we hope to spotlight the accomplishments of our fellow WSS members.

This is our first request for nominations, to be featured in an upcoming issue of WSS News. We are interested in featuring members at all levels of the employment spectrum including recent graduates, mid-career employees, and those seasoned veterans.

Please feel free to nominate more than one person or a team working together. You may also nominate yourself as well. The nominees must be members of the WSS and not currently affiliated with the Board.

Please provide us with the following information about your nominee or nominees.

  1. Your name, email address, and telephone number
  2. Name or names of nominee(s)
  3. Organizational affiliation
  4. Job title
  5. Their contact information including email address and telephone number
  6. A brief narrative describing the reasons for your nomination
  7. A photo of the nominee, although not required, would be great be greatly appreciated

Please submit your nominations or direct any questions to, John Finamore (jfinamore@nsf.gov), member of the WSS Board.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
Washington Statistical Society - DC/AAPOR Joint Happy Hour at FedCASIC!

Join your colleagues for happy hour during FedCASIC. The Washington Statistical Society and DC-AAPOR invite you to 201 Bar from 4:45 - 6:30 on Wednesday March 18th. The 201 Bar is located at 201 Massachusetts Ave N.E., within walking distance of the FedCASIC conference being held at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Happy hour will be held in the "State Room": http://www.201bar.com/gallery.html). Participants of FedCASIC, students, and members (and non-members) of WSS and DC-AAPOR are all welcome to attend. Stop by to socialize with friends and while you're at it, find out more about the activities and opportunities within WSS and DC-AAPOR!

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Nick Beyler

WSS Member In The Spotlight
Meet WSS Member Kathy Robens

1. Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a Statistician at Mathematica Polcy Research.

2. What attracted you to your current position?
After grad school, I knew that I wanted to work in public policy, specifically on research projects focused on nutrition, physical activity, and obesity. I also knew that I wanted to work in Washington, DC area. Mathematica Policy Research was the perfect fit (and still is)!

3. Finish this sentence: "I joined WSS to..."
...network with other DC statisticians and get involved with more professional activities.

4. What skills are most important for the next generation of statistics professionals?
Statisticians in training would benefit from having stron networking skils and strong oral and written communication skills. In my experience, statistics graduates with strong networking and communication skills tended to get the most (and best) job offers even if they aren't always as strong with statistical theory and methods as their peers. Good communication and building networks within the statistics community can go a long way towards getting job offers and being a successful statistician.

5. What advice would you give to someone entering the statistics profession?
Get active in the statistical community early and often. Go to JSM if you have the opportunity. Become a member of an ASA charter or section and volunteer to serve on their committees. Doing so will help build your resume and your networks.

6. What is your favorite daily ritual?
I like vegging out with my wife and dog after a long day of work.

7. Finish this sentence: "On an ideal Saturday, I would..."
...play 18 holes of golf, watch a great movie, and spend some down time with my family.

8. What is your favorite meal or local restaurant?
I have always been a seafood aficionado which was hard growing up in the Midwest. When I moved to the DC I was in heaven—way too many great seafood restaurants. I highly recommend Johnny's Half Shell on North Capitol right by Union Station. It's a bit pricy but worth it if you're looking for some great seafood at a nice sit down restaurant.

9. What is your favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere tropical during the winter months. I grew up in the Midwest and then moved to Washington and every year around late January or early February I get the urge to migrate south for a couple of days.

10. Have you had any great mentors? If so, what made them great?
My statistics professor from undergrad was a great mentor of moine and was the first person to get me really excited about becoming a professoinal statistician. Before taking her class I wanted to be an economist (I know I know, what was I thinking!). She was always so enthusiastic about statistics and preached about how statisticians were in such high demand and so important for solving the world's problems. I've come to realize that it wasn't just empty rhetoric—statisticians really do add value to problems that exist in all walks of life.

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Student Column

Getting a Federal Job

I've mentioned before that I'm a mid-career student, but I haven't talked much about what my career has been. I've worked in a lot of different roles and for a lot of different companies, but somehow a little more than half of my work life has been spent working for the Federal Government. In my most recent position, I got to hire people. Here are some tips and tricks I learned about getting a Federal Government job.

  1. Update and lengthen your resume: you will probably hear guidance that your resume should only be one or two pages long. This is not true for Federal resumes. I have seen Federal resumes run to 15-20 pages. Because so many people apply for work with the government, often the first person to see your resume will not even be a person: it will be scanned by a computer program for particular key words. If your resume is short, those key words may not appear, and you will not be considered qualified for the job. So describe every position you have had and any tasks that you believe may be even remotely related to the position that interests you.
  2. Gather duration, supervisor and salary information for every position: You will need to put exact start and finish dates of each job you have had, as well as the name of your supervisor, their phone and email, and how much you were paid. Do not skip this; I had a position held up for several months because I didn't bother to put my salary from when I was a Marine.
  3. Create a login at USAJobs: USAJobs (http://www.usajobs.gov) is like Monster.com for the Federal government. Although it is possible to pass your resume to a friend in the government, they're just going to refer you back to USAJobs anyway.
  4. Create a resume on USAJobs: There is an option to upload a Word version of your resume, but don't do that. Go ahead and copy and paste your resume information into the USAJobs form. It will make your life easier, and it is what hirers expect to see. When I had a pile of resumes to look at, the non-standard resumes usually just confused me; use the USAJobs format to avoid that.
  5. Answer USAJobs questions truthfully and ensure your resume matches your answers: When you apply on USAJobs, many positions will include a series of multiple-choice questions about your level of experience. There will be an obvious ranking of best to worst answers, but be careful! They will not always be in order from best to worst. You want to choose the "best" answer if at all possible, but your answer must be true, and your resume must reflect the same information as your answer. If it doesn't, you'll probably just be disqualified.
  6. Pay attention to citizenship requirements: Not every Federal government job requires citizenship. My wife worked for the State Department without being a citizen.
  7. Look out for "Inner Hire Only" listings: Many agencies only hire from within for certain positions.
  8. Look out for temporary positions: Positions can be advertised as Permanent Full-Time (PFT) positions or as temporary contract positions. Temporary contract positions can be just fine, but they generally do not allow you to later apply for Merit Promotion positions. This becomes a real problem for many temporary contract employees.
  9. Apply for every hiring authority you can: A Hiring Authority determines how a person can be hired. Many times the same position will be advertised twice; once for "All Citizens" and once for "Merit Promotion" (that is, for existing permanent government employees). Some non-permanent government people can apply for both; for example, Veterans and Peace Corps/Vista Volunteers get preferential consideration in hiring. If you can apply on both advertisements, do so. It really increases your chances of getting an interview.
  10. If you've never had a job, be creative: If you are applying for an entry-level position, you are competing with other students. While good grades are good, other activities will make you stand out from your peers. Many activities you may consider as trivial (tutoring, graduate assistantships, volunteering, student government) can make the difference. Make sure that you explain what activities you actually did; these can help support USAJobs answers as well as giving your interviewer a way of gauging your abilities.
  11. Some pointers on degrees and experience: Positions have a set "rank" that determines salary and promotion potential. They will show this as the GS rating; for example, a position may be advertise as a fixed position (GS-9) or as having promotion potential (GS-9/11/13). For pay purposes, you want to get hired as high up as possible; life is easier if you get hired at a higher position than it is to work your way up through ranks. Every agency is different, and every applicant is different. At my agency, the rule of thumb for a BS with no experience is GS-7, for an MS with no experience is GS-9. Experience changes the requirements; I got hired with just a BS at a much higher rank because I had a lot of experience in industry.

The process for getting hired by the government can be confusing and can take longer than in the real world. But it is a very rewarding career; you can honestly feel that you are doing a service to many people. If you decide to stick with it, government benefits are generally better than in the real world. And in DC, government is pretty much the biggest game in town. Good luck!

– Tim Allen, WSS Student Representative (timothychenallen@gmail.com)

Note: Please see page 21 of this month's newsletter for the Probs & Stats Brain Teaser crossword puzzle.

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Note From The WSS NEWS Editor

Items for publication in the March, 2014 issue of the WSS NEWS will be accepted until the 15th day of the preceding month.

Email items to wss.editor@gmail.com.

Please submit all materials in MS WORD or plain text.

Please do not submit your items in pdf or include them in the body of an email.

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Click here to see the WSS Board Listing (pdf)
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