Washington Statistical Society
        Washington Statistical Society on Meetup   Washington Statistical Society on LinkedIn

September 2003



The balloting results are in and the following people were elected to the Board of Directors of the Washington Statistical Society:

John Czajka

Courtney Reiser

Methodology Program Chair
Wendy Rotz

Representatives at Large
Tom Mule
Jennifer Guarino

A round of applause goes to the following individuals who were recently elected Fellows of the American Statistical Society (ASA). This honor goes to:

Lee R. Abramson, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Mary K. Batcher, Ernst & Young LLP
John L. Czajka, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
James Filliben, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Carol C. House, National Agricultural Statistics Service
Marilyn M. Seastrom, National Center for Education Statistics
Nancy L. Spruill, Office of the Secretary of Defense
Alan R. Tupek, U.S. Census Bureau
Return to top

Letter from the President

I am honored to serve as WSS President for the next year. I believe that the WSS is the pre-eminent local statistical organization in the world. We do a wonderful job of supporting both our profession and our professionals. Our multiple sessions per month are an excellent opportunity to learn better methods and to meet other statisticians. This could not be accomplished without the incredible amount of volunteer hours put in by the Board and other members. Video-conferencing our talks has increased the number of people who participate, but unfortunately has reduced the number who are actually present at the talks. I would urge everyone to try and attend a few of them in person each year, to meet others and to support the presenters.

My hope this year is to "Expand our Influence." Statisticians in the Washington area do a wonderful job of talking to each other. Unfortunately, we often get frustrated when we see decisions being made that do not make proper use of statistics. Obviously some of this is a result of political trade-offs, but often it is a case of their not being a statistician at the table when decisions are made. I hope we will have a few opportunities this year to expand our influence to reach those who do make the decisions. Here are two examples to look forward to this fall:

In October we will have a session on "How Statisticians have helped Achieve the Dream." This will celebrate 40 years since Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speach, and will focus on how statistics have helped to change this country.

In December we will have our 6th QA in Government Symposium. The keynote speaker will explain how European statistical organizations have gotten senior executives to use statistics to improve quality. We will also have a talk about how the private sector has integrated statistical methods for quality into their decisions. A panel of Directors of US statistical organizations will then discuss why these methods are important.

I hope to see you at one or both of these sessions this fall. If you have additional ideas on how we can "Expand our Influence" please let me know.

David Marker

Return to top

Letter from the Past President

I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve as President of the Washington Statistical Society (WSS) during the busy and productive year 2002-2203. At the open meeting of the WSS Board on June 24, I passed the gavel to David Marker who served as president-elect this past year.

In his letter to you last year, Andy White, now the Outgoing Past President, took note of the many lives lost due to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Andy predicted that, "One of the most important ways the nation can prevent future attacks of this magnitude is by developing and using more accurate information. I believe that statisticians will ultimately play an important role in these activities."

WSS member, David Banks, stepped up to the plate on this need by organizing a November 2002 Workshop on Statistical Issues for Counterterrorism in Federal Agencies so that federal statisticians could discuss ways in which statistical efforts across different agencies could support the war on terrorism. The high degree of interest generated there led to his decision to organize a May 2003 conference on Statistical Issues in Counterterrorism, with the able assistance of John Dixon, Nancy Spruill, Pat Doyle, and Doug Samuelson.

Election Results

Before going on to discuss the other exciting events of this year, I should discuss election results. Our election was not as chaotic as last year but we still experienced glitches that had to be resolved. Congratulations to these new officers of the WSS for 2003-2004:

President-Elect: John Czajka, Mathematica Policy Research Secretary: Courtney Reiser, Bureau of the Census Methodology Chair: Wendy Rotz, Ernst & Young Representatives-at-large: Tom Mule, Bureau of the Census and Jennifer Guarino, RTI International.

Volunteer Activity

Currently WSS has 882 ASA members and 49 non-ASA for a total of 931 members a slight decline from last year. Our Membership Committee, under the leadership of chair Renee Miller, is implementing approaches to recruit new members, but all WSS members should encourage friends and co-workers to join the WSS. Membership dues are modest.

Our program chairs organized 31 seminars this past year. We also advertised and cosponsored countless other local events of interest. I would like to recognize our program chairs and the outstanding work they have performed:

Agriculture and Natural Resources: Dan Beckler and Mel Kollander Data Collection Methods: Jonaki Bose and Sameena Salvucci Economics: Linda Atkinson and Authur Kennickell Methodology: Mary Batcher and Pat Cantwell Social & Demographic Statistics: Manuel de la Puerte and Judy Droitcour Statistical Computing: Robert Sands, Charlie Hallahan, and Dean Judson Quality Assurance & Physical Sciences: Amrut Champaneri and Eugene Burns

I also want to thank the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for hosting the meetings. John Dixon and Stuart Scott have served as our liaison to BLS in these security conscious days. John Dixon has also been handling the video conferencing. We had 21 seminars that were video-conferenced this year.

Three short courses were organized this year under the leadership of Robin Lee who is stepping down after having ably served in this role for four WSS Presidents.

This year we were approached by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to be a cosponsor of their biannual Symposium on Statistical Methods. The first symposium we cosponsored was held in January 2003 in Atlanta. The next will be held in Washington, DC in 2005. Many thanks to David Marker for setting up this arrangement. David is also working with Glenn White in setting up a two-day Quality Assurance Conference in December.

This year the Hansen Lecture Series had its first panel discussion. The panelists were Eleanor Singer, Norman Bradburn, and Katherine Wallman. Thanks to Westat for funding that makes this lecture series possible and to committee members Nancy Kirkendall, Ginny de Wolf, Nat Schenker, Bob Groves, and Joe Waksberg.

Michael P. Cohen and Vince Massimini have coordinated our relationship with the Washington Academy of Sciences. Next year we will be participating in the annual meeting of the Academy.

We continue to have an active Quantitative Literacy Program, thanks to the many WSS volunteers who support this important service to our community. Wendy Rotz and Reza Modarres coordinated WSS effort to institute a new award for the best student presentation at Probability and Statistics Day. Carolyn Carol organized our second annual career day. Amy Luo and Sung Hee Lee increased interest in the Curtis Jacobs competition this year. For the second year, WSS awarded a local award in the Poster Competition, now expanded to K-12, under the leadership of Archana Joshee and Ryan Petska. We had three winning posters in the 10-12 grades and one in the 4-6 grades for this year's local Statistical Poster Competition.

For Grades 10-12:

First Place: "Do Women Smoke More Than Men?" By:Allison Kendrick, Katie Riley, Matt Hulse, and Mike Cordingley; Oakton High School, Vienna, VA

Second Place: "Is the Presidential Election More Attractive than the Mid-term Election?" By: Jiahui Li, Oakton High School, Vienna, VA

Third Place: "Is there a Relationship Between Energy Orientation and House Pet Preference Among High School Seniors" By: Lien Kratzke, Oakton High School, Vienna, VA

For Grades 4-6:

First Place: "Has the Bluebird Population at Bear Branch Nature Center Increased?" By: Nick Bitzel, Alex Bitzel, and George Robertson, E.O.O. Homeschool Group, Hampstead, MD

Judges were supplied for local science fairs again this year. Thanks to Lee Abramson.

We continue to have an outstanding team making electronic services possible. Our monthly calendar, email announcements, and website continue to be immensely helpful in operating the society. Thanks to Michael Greene, Dan Jacobs, and Vince Massimini.

Michael Feil has continued his exceptional work as newsletter editor. Anne Peterson coordinated employment ads for the newsletter.

WSS has many interactions with the national office, typically through Nancy Hiett, ASA's Chapter liaison. Glenn White and Carolee Bush, as Council Representative and as Vice Chair for our district, have done outstanding work in keeping communication flowing between ASA and WSS to meet ASA information needs and WSS service requests.

This year's officers have been willing and active volunteers. Past President Andy White, President-Elect David Marker, Secretary Tom Mule, Treasurer Erin Whitworth Dyal, and Representatives-at-Large Daniel Cork, Renee Miller, Jeri Mulrow, and Jill Montaquila have all contributed to enabling WSS to provide the diverse services our members desire. Jeri Mulrow, as Social Arrangements Chair, has coordinated three outstanding social events including the holiday mixer, the annual dinner, and the presidential invited seminar.

WSS could not function without these dedicated volunteers! WSS always needs more individuals to help. Consider volunteering your services to give a talk, present a short course, serve on a committee, judge a QL and Science Fair event, or other service activity.


At the Annual Dinner the following individuals were honored with a President's Award for service to the WSS:

David Banks--For outstanding work for the ASA Fellows Committee and for leadership of the Workshop on Statistics in Counterterrorism and the Conference on Federal Statistical Issues in Counterterrorism

John Dixon--For outstanding work for the Membership Committee, for the Videoconferencing of WSS Presentations, and for implementation of the Conference on Statistical Issues in Counterterrorism Renee Miller--For outstanding work for the Membership Committee and as Representative at Large

Lee Abramson--For sustained service as Science Fair Coordinator

Wendy Rotz--For sustained service as Quantitative Literacy Chair

David Marker--For coordinating WSS Co-Sponsorship of the CDC Symposium on Statistical Methods

The Past President's Certificate was awarded to Andy White for his service over the past three years to WSS. I have found his guidance invaluable.

Other awards given at the Annual Meetings are as follows.

Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award. Rich Allen of the National Agricultural Statistics Service is this year's recipient of the Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award for his "gentle" guidance of the careers of junior staff.

Julius Shiskin Award. WSS co-sponsors this award with ASA's Business and Economics Section and the National Association of Business Economists. Rich Allen and Catherine Hood are the WSS representatives on this committee. Carol Corrado and Susan Offutt were winners this year.

Roger Herriott Award for Innovations in Statistics. WSS, together with the Social Statistics and the Government Statistics Sections of the ASA, presented the award to Daniel Weinberg at the 2002 Joint Statistical Meetings in Mew York City.

Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship Award. WSS, together with the Section on Government Statistics and other sponsors, announced that Yun Li of Bowling Green State University is the 2003 recipient of the Wray Smith Scholarship Award, which is awarded annually to an outstanding applicant to further his or her career in government statistics.

The Curtis Jacobs Memorial Committee announced that Ina Hwang of Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland was the 2003 winner for her paper on "Economic Circumstance and Choice of Colleges."

The WSS Fellows Committee, composed of David Banks, Phil Kott, Michael L. Cohen, and Fritz Scheuren, reported that eight WSS members were elected as new ASA Fellows:

Al Tupek
Lee Abramson
James Filliben
Nancy Spruill
Carol House
Marilyn McMillen Seastrom
John Czajka
Mary Batcher

The following graduate students were awarded >WSS Outstanding Graduate Student Awards:

Weiping Deng, George Washington University
Nataliya Kravets, Catholic University
Sung Hee Lee, JPSM
Neil Perkins, American University
Haixia Xu, George Mason University

Finally, the Gertrude M. Cox Statistics Award was instituted this year. The annual award will recognize a statistician making significant contribution to statistical practice. Awardees will be given a $1,000 honorarium and will be an invited speaker at the annual dinner. RTI International is providing funding for this award. The Cox Award Committee will determine the recipients, with Kerrie Boyle, Dick Kulka, Paul Biemer, David Marker, Andy White, and Brenda Cox as members this year. This year's winner of the Gertrude M. Cox Statistics Award is Sharon Lohr, Professor of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Arizona State University. Her current research areas include sample surveys, design of experiments, robust estimation, and applications of statistics to law. Her book "Sampling: Design and Analysis" (translated into Spanish) is used in statistics classes throughout North and Central America, and she has given several workshops on modern survey sampling theory and practice. She was elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2000, "for development of methodology, innovative teaching methods and materials for survey sampling, and for statistical consulting and applications in criminology and law." She is currently chair-elect of the Survey Research Methods Section of the American Statistical Association and a member of the Census Advisory Committee of Professional Associations.

Sampling Frontiers - Sharon Lohr's presentation at the Annual Dinner of the Washington Statistical Society on June 10, 2003 (pdf).

Many thanks to WSS members for the opportunity to serve as President of the Washington Statistical Society.

Brenda G. Cox, Past President

Return to top

Washington Statistical Society
Curtis Jacobs Memorial Prize for Outstanding Survey Statistics Project, 2003

On Tuesday, June 3, the Washington Statistical Society (WSS) held the judging of its annual Curtis Jacobs Memorial Prize for Washington, D.C. area high school and middle school participants. The total entries from this year are increased dramatically from the last year. The prize includes a $200 saving bond to the winning team, a plaque to the advisor teacher, and a one-year free American Statistical Association membership to the school. The winner and the teacher are also invited to the WSS annual dinner.

The winner from high school is:
Project Title: Economic Circumstance and Choice of Colleges
By: Ina Hwang
Statistics teacher: Ricki Cohn
School: Walter Johnson High School, Bethesda, Maryland

The winner team from middle school is vacant this year.

The Curtis Jacob Award committee would like to thank the following people who volunteered to judge the entries. Their help are greatly appreciated! They are:

Wendy Rotz, QUEST, Ernst & Young LLP
Sunghee Lee, JPSM, University of Maryland
Amy Luo, Quest, Ernst & Young LLP
William Wong, IRS

Return to top

Latest Metropolitan-Micropolitan Areas Definitions from OMB

OMB Designates 49 New Metropolitan Statistical Areas:

On June 9, 2003, the Office of Management and Budget released the list of revised definitions of Metropolitan Areas, and new definitions of Micropolitan and Combined Statistical Areas. The list of areas can be obtained by going to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/ Go to "Bulletins" (on the left hand side of the page under "Information for Agencies") and then at the bottom of the announcement, Bulletin 03-04, there is the link to the PDF Attachment.

A full text of the short press release (2003-18) can be found on the OMB web site at:


COPAFS will host a one day seminar on November 4, 2003, to assess the impact of the new areas on the public and private sectors.

Return to top

Paul Biemer to Present Morris Hansen Lecture On Oct. 14

Paul Biemer, an RTI Distinguished Fellow, will present the 2003 Morris Hansen Lecture at a special gathering of the Washington Statistical Society (WSS) on Oct. 14 in Washington, D.C. Additionally, his presentation and the comments of the discussants will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Official Statistics.

Through a series of presentations by experts in the field of survey methodology, the annual Morris Hansen Lectures honor the contributions of Morris Hansen, whose work established many of the standards and methods used in survey sampling today. The WSS is composed of nearly 1,000 members, making it the largest chapter of the American Statistical Association (ASA).

The topic of Dr. Biemer's presentation, which will be given in the Jefferson Auditorium at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be new methods for estimating and analyzing measurement error in surveys.

Dr. Biemer has more than 24 years of postdoctoral experience in survey methods and statistics. In addition to being an RTI Distinguished Fellow, he holds a joint appointment as Associate Director for Survey Research at the Howard D. Odum Institute for Research in Social Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Biemer's accomplishments include leading the development of a methodology for computer audio recorded interviewing (CARI), which is being tested for use by the Census Bureau for its demographic surveys. In addition, based on his work with nonsampling errors, in 2001, he was called to serve as an expert witness on statistical methodology by the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce as part of the investigation of the Voter News Service following the 2000 presidential election miscalls in Florida. He is currently involved in the development of methods for evaluating the quality of survey data using latent class analysis.

Return to top

The Role of Statistics in Achieving the Dream

On October 16, 2003, there will be a 40th anniversary Washington Statistical Society (WSS) session honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., entitled "The Role of Statistics in Achieving the Dream."

A panel format will be used with speakers who are statisticians and demographers, mixed together with civil rights activists. Some of you who read this were on the Mall on August 28, 1963. Please come and share. And if you were not there, come and feel the sense of excitement and hope that existed then. Learn how statistics has played a role at nearly every juncture in leading to progress.

But there is still a long road ahead and much more for statisticians to do in achieving true equality of opportunity. It is safe to say that few of those attending the March on Washington that day would have predicted what happened in the 40 years since. Progress has been slower than hoped but the dream has also been broadened with many legislative, social, and economic accomplishments.

The October 16 session will begin at 12:30 pm and run until about 2:30 pm. The location is the BLS Conference Center, 2 Postal Square Building, across from Union Station. To gain admittance you must call at least two days ahead to Kevin Cecco at 202-874-0464. Because this is a special occasion there will be light refreshments offered.

Return to top

Has Statistics A Future? If So, In What Form?


Emeritus Eberly Professor of Statistics Director, Center for Multivariate Analysis Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 16802 E-mail: crr1@psu.edu September 18, 2003 (3:30-5PM) - 1524 Van Munching Hall, the Howard Frank Auditorium

A reception will be held afterwards from 4:40 - 6:00 PM. Food and drinks will be served.

The mathematical foundations of statistics as a separate discipline were laid by Fisher, Neyman and Wald during the second quarter of the last century. Subsequent research in statistics and the courses taught in the universities are mostly based on the guidelines set by these pioneers. Statistics is used in some form or other in all areas of human endeavor from scientific research to optimum use of resources for social welfare, prediction and decision-making. However, there are controversies in statistics, especially in the choice of a model for data, use of prior probabilities, especially quantifying uncertainty in decision making and subject-matter judgments by experts. The same data analyzed by different consulting statisticians usually lead to different conclusions. What is the future of statistics in the present millennium dominated by information technology encompassing the whole of communications, interaction with intelligent systems, massive data bases, and complex information processing networks? The current statistical methodology based on simple probabilistic models developed for the analysis of small data sets appears to be inadequate to meet the needs of customers for quick on line processing of data and making the information available for practical use. Some methods are being put forward in the name of data mining for such purposes. A broad review of the current state of the art in statistics, its merits and demerits, and possible future developments will be presented.

Return to top

FCSM 2003 Conference

The Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology's (FCSM) 2003 Research Conference will be held November 17-19 at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel, Arlington, Virginia. The conference will feature a plenary address by Colm O'Muircheartaigh and focus on a wide range of current research and methodological topics relevant to federal government statistical programs. For a copy of the advance program and more information about the conference, please refer to http://www.fcsm.gov/events/#upcoming.

Return to top

SIGSTAT Topics for Fall 2003

October 15, 2003: PROC MIXED - Part 1: Introduction to Longitudinal Data Analysis (www.sas.com)

This session will be the first of several sessions showing how PROC MIXED in SAS/STAT can be used to estimate longitudinal data models. Longitudinal data consists of observations measured not only over individual subjects, but there are repeated observations per subject, usually over time, but also allowing for repeated observations over space. The material covered will be extracted from a 3-day course on the topic taught by SAS Institute. This first session on this topic features exploratory data analysis applied to a data set with unequally-spaced observations per subject. This example will be used throughout the other sessions on the topic.

November 12, 2003: Code Portability: SAS Data step in DBMS/Copy - using it as a SAS Work-Alike

Many SAS users own Conceptual Software's DBMS/COPY , a widely used utility for transferring data between software packages. Conceptual's software product lines have been acquired by DataFlux [a subsidy of SAS Institute].in October of 2002. DBMS/Copy includes database manipulation and programming system, loosely referred to as DBMS/Analyst or Program. The module Program provides functionality resembling that of base SAS software DATA step. Equivalents of summarization and other procedures MEANS / SUMMARY, TABULATE and SORT are also explained. This talk is a "Primer" on running SAS DATA step code with minimal change in the DBMS environment. Users do not have to translate their SAS code to some database {e.g. Access}, or, to a 3G language like Fortran or C, when / where SAS is not available, just port it to DBMS/Copy.

Yesvy Gustasp gives the presentation.

December 10: PROC MIXED - Part 2: The General Linear Mixed Model & Evaluating Covariance Structures ((www.sas.com)

Continuing the topic from October, we'll discuss the general linear mixed model and how it is specified in PROC MIXED. In particular, the options specifying the covariance structures appropriate for longitudinal models will be covered. The sample variogram is defined and used as a diagnostic tool for selecting a covariance structure. Finally, goodness-of-fit statistics for the selected covariance structure will be calculated and plotted.

SIGSTAT is the Special Interest Group in Statistics for the CPCUG, the Capital PC User Group, and WINFORMS, the Washington Institute for Operations Research Service and Management Science.

All meetings are in Room S3031 (Food Safety and Nutrition Room), 1800 M St, NW from 12:30 to 1:30. Enter the South Tower and take the elevator to the 3rd floor to check in at the guard's desk.

First-time attendees should contact Charlie Hallahan, 202-694-5051, hallahan@ers.usda.gov and leave their name. Directions to the building and many links of statistical interest can be found at the SIGSTAT website, www.cpcug.org/user/sigstat/

Return to top

Note From The WSS NEWS Editor

Items for publication in the November 2003 WSS NEWS should be submitted no later than September 30, 2003. E-mail items to Michael Feil at michael.feil@usda.gov.

Return to top

Click here to see the WSS Board Listing (pdf)
Return to top