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January 2011


In The Spotlight
Obama Administration Science Integrity Memo includes Good News for ASA Governance and Government Statisticians: More Steps Necessary

By Steve Pierson

Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director John Holdren issued a scientific integrity memo to the heads of administration departments and agencies on December 17. While the scientific community and others will welcome many parts of the memorandum, the following excerpt on promoting professional development of government scientists is especially welcome to ASA because of the integral role government scientists play in ASA governance:

"Allow full participation in professional or scholarly societies, committees, task forces and other specialized bodies of professional societies, including removing barriers for serving as officers or on governing boards of such societies."

With ASA's practice of having a president and vice-president from the government sector every three years (with presidents and vice-presidents from academia and industry completing the cycle), the ASA Nominating Committee has reported difficulty in securing candidates from the government sector. Such restrictions can also apply to service in ASA sections, chapters and committees. The reasons vary from such service not being allowed to requiring the person to use personal leave time for the professional society service. The widely varying policies across agencies are partially influenced by differing interpretations of a criminal statute (18 U.S.C. §208) regarding business with private organizations where financial conflicts of interest might arise.

From ASA's point of view, the restrictions are a hindrance because it is important for the professional needs of federal scientists be directly represented in ASA governance and because ASA would benefit from the perspective of federal scientists.

Joining with AAAS, the Ornithological Council, the Wildlife Society and the Society for Conservation Biology, ASA had meetings at OSTP, the Office of Government Ethics and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) requesting a government-wide set of standards to guide federal employee participation on the boards of scientific professional societies and a legislative or regulatory measure to 18 allowing service on the scientific professional society boards.

To make our case, the groups cited the potential to raise the profile of a federal scientist's department/agency as place for high-quality, cutting-edge research, thereby helping to recruit scientists to federal service. We also noted the converse, that current restrictions could dissuade the best scientists from entering federal service because of the role professional society governance can play in helping one advance professional stature. We also pointed out OPM's Research Grade Evaluation Guide listing "invitations to address or to assume a leadership role in national professional organizations and associated committees" as a highest level factor for its evaluation system grading criteria.

Recognizing the important ethical issues, the groups also cited the current practice of government scientists to excuse themselves from any professional society discussion where a possible conflict of interest could apply.

Holdren's memo, which was a follow up to Obama's Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity from March 9, 2009, is but a first step. A regulatory or legislative fix to U.S.C S208, on which we understand the Office of Personnel Management and Office of Government Ethics are working, is still an objective. Government agencies must also review and change their respective policies regarding government scientists serving in scientific professional society leadership.

I invite ASA Members to join the Science Policy Group in the ASA Community. I will send members of this group updates on ASA science policy actions, notifications of new blogs, and ask for input on ASA science policy activities.


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Seeking Award Nominations
2011 Gertrude M. Cox Award

The Gertrude M. Cox Award Committee is seeking nominees for the 2011 Gertrude M Cox Award. The 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 awardis in memory of Gertrude M. Cox (1900-1978). In 1945, Dr. Cox became director of the Institute of Statistics of the Consolidated University of North Carolina. In the 1950Õs, 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 the keynote address on a topic of general interest to the WSS membership.

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 yearÕs committee consists of Jonaki Bose, Michael Brick, and John Eltinge from WSS; Marcus Berzofsky, Phil Kott, and Karol Krotki (Chair) from RTI. The award consists of a $1,000 honorarium, travel expenses to attend the WSS Annual Dinner, and a commemorative WSS plaque. Past recipients have been Sharon Lohr, Alan Zaslavsky, Tom Belin, Vance Berger, Francesca Domenici, Thomas Lumley, Jean Opsomer, and Michael Elliott.

Please email your nominations to Karol Krotki (kkrotki@rti.org) by 28 February, 2011. A bio or cv is sufficent — there is no formal application form.

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Seeking Award Nominations
2011 Julius Shiskin Award

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 are recognized for statistical research, development of statistical tools, application of information technology techniques, use of economic statistical programs, management of statistical programs, or developing public understanding of measurement issues. 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 2010 award recipient was Dr. Dale W. Jorgenson for for his contributions to the measurement of productivity, innovation, capital, human capital, poverty, and for his leadership in the integration of the U.S. National Accounts.

Because the program was initiated many years ago, statisticians and economists often ask, "Who was Julius Shiskin?" 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 2011 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, 2011.

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Seeking Award Nominations
Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award

It's time to start thinking about nominating an outstanding supervisor, technical director, team coordinator, or other member of a governmental statistical staff who encourages mentoring of junior staff in the Federal, State, or Local statistical system for the 2011 Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award. Nominations must be submitted no later than March 25, 2011.

Nominations for 2011 will be accepted beginning in January 2011. The last date for submission of nominations is March 25, 2011, and the Award Committee will make its determination of the award winner by April 22, 2011. The award will consist of a $1,000 honorarium (to be split if there is more than one awardee), a citation, and a plaque, which will be presented at a ceremony arranged by the co-sponsors in June 2011.

For more information about the nominating process for the 2011 award, please go to: http://www.amstat.org/sections/sgovt/JEGform11.doc or http://www.amstat.org/sections/sgovt/JEGform11.pdf.

If you have questions about the award, please contact Rick Peterson at rick@amstat.org (703) 684-1221, and Carol House at housca@gmail.com 703-989-1334.

The nomination package may be mailed or emailed no later than March 25, 2011, to:

The Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award Committee
c/o The American Statistical Association
732 N. Washington Street
alexandria, va 22314-1943

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Seeking Award Nominations
Herriot Award

Nominations are sought for the 2011 Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics. The award is intended to reflect the special characteristics that marked Roger Herriot's career:

  • 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 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.

The recipient of the 2011 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 2011. The Washington Statistical Society will also host a seminar given by the winner on a subject of his or her own choosing.

The previous recipients of the Roger Herriot Award are Joseph Waksberg (Westat), Monroe Sirken (NCHS), Constance Citro (CNStat), Roderick Harrison (Census Bureau), Clyde Tucker (BLS), Thomas Jabine (SSA, EIA, CNStat), Donald Dillman (Washington State University), Jeanne Griffith (OMB, NCES, NSF), Daniel Weinberg (Census Bureau), David Banks (FDA, BTS, NIST), Paula Schneider (Census Bureau), Robert E. Fay III (Census Bureau), Nathaniel Schenker (NCHS), Nancy Kirkendall (EIA), Elizabeth Martin (Census Bureau), Lynda Carlson (NSF), and Katharine G. Abraham (JPSM, University of Maryland).

Nominations for the 2011 award will be accepted beginning in February 2011. Nomination packages should contain:

  1. A cover letter from the nominator that should include 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.

  2. Up to six additional letters in support that demonstrate the innovativeness of each contribution.

  3. A current vita for the nominee, including contact information.

Both individual and group nominations may be submitted. The committee may consider nominations made for prior years, but it encourages resubmission of those nominations with updated information.

For more information, contact Robert Fay, Chair, 2011 Roger Herriot Award Committee, at 240-314-2318 or BobFay@Westat.com. Completed packages must be received by April 1, 2011. Electronic submissions in MS-Word or as a "pdf" file are strongly encouraged. Please contact the chair if you need to make arrangements to fax or mail a nomination.

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Lectures and Seminars
Experiment with new venue for WSS seminars

By Dave Judkins, WSS Methodology Section Chair

In an effort to improve access to WSS seminars and to improve the reliability of virtual attendance, we are going to experiment with a new venue. Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. has graciously granted WSS the use of its main conference room in downtown Washington, DC, for one or two seminars per month, and the broadcast of the seminars as Webinars. This does not mean that we will be ending the use of the BLS conference center and its video- conferencing (VC) facilities. At this point, it is just an experiment, and the future use of the venue will depend on the quality of the experience.

The BLS setting is superior for those with the technology to establish a VC link, but only Westat and NCHS have been making use of that technology, and sometimes technical glitches with the VC link have led to delays of as much as 20 to 30 minutes in the start of the seminar. I hope that the webinar format will be more stable and more widely accessible. The MPR offices are even closer to a metro stop than the BLS offices, so for people able to attend in person, there should be little change in convenience. In fact, it may be more convenient in as much as visitors will not be required to go through a metal-detection screening station, and they wonÕt have to go cross a street between metro exit and MPR entrance.

On February 15th, we will have the inaugural use of these facilities. A trio of Westat researchers will present a very topical evaluation of methods for address- based sampling as a possible replacement for RDD sampling for targeted domains. The time will be the same as usual, 12:30 to 2:00. Visitors interested in attending in person or remotely will be asked to register in advance, although spontaneous visitors will also be accommodated in person. Those wishing to attend virtually will receive instructions by email after registering. There will be no cost for either remote or in-person attendees.

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Classes and Workshops
Webinar: Introduction to Sampling for Non-Statisticians

The next webinar in the web-based training program of the Survey Research Methods Section of American Statistical Association and AAPOR will be given by Safaa Amer, Senior Statistician at NORC, on the topic "Introduction to Sampling for Non-Statisticians". The webinar will occur on Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 1-3pm Eastern. Full abstract, presenter information, and registration can be found at http://www.amstat.org/sections/SRMS/webinar.cfm. For each webinar, participants register for a modest fee. Each registration is allowed one web connection and one audio connection. The section encourages multiple persons to view each registered connection. For example, an entire classroom can watch for the price of one registration. Registration is now open.

Many researchers, journalists, policy makers, and educators encounter sample surveys in their research, work, reading, or everyday experience. This course will uncover the logic behind sampling. It will give an explanation of the different types of samples and the terminology used by statistician and survey researchers. It will outline and illustrate the steps needed before, during, and after selecting a sample. It will describe the types of errors faced when conducting a survey and whether they are sampling related or not. The goal of the course is to expose non-statisticians to sampling so that they are able to read and understand articles or documents describing sampling designs and communicate with statisticians about their research needs. The course may even motivate participants to design and select simple samples to illustrate concepts and procedures. The presenter Dr. Safaa Amer is a multi-lingual Senior Statistician and Project Director at NORC with wide-ranging experience in data analysis, survey sampling, missing data, and data mining. In addition, Dr. Amer held several academic positions with the most recent being on the faculty list for the Survey Design & Data Analysis Graduate Certificate program at George Washington University.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rick Peterson at the American Statistical Association. Rick is their Education Programs Associate: rick@amstat.org; (703) 684-1221 ext. 1864.

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Seeking Volunteers

Volunteers are needed at different times between March and June 2011 — to judge entries in the Curtis Jacobs Memorial Prize for Outstanding Statistics Project; to judge entries in the WSS Statistical Poster Competition; and to judge science fair projects at the regional science fairs in Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland and the District of Columbia. The WSS needs you to volunteer now for any one — or all three!

The WSS has a longstanding and active program of reaching out to elementary and secondary school students to encourage them to gain an understanding and appreciation of Statistics. We do this in part by sponsoring two annual competitions — the Curtis Jacobs Memorial Prize and the WSS Statistical Poster Competition — and by awarding prizes at the annual regional high school science fairs.

Since 1986, WSS has provided special awards at the five regional science fairs to students whose projects demonstrate excellence in data analysis or the application of statistical methods. The fairs are held on Saturdays in March. They need volunteers willing to devote one Saturday morning to interact with students, judge their projects, and give them some guidance and encouragement. Those who have participated in these activities have very much enjoyed meeting the students, talking with them, and seeing the widely diverse projects they have presented. Last year 30 of your fellow WSS members judged and awarded prizes to projects in Mathematical Sciences, Behavioral & Social Science, Environmental Management, Animal Sciences, Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering, Earth and Planetary Science, Microbiology, Physics, and Astronomy. If you are interested in being a science fair judge, contact Bob Clickner at Robertclickner@westat.com, or 301-294-2815.

The Curtis Jacobs Award program focuses on gathering information and analyzing for making decisions. Entries are typically due in May; judges review and score the entries at their convenience and transmit their evaluations and scores by late May. If you are interested in volunteering to judge the entries, contact Tom Krenzke at TomKrenzke@westat.com or 301-251-4203.

The poster competition is open to students in grades K-12 and entries may be in any area of statistics. Judging is typically in May or June. If you are interested in judging, contact Amelia Vogel at Vogel.Amelia@bls.gov or 202-691-6138.

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SIGSTAT Topics for Fall/Winter 2010-2011

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, 1800 M St, NW from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Enter the South Tower & take the elevator to the 3rd floor to check in at the guard's desk.

Point of Contact:
First-time attendees should contact Charlie Hallahan, 202-694-5051, hallahan@ers.usda.gov, and leave their name. Directions to the building & many links of statistical interest can be found at the SIGSTAT website.

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Note From The WSS NEWS Editor

Items for publication in the February 2011 issue of the WSS NEWS will be accepted until the last day of the preceding month. Email items to Colleen S. Choi at wss.editor@gmail.com.

Please submit all materials in MS WORD or plain text.

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Click here to see the WSS Board Listing (pdf)
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