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March 2014


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!
Volunteers Needed for the ASA Booth at the
USA Science and Engineering Festival

Volunteers are needed to assist with the staffing of the American Statistical Association booth at the 3rd USA Science and Engineering Festival on Friday, April 25 (from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27 (from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day) at the Washington Convention Center. The basic duties are to help with several hands-on activities that emphasize important statistical ideas in an informal setting and to answer questions from the public. An ASA staff member will also be at the booth most of the time. However, having 2 to 3 additional volunteers there will help immensely since the organizers estimate that around 10,000 people will visit each booth over the three days. Plus, it's fun!!!!

If you can volunteer for two or more hours on any of these days, please contact Carol Joyce Blumberg by April 16 at cblumberg@gmail.com. Please specify which hours you can volunteer.

The festival itself will have more than 3,000 exhibits, stage shows, a book fair with author presentations, a career pavilion and much more. Friday is a sneak peek day (attendance by invitation only). Saturday and Sunday are open to the public and the entire festival is free of charge. Even if you cannot volunteer, bring your family and friends and give your future and current scientists the experience of a lifetime. For more information, the festival website is at http://www.usasciencefestival.org/.

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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 Tuesday 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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Pam McGovern

WSS Member In The Spotlight
Meet WSS Member Pam McGovern

1. Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a Mathematical Statistician at the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). I work for NASS's Methodology Division where I serve as Director of the agency's Quality Management Office. I also serve as one of NASS's representatives on teh program committee for the Federal Committee on Survey Methodology Research Conference and have served as conference chair.

2. What attracted you to your current position?
Over the course of my statistical career, I have moved around to various positions of increasing responsibility in an effort to continually learn and face new challenges. This was a new positon within NASS's Methodology Division, bringing with it the challenge to develop and lead an agency-wide quality management program. This was an opportunity for me to grow professoinally within an organization that was strengthening its operations and expertise. Working with a talented group of colleagues, I emyoy being a part of NASS under the leadership of Dr. Cynthia Clark.

3. Finish this sentence: "I joined WSS to..."
...become connected with the statistical community in the DC area. It is a terrific and inexpensive way to learn and network with others in government, academia, and the private sector.

4. What is your favorite vacation spot?
I love to travel when I have the time. My favorite vacation spot is the Hawaiian Islands. My husband and I have visited four of the islands, each having unique experiences. We did lots of hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, whale watching and sightseeing. I just wish they were not so far from DC.

5. How do you like to spend your free time away from work?
I enjoy spending time outdoors. My favorite activities are biking, hiking, kayaking, and skiing. I also enjoy spending my free time with family and friends and participating in volunteer activities.

6. Describe yourself in three words.
Reliable, dedicated, and organized.

7. What was your first job?
When I was in college, I worked as an Actuarial Analyst fpr three summers at a Hartford, CT insurance company. Since I was good a mathematics, I thought I would learn more about the actuarial profession through a summer internship. I was lucky enough to secure one for three summers and passed the first coulble of introductory actuarial eams. However, through expossure to statistics in the exams and college courses, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in statistics rather than a career as an actuary.

8. What advice would you give to someone entering the statistics profession?
I recommend that they obtain an internship early in their career to gain invaluable experience and meet others in the profession. I also recommend connecting with a mentor or advisor who can provide advice and support. It would also be beneficial to get involved in the statistical community by joining professional organizations, presenting at conferences, and taking advantage of training and on-the-job opportunities to further their career. Volunteering with events or offices in the statistical community is also a great way to get involved.

9. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I would like to teach at the college level. During graudate school, I was a Teaching Assistant (TA) for a statistical computer lab course. I had never taught before and initially, did not think I would like it. However, I really enjoyed being a TA and found it to be a rewarding experience.

10. Have you had any great mentors? If so, what made them great?
I have had several terrific mentors while in college and in the workplace. Over the years, these mentors have provided guidance at different junctures in my career path. They provided support and advice, as well as opportunities to grow and advance. I have also served as a mentor to junior staff. I am currently mentoring two undergraduate mathematics and statistics students from the University of Connecticut. I have found great value in mentoring programs, both as a mentee and a mentor.

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Student Column

Getting a Federal Job

I hate cold weather. I grew up in Southeast Texas, and though I love Washington, DC, I always think winter is about a month too long. So I watch for Punxsutawney Phil's prediction every 2 February: Groundhog's Day. The tradition is that if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on Groundhog's Day, we will have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, we will have an early Spring.

I decided to use my fledgling statistical skills to test whether Punxsutawney Phil had any ability in predicting the weather. So what does "Early Spring" mean, anyway? If it gets warm a day before winter starts, is that an "Early Spring"? I decided that I probably could not test such an ambiguous criterium. Anyone who has lived in DC for a while knows that DC Winters will break your heart. The temperature will suddenly rise into the high 50s; your apartment building will turn off the heat and you'll store your jacket. Then suddenly, the temperature plummets into the 20s for a week. So I made my criteria very exact: "Early Spring" means that I, Tim Allen, can put my winter jacket away two weeks before the start of Spring, and not take it out again. This means there can be no runs of three consecutive days of sub-40 degree F weather.

That decided, my null hypothesis was H0: {incidence of Early Springs is independent of Phil's predictions}. My alternate was Ha: {incidence of Early Springs is not independent of Phil's predictions}.

As for data, I only care about DC weather. There are existing studies that use the temperature of the entire US, but I don't live in the entire US. So I used weather data from National Airport. NOAA makes that available. And The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club web site has the history of whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow going back to the 1800's. I decided to use data from 1936-2013; NOAA didn't have data for National Airport before then. I had to skip a few years; sometimes Phil didn't appear, and NOAA didn't publish a few years. But in the end, I was able to make a list of every year, whether Phil saw his shadow or not, and whether there was an "Early Spring" or not.

I realized I was testing independence of categorical data. This would indicate testing my hypotheses using a Chi-Squared test on a two-way contingency table. My contingency table ended up like this:

Chi square table

Which gave me a Chi-Squared statistic of:

Chi square calculation

In order to reject my null hypothesis, I the Chi-squared statistic would have to be greater than 6.314. In fact, under the null hypothesis, the p-value of this Chi-squared statistic is 0.9957777. So I fail to reject the null hypothesis. It looks like Punxatawney Phil is a poor predictor of whether I can put my winter jackets away. Here is the R code I used to figure this out:

cold.stats <- data.frame(year=numeric(0), early.spring=numeric(0))

# Punxatawney Phil did not make predictions for every single yea
for (year in c(c(1936:1942), c(1944:1969),c(1973:2013))) { # Load each data file with the days between Groundhog's Day and the last # day of Winter (21-Mar-2014)
# Read NOAA temperatures for National Airport
# [Temperature data from ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/gsod/
# National Airport is WOD 724050]

file.name <- gsub(x="724050-13743-YEAR.op", pattern="YEAR", replacement=year)
winter <- read.table(file.name, skip=33, nrows=48)[4]

# Here I need to determine if there was an early spring.
# "Early Spring" for me means there are not three consecutive days of
# less than 40 degree F weather in the last two weeks of the Winter.
# Use rle (Run Lengths Encoded) to detect the consecutive sub-40 degree days

cold.runs <- rle(winter[35:48,]<40)
early.spring <- (sum(cold.runs$lengths>=3 & cold.runs$values==TRUE ) == 0)

# Collect some stats on this year, including the number of days colder than 40
temp.df <- data.frame(year, early.spring)
cold.stats <- rbind(cold.stats, temp.df)


# Bind on whether Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow
# Data from The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club web site,
# http://www.groundhog.org/groundhog-day/past-predictions/

saw.shadow <- read.table("saw_shadow.txt", header=TRUE)
phil <- cbind(cold.stats, saw.shadow$shadow)
names(phil) <- c("year", "early.spring", "shadow")

# Do a Chi-Squared Count Test
shadow.spring <- length(subset(phil, subset=(shadow==TRUE & early.spring==TRUE))[,1])
shadow.nospring <- length(subset(phil, subset=(shadow==TRUE & early.spring==FALSE))[,1])
noshadow.spring <- length(subset(phil, subset=(shadow==FALSE & early.spring==TRUE))[,1])
noshadow.nospring <- length(subset(phil, subset=(shadow==FALSE & early.spring==FALSE))[,1])

contingency.table <- as.table(rbind(c(shadow.spring, shadow.nospring), c(noshadow.spring, noshadow.nospring)))
dimnames(contingency.table) <- list(shadow=c("Yes", "No"), early.spring=c("Yes", "No"))

# Run the test
(Xsq <- chisq.test(contingency.table))

An Apology: Last month, I wrote an article on getting a job with the Federal government. I at one point, I referred to non-government jobs as "real world" jobs. I did not mean to imply that government jobs are lesser than non-government jobs; I've been a government employee for 17 years, having worked for the Department of Defense, the State Department, and currently Homeland Security. I believe federal service is one of the highest

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

Note: Please see page 23 of this month's newsletter for the answers to last month's Probs & Stats Brain Teaser crossword puzzle.

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Note From The WSS NEWS Editor

Items for publication in the April, 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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