WSS NEWS--News about activities of the Washington Statistical Society - a Chapter of the American Statistical Association

April 1996


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Nominations Sought for the 1996 Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics

After the unexpected death in May 1994 of Roger Herriot, an Associate Commissioner for Statistical Standards and Methodology at the National Center for Education Statistics, the Washington Statistical Society, the Social Statistics and Government Statistics Sections of the American Statistical Association established an award in his memory to recognize individuals who develop unique approaches to the solution of statistical problems in federal data collection programs.

The award is intended to reflect the special characteristics that marked Roger Herriot's career:

The award is not restricted 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, from entry to senior, federal employees, private sector employees, or employees of the academic community, may be nominated on the basis of the significance of the specific contribution.

The recipient of the 1996 Roger Herriot Award will be chosen by a committee composed of representatives of the Social Statistics Section and Government Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association and a representative of the Washington Statistical Society. Mr. Herriot was associated with and strongly supportive of these organizations during his career. The Award consists of an honorarium of $500 and a framed citation.

A nomination form can be obtained by contacting Daniel Kasprzyk at 202-219-1588, 202-219-1728(fax), or e-mail: All nomination forms should be returned to the Roger Herriot Award Committee, c/o Daniel Kasprzyk, 4906 Colonel Contee Place, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772-2875.

Completed nomination forms must be received by May 17, 1996.

Electronic Distribution of WSS News Continues

The WSS Electronic distribution is nearly 200 members who receive the newsletter via email a week or more prior to the surface mail newsletter. We will soon be getting electronic mailing data that will allow us to save a significant amount of postage and printing costs by only sending the newsletter electronically to those who request this option.

If you would like to receive the newsletter by email, please send a note to Vince Massimini ( listing your name, organization, and internet email address. Also, if your email address has changed, please let Vince know. Your messages may be bouncing and he can't get them to you. If you are unsure, send Vince a note anyway.

And don't forget that WSS is on the World Wide Web! If you haven't stopped by, please do so. You can check current lectures, read the newsletter, look for jobs, hook into other statistical organizations, etc. Many thanks to Dan Rope of BLS who put the page together and Jim Gentle of GMU who is providing the WWW site. The WSS WWW page is at URL if you would like to give it a try. Note that the newsletter is also published on the page--it's the same as the surface or email edition, just a slightly different format.


For the past year, we have been transmitting the WSS Calendar by FAX usually during the last week of the month. The Calendar contains an abbreviated list of WSS seminars on a page or two that are suitable for posting. A more detailed description is in the WSS newsletter.

If you would like to receive the calendar by fax, please call Michael Greene on 703-247-1575 or 301-977-4150. Also, if your fax number changes, call and let him know.

An alternative to receiving the calendar by fax is by anonymous ftp from Once connected change directories to wss. The calendar will be easily recognizable from the word cal somewhere in the file name and the extension uue. This file is uuencoded so make sure to uudecode it on the way down. The file is in Word Perfect 5.1. If you will be downloading to a PC over phone lines using PCPLUS, Windows Terminal or similar software, the file type should be set to binary.

Kullback Memorial Research Conference

A two-day research conference will be held in May, 1996 in memory of the late Solomon Kullback, Professor Emeritus and long-time chair of the Department of Statistics at George Washington University. Professor Kullback died in August 1994.

Kullback had a highly distinguished career both at the National Security Agency, where he played an important role in deciphering codes in World War II, and in academia. He is best known for the development of Kullback-Leibler (K-L) information measures, which have found application in many areas of statistics, and for his work in analyzing multidimensional discrete data in contingency tables.

The Conference will take place on May 24-25, 1996, at the Washington Marriott Hotel in downtown Washington, DC, and will be hosted by George Washington University as part of the University's 175th Anniversary Celebration. A major theme of the Conference will be the use of K-L information measures in statistical research today. Among the speakers at the Conference will be Alan Agresti, Andrew Barron, Herman Chernoff, Tom Cover, Samuel Greenhouse, C. Terrence Ireland, Wesley Johnson, and Robert Shumway.

Lodging is available at the Washington Marriott Hotel at a special rate of $99 for the nights of May 23-26. To make lodging reservations, telephone 202-872-1500 or 1-800-344- 4445 before April 22, 1996 and indicate your Conference participation (in the name of the George Washington University Statistics Department). The hotel is located at 22nd and M Sts. NW and is a short walk from the Metro station at Foggy Bottom/GWU.

There will be a Conference dinner on Friday night, May 24, featuring presentations by Sam Greenhouse and Terry Ireland on Kullback's life and work. At a luncheon on May 25, a presentation will be made on Kullback's work in cryptology at NSA. The cost of the (light) luncheon on Saturday is included in the basic $65 registration fee; there will be a separate charge of $35 for the May 24 dinner.

For more information, contact the Department of Statistics, George Washington University, Washington DC 20052, at (202) 994-6356, (202) 994-6917 (fax).or by e-mail to If you plan to attend, please provide the following information as soon as possible to --

Dalila Manadjian, Conference Secretary
Department of Statistics
The George Washington University
Washington, D.C. 20052
Fax (202) 994-6917

Checks should be made payable to:

The George Washington University
Department of Statistics


The 13th Quality and Productivity Research Conference and the 3rd Spring Research Conference on Statistics in Industry and Technology will be held jointly at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD from May 29 through May 31, 1996.

For regularly updated information, see the NIST Statistical Engineering Division WWW Home Page ( For questions about local arrangements contact Lisa Gill ( or 301-975-4516). For questions about the invited program, contact either of the conference cochairs, Eric Lagergren ( or 301-975-3245) or Raghu Kacker ( For questions about the contributed program, contact Will Guthrie( or 301-975-2854).

SIGSTAT Meetings

SIGSTAT, the Special Interest Group in Statistics for the Capitol PC User Group and the Washington Operations Research and Management Science Council (WORMSC), will be sponsoring the following meetings. On April 10, the topic will focus on S-Plus 3.3 Trellis Graphics. On May 8, the meeting will examine StatXact 3 for Windows (rescheduled from the January snowstorms). On June 12, Stata for Windows will be examined.

All meetings are from 12:30 - 1:30 in Room 1208, 1301 New York Ave, NW. First time attendees should call Charlie Hallahan at 202-501-6928 and leave their name. Information on SIGSTAT can be obtained on the WWW using the following URL: http://www.ers.usda.govsigstat and on the Members/Sigs page at

Note from the WSS NEWS Editors

Items for the June 1996 WSS NEWS should be submitted no later than April 30, 1996.

Fax items to Mike Feil at (301) 443-4045 or e-mail items to

Maria Elena Gonzalez Mederos

Maria Elena Gonzalez Mederos died Monday, February 19, of cardiac arrest while vacationing with family in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She was 63.

Ms. Gonzalez was an internationally-known statistician who lived and worked in Washington most of her adult life. Born in Cuba she was educated in Havana University, in the United States and in England -- with an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago (in 1953), and masters degrees from both the London School of Economics (in 1963) and Columbia University (in 1968) where she also taught.

Ms. Gonzalez worked at the Bureau of the Census from 1970 to 1974. She joined the Statistical Policy Division of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 1974 where she remained until her death. While at OMB she made substantial contributions to improving the quality of international statistics in the Latin American and Caribbean regions, including the drafting of an agreement for statistical cooperation among the national statistical offices of the US, Canada and Mexico. She regularly represented the U.S. at meetings of the Inter-American Statistical Conference, Inter-American Statistical Institute and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. She was active internationally in other areas as well. For example, in 1985, she headed the U.S. delegation to the annual meeting of the UN Economic Commission for Europe's Conference of European Statisticians. Ms. Gonzalez was an elected member of the International Statistical Institute.

Maria Elena's U.S. contributions to her profession were many, notably in small area and metropolitan statistics. She was a prominent member of the Washington statistical community, whose personal scholarship and energy earned her wide recognition. Among other honors she was elected President of the Washington Statistical Society and a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.

Perhaps Ms. Gonzalez's greatest achievement was to found and chair the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology -- a role she played for over 20 years, until her death. This Committee brought together the best statistical minds in the federal government to work on common problems. It was enormously productive under her leadership. Without any doubt, her vision, energy and gentle persistence were the keys to its success.

For over 20 years, Ms. Gonzalez was a trustee of "Of Human Rights," an organization which gathers and disseminates information about the human rights situation in Cuba. "Of Human Rights" was founded by her mother, the late Elena Mederos de Gonzalez, a prominent Cuban civil rights leader. Since 1994 Ms. Gonzalez also served as treasurer of the organization. Ms. Gonzalez worked in many campaigns to promote the release of Cuban political prisoners. In 1989 she translated the poetry of Ernesto Diaz Rodriguez, then a political prisoner in Cuba. The book entitled "The Bell of Dawn," was published in English and Spanish resulting in a worldwide campaign for his release. Diaz Rodriguez was set free after serving 22 years in prison.

The funeral for Ms. Gonzalez took place in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, February 21. A memorial service in Washington will be held at a later date. Ms. Gonzalez left no immediate survivors. Donations in her memory can be made to "Of Human Rights" Freedom House, 1319 18th Street NW, Washington DC 20036.

WSS People
President                         Past President                
Ron Fecso   (703) 235-5211        Sue Ahmed  (202) 219-1781       

Phillip Kott  (703) 235-5211

Secretary                          Treasurer
Elizabeth Sweet  (301) 457-4860    Carolyn Shettle  (703) 306-1780

WSS Program Chairs

Agriculture & Natural Resources    Economics
Mike Steiner  (202) 690-2486       Linda Atkinson   (202) 219-0934
Robert Latta  (202) 586-1385       Art Kennickell   (202) 452-2247

Methodology                        Physical Sciences & Engineering     
Sandra West   (202) 606-7384       Paul L. Zador    (301) 294-2825
Julia Bienias (301) 457-4934       

Public Health and Statistics       Quality Assurance                  
Sally Hunsberger (301) 435-0434    Harold Johnson    (202) 606-7758
Julie Legler     (301) 493-6832    Amrut Champaneri  (202) 268-2299

Social & Demographic Statistics    Statistical Computing          
Mike Horrigan    (202) 606-5905    Jim Gentle       (703) 993-1994
Robert Kominski  (301) 457-2120    Mark Pierzchala  (703) 235-5218

Short Courses                      Data Collection Methods     
Glenn White     (202) 327-6414     Theresa DeMaio   (301) 457-4894  
                                   Mary Grace Kovar (201) 223-6040

Bill Arends          (202) 720-6812                 

WSS NEWS Editors
Mike Feil            (301) 443-1330                 
Alyson Muff          (703) 918-2217                 

Antionette Martin    (202) 254-5409
Renee Miller         (202) 254-5507
Fritz Scheuren       (202) 549-1120

Mel Kollander        (202) 973-2820 

Quantitative Literacy
Shail Butani         (202) 606-6347

Local Arrangement
Robie Sangster       (202) 606-7517