News about activities of the Washington Statistical Society
A Chapter of the American Statistical Association

June 1999



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Open Board Meeting

You are invited to the June WSS Board of Directors Meeting which will be held on Tuesday, June 29, 1999; 12:30 pm, in the BLS Cognitive Lab, Postal Square Building, 2 Massachusetts Avenue. If you are interested in attending, for security purposes, you must submit your name to Elizabeth Nichols ( by June 24.

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Statistical Seminar Series on Confidentiality

This seminar is one in a series on issues concerning confidentiality of and access to statistical data. Members of the Washington statistical community are invited to attend the following lecture which will be held at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Room 2990, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE.

On Tuesday, July 20th, 12:30-1:45, Michael Weber, Statistics of Income, IRS, will give a talk entitled "New Methods for SOI Disclosure Avoidance in the Release of Public-Use Files."

The Statistics of Income Division (SOI) began releasing individual income tax return public-use microdata files for Tax Year 1960. The 1994 file contained 215 fields extracted from 96,384 individual tax returns. The weights in the file range from a high of 5,000 to a low of 3. Clearly, this is one of the most powerful public-use microdata files in existence, particularly for high-income individuals.

The IRS, like other agencies, has extremely strict rules on disclosure. In order to comply with these rules when releasing the pubic-use files, SOI: deletes selected outlier records; top codes selected demographic data; eliminates selected fields for high-income returns; and blurs (averages) selected fields. The last major review of SOI's disclosure avoidance effort was conducted in the mid 1980's.

With the advent of sophisticated software linkage programs and the proliferation of computers powerful enough to use them, and the explosion of data available on the Internet, SOI is in the process of reexamining its disclosure avoidance methodology. This re-examination consists of two steps. The first is to determine which fields present on the public-use file are legally available in the private sector. To accomplish this, SOI hired, for the lack of a better term, a forensic financial analyst to investigate this issue. This report should be completed by the time of this presentation. The second step involves using a linkage program (Automatch) to attempt to link the records found in the IRS Individual Master File (IMF), which is the source file for public-use file, with those found in the public-use file. The results of the report of the forensic financial analyst will be used to determine which variables to use when matching the IMF and the public-use files. The assumption being that a variable that cannot be obtained in the private sector should not be used to determine whether a disclosure problem exists. The ability (or inability) to identify individuals after this match should be a good indicator of the level of protection provided in our disclosure avoidance procedures.

Please note that BLS has special security procedures for non-BLS employees. Visitors should enter through the First Street, NE, entrance. Non-BLS employees who want to attend this lecture should contact Karen Jackson (; 202-606-7524) in order to be placed on the visitor's list. Please call by COB of Thursday, July 15, 1999 (please provide name, phone number where you can be reached, and name of your employer).

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1999 FCSM Research Conference
November 15-17, 1999

The Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM) Research Conference will be held on November 15-17, 1999 at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Va. Talks and demonstrations will be presented on the use of administrative data, small area estimation, meta data and data warehousing, statistical data analysis, improvements and alternatives to census-taking, cognitive research methods, estimation and editing, impact of the American Community Survey, matching and record linkage, confidentiality, response issues, new technologies, seasonal adjustment, data collection, statistical software, and display, dissemination and integration of statistical information.

The conference offers a forum for experts from around the world to discuss and exchange current research and methods on areas relevant to Federal government statistical programs. Sessions feature papers and demonstrations by government, private sector, and academic researchers from eight countries. All paper sessions will include an open discussion and some sessions will include a formal discussion. Papers will be made available at the conference and posted to the FCSM web site following the conference.

Conference registration and $150 fee is due by September 15, 1999. Additional information may be obtained from: Ruth Detlefsen, Bureau of the Census Bureau, Room 2641-3, Washington, D.C. 20233; Phone: 301-457-2665, Fax: 301-457-1343, and E-mail: Periodic updates concerning the conference may be found on web site

The 1999 FCSM Research Conference is being sponsored by various Federal government statistical agencies and hosted by the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics.

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Joint Statistical Meetings

Transportation in Baltimore

I am sure that most of you know by now that the Joint Statistical Meetings this summer is in Baltimore. We know that it may be too close for some of you to be funded to attend on a full time basis and stay in a convention hotel. We are considering making daily transportation available to people in the DC area who are interested in attending but who do not have easy transportation or do not want to pay for parking in Baltimore ($10-$14/day). The bus would run between Union Station and the Baltimore Convention Center.

We are proposing the following schedule for an anticipated $5 one way. We would take advance reservations to ensure seats. On-site tickets would be if seats are available.

Suggested Schedule:

Sunday, 8/8
To Baltimore:
12:30 pm
To DC:
7:00 pm
Monday, 8/9, Tuesday, 8/10, and Wednesday, 8/11
To Baltimore:
7:00 am and 9:00 am
To DC:
6:00 pm and 8:30 pm
Thursday, 8/12
To Baltimore:
7:00 am
To DC:
1:00 pm

I would appreciate any feedback you can give me on the viability of this service. Specifically:

  1. Would you use this service? Would you commit yourself to reserving space on a particular day and time?

  2. Is $5 one way a reasonable amount to charge?

  3. Would this schedule fit your needs? If not, what would be better?

Please e-mail me with your thoughts ( Thanks for your help.

Lee L. Decker, Manager, Meetings
American Statistical Association

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SIGSTAT Meeting for June 1999

The June SIGSTAT meeting on the 2nd will be a demo of Egret. Egret is a user-friendly tool for epidemiological studies. Models available are logistic regression - including conditional logistic and random effects, Cox proportional hazards regression, Poisson regression, Exponential regression, Weibull regression, Kaplan-Meier, and 2xK Contingency Table analysis. A Windows version should be ready by June. (Note June's meeting is on the 1st Wednesday)

All SIGSTAT meeting are held in Waugh A on the 3rd floor of 1800 M St, NW. Directions to the meetings and a full schedule can be found on the SIGSTAT website

First-time attendees should contact Charlie Hallahan at 202-694-5051 or to have their name put on the admittance list.

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Note From The WSS NEWS Editor

Items for publication in the Summer 1999 WSS NEWS should be submitted no later than July 10, 1999. E-mail items to Michael Feil at FAX items to Michael Feil at (301) 443-4045.

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WSS People

Dwight Brock (301) 496-9795
Past President
Graham Kalton (301) 251-8253
Mary Batcher (202) 327-6740
Elizabeth Nichols (301) 457-4865
Jill Montaquila (301) 517-4046

Vice Chair for District 2 of
Council of Chapters

Andrew A. White (202) 334-2511
Council of Chapters Representative
Ron Fecso (703) 306-1780 ext. 6906
John Czajka (202) 484-4685
David Marker (301) 251-4398
Carolyn Shettle (301) 215-9100 x 166
Sandra West (202) 606-7384

WSS Program Chairs
Agriculture & Natural Resources
Bill Iwig (202) 720-3895
Dwight French (202) 586-1126
Linda Atkinson (202) 694-5046
Art Kennickell (202) 452-2247
Brenda Cox (202) 484-4231
Stuart Scott (202) 606-7383
Public Health and Biostatistics
Trena Ezzati-Rice (301) 436-7022 ext. 133
Rene Gonin (301) 517-8084
Public Policy
Carolee Bush (202) 366-6946
Phil Ross (202) 260-5244
Quality Assurance
Amrut Champaneri (202) 690-3130
Glenn White (202) 327-6414
Short Courses
Roberta Sangster (202) 606-7517
Fritz Scheuren (703) 549-1120
Social & Demographic Statistics
Michael Horrigan (202) 606-5905
Edith McArthur (202) 219-1442
Statistical Computing
Bob Jernigan (202) 885-3170
Mike Fleming (703) 235-5213 ext. 170
Data Collection Methods
Brad Edwards (301) 294-2021
Linda Stinson (202) 606-7528

Fotios Kokkotos (202) 414-4563
WSS NEWS Editors
Michael Feil (301) 443-4234
Fran Chevarley (301) 436-7093 ext. 153
Electronic Mail
Michael L. Cohen (202) 334-3765
Michael Greene (703) 247-1575
S.V. (Vince) Massimini (703) 883-5893
Renee Miller (202) 426-1117
Antionette Martin 202) 426-1110
Fritz Scheuren (703) 549-1120
Quantitative Literacy
Carolyn Carroll (703) 352-1712
Science Fair
Lee Abramson (301) 415-6180
Video Librarian
Mel Kollander (202) 973-2820
Social Arrangements
Jeri Mulrow (202) 327-6772
Local Arrangement
Wendy Rotz (202) 874-0969
WSS Historian
Michael P. Cohen (202) 219-1917
WSS Committee on ASA Fellows
Phil Kott (703) 235-5211 x 102

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First posted May 28, 1999
Last modified June 7, 1999

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