Researchers interested in applying to use the non-public Census datasets for statistical purposes should consult with the RDC Administrator about the content and form of a research proposal early in the proposal development process. The RDC Administrator will help researchers prepare and submit materials for review, and can assist researchers in determining data availability and in preparing high-quality proposals. The proposal review process is lengthy and rigorous. It is not uncommon for the proposal process to take at least six months to over a year.
For projects using Census economic, demographic, or mixed data, here is a basic outline of the steps:
- Ensure your project requires RDC data and read through the CES proposal instructions.
- Contact the RDC Administrator about your project to make sure it is a good fit for the RDCs.
- Work with the RDC Administrator in developing your final proposal.
- When the RDC Administrator determines the proposal to be ready, they will submit your final proposal for Census review. The final proposal consists of three separate documents: abstract of the proposal, project description (full proposal), and statement of benefits to the Census Bureau (PPS).
- Once approved by the US Census Bureau, there may be additional agency reviews, depending on the specific datasets the researcher requests.
- Once approved, you will need to obtain Special Sworn Status (SSS). This includes passing a background check and making a signed, sworn statement about preserving the confidentiality of the data.
Proposed RDC projects using Census data must:
- Provide benefit to Census Bureau programs
- Demonstrate scientific merit
- Require non–public data
- Be feasible given the data
- Pose no risk of disclosure
For health data projects, here are the basic steps:
- Contact the RDC Administrator to let them know you are developing a health data project.
- Follow the directions for AHRQ or NCHS data projects.
- Once approved by AHRQ or NCHS, contact the RDC Administrator, forwarding the approved proposal and the notification that it was approved.
Once approved, you will need to obtain Special Sworn Status (SSS). This includes passing a background check and making a signed, sworn statement about preserving the confidentiality of the data.