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MU Approved to Open New Census Bureau Research Data Center

Research Efficiency

The University of Missouri has received approval from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to become a satellite location for the new Research Data Center (RDC) to be located in Kansas City, Mo. Now, researchers from MU and around the Midwest will be able to access millions of files of census bureau data for research projects ranging from public health issues to economics. Hank Foley, senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies at MU, says this new center will further position MU as a leading research institution in the region.

“Having access to the federal government’s immense database on our campus will allow MU researchers, as well as scientists from around the region, to perform important, complicated research that they otherwise would have to travel hundreds of miles and spend thousands of dollars to complete,” Foley said. “This new research center will be a priceless resource for advancing scientific study here at Mizzou and around the Midwest.”

Although best known for the nationwide census every 10 years, the U.S. Bureau of the Census collects millions of records of information on individuals and businesses based on a large number of specialized surveys, as well as providing access to data maintained by a variety of government agencies.  Although much of these data are made public, a large portion contain sensitive information, such as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and medical records, which remains confidential to protect the privacy of individual Americans. In order to access this sensitive data for sociological, economic and public health research, scientists are required to receive certification from the census bureau and travel to an RDC, where they are closely monitored by government officials to ensure that the data remain confidential. Previously, Mizzou researchers were forced to travel as far as Chicago or Minnesota to reach the closest RDC. Colleen Heflin, an associate professor in the MU Truman School of Public Affairs and co-director of the satellite RDC at MU, says the new center will allow MU researchers to work much more efficiently.

Read the rest at the MU News Bureau >>