Expanding Access to Administrative Data for Research in the United States
4 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2010
We argue that the development and expansion of direct, secure access to administrative micro-data should be a top priority for the NSF. Administrative data offer much larger sample sizes and have far fewer problems with attrition, non-response, and measurement error than traditional survey data sources. Administrative data are therefore critical for cutting-edge empirical research, and particularly for credible public policy evaluation. Although a number of agencies have successful programs to provide access to administrative data - most notably the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - the United States generally lags far behind other countries in making data available to researchers. We discuss the value of administrative data using examples from recent research in the United States and abroad. We then outline a plan to develop incentives for agencies to broaden data access for scientific research based on competition, transparency, and rewards for producing socially valuable scientific output.
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