plishing these ends in an era of expected budget shortfalls and in view of the limited staff resources in the agency, including some of the technological skills that will be required to modernize the data processing and dissemination systems, is to take advantage of consortia opportunities and to proceed within a framework that accords priority to the most essential tasks.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
The task of developing and implementing a dissemination improvement plan is a tall order for NCSES to take on by itself. The agency is already stressed, with its constrained staff and budget resources, to meet the growing demand for its data and implement the several new areas of responsibility that have recently been added to its roles and missions.
One of several possible approaches to meet the needs of data users as well as to encouraging and expanding development of tools and applications that would facilitate the dissemination of its information by developers and dissemination channels is to take the necessary steps in concert with other agencies in the federal statistical community. The federal statistical agencies, as a group, have begun to organize to enhance dissemination of their data in the project called the Statistical Community of Practice and Engagement (SCOPE). SCOPE is an important beginning. There are efficiencies for both the agencies and users from more cross-agency collaboration, harmonization of definitions and terminology, identification of best practices, and sharing of the development of common tools that support best practices. As a participant in this community of practice, NCSES could maximize use of the capacity of Data.gov for service as a primary public interface and dissemination platform/portal, retrieval of data sets on the Data.gov data set hosting platform that is currently being developed, and harness Data.gov cloud computing power.
NCSES should also consider taking advantage of commonly developed, user-friendly data delivery and data display tools that have largely been developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) community. These tools address 508 compliant alternatives to tabular displays, develop displays of complex sample survey data while protecting confidential microdata, and develop visualization tools for multifaceted statistical designs. And it can benefit from such projects as promoting data harmonization and integration through the development of metadata and data exchange. Specifically, SCOPE will take the fundamental steps of developing and implementing Stats Metadata 1.0 (for delivery in fiscal 2012) and establishing common definitions to facilitate data exchange and interoperability (by fiscal 2013). The goal is to promote development and use of common platforms for data collection and data analysis and to suggest research on