PRIVATE LIVES AND PUBLIC POLICIES

Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics

George T. Duncan, Thomas B. Jabine, and Virginia A. de Wolf, editors

Panel on Confidentiality and Data Access

Committee on National Statistics

Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

National Research Council and the

Social Science Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1993



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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics PRIVATE LIVES AND PUBLIC POLICIES Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics George T. Duncan, Thomas B. Jabine, and Virginia A. de Wolf, editors Panel on Confidentiality and Data Access Committee on National Statistics Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council and the Social Science Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1993

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Funding for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Bureau of the Census of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income Division of the U.S. Department of Treasury, the National Institute on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education, and, through their general contributions to the work of the Committee on National Statistics, several other federal agencies. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Panel on Confidentiality and Data Access (U.S.) Private lives and public policies : confidentiality and accessibility of government statistics / Panel on Confidentiality and Data Access [of the] Committee on National Statistics, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council and the Social Science Research Council. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-04743-9 1. Privacy, Right of—United States. 2. Public records—United States—Access control. 3. United States—Statistical services. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on National Statistics. II. Social Science Research Council (U.S.) III. Title. JC596.2.U5P36 1993 323.44'8-dc20 93-31312 CIP Copyright 1993 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics PANEL ON CONFIDENTIALITY AND DATA ACCESS GEORGE T. DUNCAN (Chair) H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University JAMES T. BONNEN, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University JOE S. CECIL, Research Division, Federal Judicial Center MARTIN H. DAVID, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin RUTH R. FADEN, Department of Health Policy and Management, The Johns Hopkins University DAVID H. FLAHERTY, Social Science Centre, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada F. THOMAS JUSTER, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan GARY T. MARX, Department of Sociology, University of Colorado at Boulder WILLIAM M. MASON, Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles DONALD B. RUBIN, Department of Statistics, Harvard University ELEANOR SINGER, Center for the Social Sciences, Columbia University WILLIAM H. WILLIAMS, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Hunter College Virginia A. de Wolf, Study Director Thomas B. Jabine, Consultant Wlodzimierz Okrasa, Staff Liaison, Social Science Research Council Robert W. Pearson, Staff Liaison, Social Science Research Council David L. Szanton, Staff Liaison, Social Science Research Council Michele L. Conrad, Senior Project Assistant

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL MEMBERS, BOARD AND COMMITTEE ON PROBLEMS AND POLICY 1993–1994 ROBERT M. COEN (Chair, Board), Department of Economics, Northwestern University PAUL B. BALTES, Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education, Berlin, Germany ROBERT BATES, Department of Government, Harvard University LAWRENCE D. BOBO, Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles WILLIAM CRONON, Department of History, University of Wisconsin ALBERT FISHLOW, International and Area Studies, University of California, Berkeley BARBARA HEYNS, Department of Sociology, New York University NAGAYO HOMMA, American Studies, Tokyo Woman's Christian University ELIZABETH JELIN, Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad (CEDES), Buenos Aires, Argentina JOEL SHERZER, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin BURTON H. SINGER (Chair, Committee on Problems and Policy), Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University MARTA TIENDA, Population Research Center, University of Chicago KENNETH W. WACHTER, Department of Demography, University of California, Berkeley DAVID WARD, Interim Chancellor and Provost, University of Wisconsin ANNETTE B. WEINER, Department of Anthropology, New York University BRACKETTE F. WILLIAMS, African American Studies Program, University of Arizona ROBERT B. ZAJONC, Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris, France DAVID FEATHERMAN, President

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS 1992-1993 BURTON H. SINGER (Chair), Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University NORMAN M. BRADBURN (Vice Chair), National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago MARTIN H. DAVID, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin NOREEN GOLDMAN, Office of Population Research, Princeton University LOUIS GORDON, Department of Mathematics, University of Southern California JOHN F. GEWEKE, Department of Economics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis JOEL B. GREENHOUSE, Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University ERIC HANUSHEK, Department of Economics, University of Rochester ROBERT M. HAUSER, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin JANET L. NORWOOD, The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C. DOROTHY P. RICE, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco JOHN E. ROLPH, The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California KEITH RUST, Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland DANIEL L. SOLOMON, Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University MIRON L. STRAF, Director

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. * * * Founded in 1923, the Social Science Research Council is an autonomous, nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization composed of social scientists from all over the world. The Council's primary purpose is to advance the quality, value, and effectiveness of social science research. It seeks to encourage scholars in separate disciplines—e.g., anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, statisticians, and others—to work together on important topical, conceptual, and methodological issues that can benefit from interdisciplinary collaboration. Natural scientists, geographers, linguists, and scholars in the humanities also participate in many of the Council's activities. The Council's work is carried out through a wide variety of workshops and conferences, fellowships and grants, summer training institutes, research consortia, scholarly exchanges, and publications.

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics Acknowledgments The Panel on Confidentiality and Data Access is grateful to the many organizations and individuals who contributed to its work. Support for the study was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Bureau of the Census of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income Division of the U.S. Department of Treasury, the National Institute on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education, and, through their general contributions to the work of the Committee on National Statistics, several other federal agencies. We also thank the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Tansportation for granting time, through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, for Virginia A. de Wolf to serve as the panel's study director. We thank the many federal government officials who gave generously of their time to attend panel meetings, provide documentation necessary for the panel's work, and answer our many questions: they provided an invaluable sense of the structure and needs of the federal statistical system. We also appreciate the help of researchers, privacy advocates, and others who provided

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics useful insights into nongovernment perspectives on data confidentiality and accessibility issues. We are grateful to the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) for their efforts in developing and collaborating on this study. Without the guidance and encouragement of CNSTAT director Miron Straf, SSRC president David Featherman, and former SSRC staff associate Robert Pearson, the work of this panel would not have been possible. We also thank David Szanton and Wlodzimierz Okrasa, who ably maintained SSRC's active role in the study after the departure of Robert Pearson. We thank the participants and chairs of two workshops that preceded the panel's formation for their contribution to our work. We thank Richard Suzman and other staff of the National Institute on Aging, as well as staff of the Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics for their support of the Workshop on the Longitudinal Retirement History, held in September 1987. We thank Charles Dickens, former head of the Surveys and Analysis Section, and other staff of the National Science Foundation for their support of the Workshop on Confidentiality of and Access to Doctorate Records, held in November 1988. We also thank the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of the National Research Council, and their staffs for their cooperation in making possible the Workshop on Confidentiality of and Access to Doctorate Records. Both of the workshops identified important issues for the panel. We also thank the participants and chair of the Workshop on Confidentiality of and Access to National Center for Education Statistics Data, and we thank the National Center for Education Statistics for its support of the workshop. We thank the participants of the Conference on Disclosure Limitation Approaches and Data Access. Both of these panel sponsored activities outlined issues for the panel's consideration. Jean Shirhall helped to strengthen the presentation of our report through her skillful editing; we thank her for her efforts. We are indebted to Eugenia Grohman, associate director for reports, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, for her role in guiding our report through the review and publication process. We especially thank the panel's staff. They not only functioned

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics as a harmonious team in drawing out the best in the panel members, but also contributed individually in noteworthy ways. Virginia A. de Wolf, study director, was especially helpful in contributing her organizational talents and energies to the conference, meetings, and workshop that the panel sponsored. Thomas B. Jabine, consultant, contributed his expository skill, experience with statistical agencies, and uncommon wisdom. Robert H. Mugge, consultant, helped with the analysis of background materials submitted by statistical agencies and prepared a useful background paper on informed consent and notification statements used by federal statistical agencies. Michele L. Conrad, senior project assistant, the panel's communication center, ensured that the project functioned both efficiently and effectively. Finally, I thank the panel members, who gave generously of their time and wisdom to the deliberations of the panel and the production of this report. It has been rewarding to work with such a distinguished group of people. George T. Duncan, Chair Panel on Confidentiality and Data Access

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   PRINCIPLES AND PROBLEMS   15     The Tension Between Private Lives and Public Policies,   15     Study Goals and Scope,   17     How Does the Federal Statistical System Function?,   20     Key Definitions,   22     What Principles Should Guide Statistical Agencies?,   25     The Special Role of Federal Statistical Agencies,   29     Date Access in a Democratic Society,   31     Problems in Ensuring Confidentiality and Data Access,   33     Structure of the Report,   42     Notes,   43 2   THE FRAMEWORK OF STUDY   45     Evolution of the Federal Statistical System,   45     Earlier Studies of Privacy, Confidentiality, and Data Access,   49     What Has Changed to Warrant a New Study?,   51     Responsibilities of Federal Statistical Agencies,   56     Notes,   58

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics 3   DATA SUBJECTS   61     Introduction,   61     Informed Consent and Notification,   63     Research Related to Confidentiality and Data Access,   80     Public Information Activities of Statistical Agencies and Organizations,   86 4   DATA USERS   91     Basic Concepts Related to Data Access,   92     Expectations of Data Users,   93     Legal and Ethical Responsibilities of Data Users,   100 5   LEGISLATION   109     General Regulation of Federal Statistical and Research Records,   111     Agency-Specific Legislation,   117     Findings and Recommendations,   132     Notes,   139 6   TECHNICAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES   141     Introduction,   141     Restricted Data: Statistical Techniques to Protect Confidentiality,   143     Restricted Access: Administrative Procedures to Protect Confidentiality,   157     Notes,   178 7   STATISTICAL DATA ON ORGANIZATIONS   181     Introduction,   181     The Energy Information Administration vs. the Department of Justice: A Further Erosion of Functional Separation,   185     Inability to Share Business Lists: An Embarrassment to the Federal Statistical System,   190     Waivers: Whose Information Is It?,   196     User Access: Getting a Better Return on Investments in Economic Statistics,   199

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Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics 8   MANAGING CONFIDENTIALITY AND DATA ACCESS FUNCTIONS   203     Management of Confidentiality and Data Access Questions in the Federal Statistical System,   204     Alternative Models for Managing Confidentiality and Data Access Questions: A Look at Other Countries,   210     U.S. Proposals for an Independent Privacy Protection Board,   214     Findings and Recommendations,   215     RECOMMENDATIONS   219     REFERENCES   229     APPENDICES     A   STUDY PROCEDURES   243 B   BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES   259     INDEX   266

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