Federal Statistical Research Data Center to open in St. Louis

Census-approved branch to be a partnership of four research institutions

Researchers in the St. Louis region will soon have better access to important government data in economics, demography, urban and regional development, health care and other fields. 

The U.S. Census Bureau has approved plans to open a Federal Statistical Research Data Center (FSRDC) branch at Washington University in St. Louis. The branch will be supported by a consortium of four St. Louis-based research institutions  —  the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Saint Louis University, University of Missouri–St. Louis and Washington University

The St. Louis Research Data Center is tentatively scheduled to open during the 2022-23  academic year and will contain confidential microdata from the U.S. Census Bureau and other federal agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis and National Center for Health Statistics.

“In a world where data are everything, the Research Data Center will give researchers access to U.S. microdata that cannot be accessed anywhere else,” said Todd Milbourn, who will oversee the center’s installation and is vice dean of faculty and research at Olin Business School at Washington University. “The data coverage spans the gamut of employee wages and demographics to health-care coverage and outcomes to firm characteristics and productivity. The data center will surely be a critical hub for students and faculty to flesh out new insights that will guide both future policy and practice.”

The St. Louis Research Data Center will be a branch of the Kansas City RDC, located at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Currently, local researchers must travel to Kansas City or the University of Missouri Research Data Center in Columbia, Mo., to access secure government data. The St. Louis branch will be both more convenient and economical as researchers from consortium institutions may access data at no charge, explained Beverly Wendland, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at Washington University.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to facilitate research productivity not only for Washington University, but for the St. Louis community,” Wendland said. “The branch will further cement St. Louis’ reputation as a leader in research and will help attract and retain top talent.”

There are currently 30 Federal Statistical Research Data Centers nationwide, each one meeting strict physical and information security requirements. The centers have the computing capacity and software to handle large data sets and complex calculations. Approved researchers from across the country can collaborate via the secure RDC computing environment. Because the data contain the personal information of Census respondents, the Census Bureau must approve all projects and requires all researchers to undergo training to obtain Special Sworn Status. 

For more information about the Federal Statistical Research Data Center program, visit census.gov/fsrdc.

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