Secure Shouldn’t Mean Secret: A Call for Public Policy Schools to Share, Support, and Teach Data Stewardship

Paper by Maggie Reeves and Robert McMillan: “The public has long benefitted from researchers using individual-level administrative data (microdata) to answer questions on a gamut of issues related to the efficiency, effectiveness, and causality of programs and policies. However, these benefits have not been pervasive because few researchers have had access to microdata, and their tools, security practices, and technology have rarely been shared. With a clear push to expand access to microdata for purposes of rigorous analysis (Abraham et al., 2017; ADRF Network Working Group Participants, 2018), public policy schools must grapple with imperfect options and decide how to support secure data facilities for their faculty and students. They also must take the lead to educate students as data stewards who can navigate the challenges of microdata access for public policy research.

This white paper outlines the essential components of any secure facility, the pros and cons of four types of secure microdata facilities used for public policy research, the benefits of sharing tools and resources, and the importance of training. It closes with a call on public policy schools to include data stewardship as part of the standard curriculum…(More)”.