Policies and Procedures

Using the KRDC

KRDC is secure facility and access is restricted to those researchers with approved projects and who have received designation of Special Sworn Status by the U.S. Census Bureau. Graduate students are eligible to work in KRDC on projects with faculty sponsorship. In addition, non-U.S. citizens are eligible provided that cumulative residency in the United States is at least three years prior to application.

For researchers at one of the consortium institutions, costs for use of the facility are governed under the KRDC consortium agreement. There are no fees charged to approved members of consortium institutions, except for those additional fees assessed by the NCHS and BLS for their data products. If you are not a researcher at one of the KRDC consortium institutions, fees for using the KRDC depend on the amount of time you will need to complete a project. Projects using restricted data at a federal statistical research data center can last 3-5 years. Direct your inquiries to the KRDC Executive Director for usage fees.

The KRDC operates under Title 13 and Title 26 of the U.S. Code security protocol; thus, researchers wishing to use the facility must develop a project proposal, receive approval for the project, and undergo security clearance. Researchers cleared to use the facility have access to secure terminals that enable access to restricted data. Because of the nature of available data, researchers who violate security and disclosure protocol are subject to loss of privileges, as well as civil and criminal penalties.

All data intended for use in published works or public presentations must undergo disclosure review before presentation to the public.

Proposal Process

Prospective researchers interested in applying to use the non-public Census, NCHS, and BLS datasets for statistical purposes are encouraged to first discuss their ideas with advisory board representatives at our partner institutions. Those with a developed research idea should then consult with the KRDC Administrator about the content and form of a research proposal before starting the proposal development process. The KRDC Administrator will help researchers prepare and submit materials for review, and can assist researchers in determining data availability and in preparing high-quality proposals. The proposal review process is lengthy and rigorous. It is not uncommon for the proposal process to take at least 4-6 months for NCHS projects, and 6-9 months for Census projects, and sometimes longer if the project requires multi-agency review.  Interested graduate students must submit a letter of support from their academic advisor prior to beginning the proposal process outlined below.

For projects using Census economic, demographic, or mixed data, the steps, in order, include:

  • Contact the KRDC Administrator about your project to make sure it is a good fit for the RDCs
  • Read through the CES proposal instructions
  • Submit a RDC Proposal Registration Form to the KRDC Administrator in advance of a scheduled meeting with the Administrator
  • Work with KRDC Administrator in developing your proposal using the template outlined in the CES proposal instructions, bearing in mind that Census projects must: (i) Provide benefit to Census Bureau programs; (ii) Demonstrate scientific merit; (iii) Require non-public data; (iv) Be feasible given the data; and (v) Pose no risk of disclosure
  • When the KRDC Administrator determines the proposal to be ready, they will submit your final proposal for Census review. The final proposal consists of three separate documents: abstract of the proposal, project description (full proposal), and statement of benefits to the Census Bureau based on the Predominant Purpose Statement.
  • Once approved by the US Census Bureau, there may be additional agency reviews, depending on the specific datasets the researcher requests.
  • Once approved, you will work with the KRDC Administrator to obtain Special Sworn Status (SSS). To receive special sworn status, the applicant must pass a background check and swear to protect respondent confidentiality for life. This process establishes the researcher as a temporary uncompensated employee of the U.S. Census Bureau.

For projects using NCHS data, the steps include: 

  • Contact the KRDC Administrator to let them know you are developing a NCHS health data project.
  • Follow the directions for NCHS data projects.
  • Once approved by NCHS, contact the KRDC Administrator, forwarding the approved proposal and the notification that it was approved.
  • Once approved, you will work with the KRDC Administrator to obtain Special Sworn Status (SSS). To receive special sworn status, the applicant must pass a background check and swear to protect respondent confidentiality for life. This process establishes the researcher as a temporary uncompensated employee of the U.S. Census Bureau.

For projects using BLS data, the steps include: 

  • Contact the KRDC Administrator to let them know you are developing a BLS data project.
  • Follow the directions for BLS data projects.
  • BLS projects must: (i) Be entirely statistical in nature; (ii) Have technical merit; (iii) Be of significant interest to BLS; and (iv) Further the mission of the BLS.
  • Once approved by BLS, contact the KRDC Administrator, forwarding the approved proposal and the notification that it was approved.
  • Once approved, you will work with the KRDC Administrator to obtain Special Sworn Status (SSS). To receive special sworn status, the applicant must pass a background check and swear to protect respondent confidentiality for life. This process establishes the researcher as a temporary uncompensated employee of the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Inform the BLS Project Coordinator once your SSS clearance is approved and your Census account has been created. It is important to keep your BLS Project Coordinator aware of where you are in the process.

Useful Resources for Security Protocols

Census Bureau Data Protection Policy
This site explains the federal laws that ensure privacy of data and also explains principles of operation at Research Data Centers.

RDC Researcher Handbook
This manual published by the Census Bureau provides extensive information about the process of developing proposals, obtaining special sworn status, confidentiality, and other legal information.