About the MRDC
Federal Statistical Research Data Centers are partnerships between federal statistical agencies and leading research institutions. They are secure facilities providing authorized access to restricted-use microdata for statistical purposes only. The RDCs provide a secure Census Bureau environment where researchers may have limited access to non-public demographic, economic, and public health microdata, with appropriate safeguards to protect data confidentiality. This controlled environment ensures that the standards for ensuring the confidentiality of data are rigorously maintained.
This introductory video describes what FSRDCs are, what kinds of data are available, and how to access an FSRDC. We look forward to working with you!
The ability to analyze data on individuals, households, establishments, and firms has enormous scientific benefits. These include the ability to make full use of the information collected by government agencies; to analyze the behavior of individuals and firms taking into account the heterogeneity of behavior and characteristics; and to combine sources of data at the individual level to study relationships obscured by more aggregate data.
The MRDC is a project of the Survey Research Center and the Institute for Social Research. The MRDC is supported by units of the University of Michigan and fees charged to researchers and was previously supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The MRDC is located in Room 106 of the Institute for Social Research, a secure physical location certified by the Census Bureau. A full time Census Bureau employee (RDC administrator) is employed on site to oversee daily operations and the research process.
The facility at the University of Michigan has eight workstations for researchers, individual lockers, a conference room, and an office for the RDC administrator. The computing environment allows the RDC administrator and individual researchers to login via a remote server to the Census Bureau Computing Center in Bowie, Maryland where all data and programs reside. The computing architecture provides users with the ability to access non-public data in read-only files and perform research, while maintaining the integrity of non-public data in a secure facility.
Security and Confidentiality
Access to the RDC is restricted to Census Bureau employees or researchers who have Special Sworn Status (SSS) with the Census Bureau, in accordance with Title 13 U.S.C., Section 23(c). The MRDC assists researchers with approved projects in obtaining SSS. Those obtaining SSS must pass a security clearance and must sign and make a sworn statement about preserving the confidentiality of the data. Individuals with SSS have the same obligations to protect the confidentiality of data as Census Bureau employees and are subject to administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions for breach of confidentiality.
A Census Bureau employee (RDC administrator) is assigned to the MRDC. The RDC Administrator provides guidance on using the data and directs researchers to the relevant contacts at federal statistical agencies. The most important role the RDC Administrator plays is to provide guidance to the researchers regarding confidentiality restrictions. By working closely with the researchers and becoming familiar with the details of the research projects, the RDC Administrator will ensure researchers understand the FSRDC’s “culture of confidentiality.”
Results of all research on the MRDC are subject to disclosure review by the appropriate federal agency to assure that they do not reveal any confidential information. Once they have passed this review, they results of the research may be released to the public and published.
The MRDC facility offers a secure location for sensitive work. The basement location provides a secure environment within the already secure Institute for Social Research facility. The RDC contains no windows, maintains only one point of entry, a key code and card swipe to gain access, motion detectors and alarms, GSA-approved filing cabinet and paper shredder, and a surveillance camera. Researchers have no access to the internet or the world wide web while working in the facility.
Access to the MRDC is provided at no charge to University of Michigan faculty and graduate students. Other researchers should inquire to the MRDC for fee information.