The New York University (NYU) Administrative Data Facility (ADRF) offers a new approach to sharing data across agencies and across state lines. It enables multiple local, state, and federal agencies to keep data in separate secure areas, and link data for approved projects.
The ADRF allows agencies within the same state or different sates to agree to share their data in a common area in the cloud for specific approved projects. If approved, staff from multiple agencies can jointly access the common area, so that they can work together to develop new integrated datasets, share information about coding differences or similarities, and develop common measures. No personally identifiable information is stored in the cloud – the data are hashed and deidentified (with a common hash algorithm) -- before being transferred to the secure area. Moreover, data stewardship modules can be deployed so that agencies can track use and work output. Over 175 agency staff, from about 50 agencies, have already accessed and used the ADRF.
The NYU ADRF was set up by the Census Bureau to inform the decision making of the Commission on Evidence based Policy (and was highlighted in their final report). It was designed to build on the lessons learned from establishing the Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics (and Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics) program – mainly that state and local access to and use of linked data was essential to the creation of high value products. Access to the ADRF was made possible by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Overdeck Family Foundation through a set of scholarships to government agency staff.
During a course enabling staff from state agencies to get a feel for the ADRF, agency staff used exit and admission data on ex-offenders from the Illinois Department of Corrections, welfare recipient data from the Illinois Department of Human Services, and unemployment insurance wage records from the Illinois Department of Employment Security to answer questions including “what is the effect of neighborhood characteristics and transportation on the earnings and employment outcomes of ex-offenders and welfare recipients and their subsequent recidivism or exit from welfare?”
Moving forward, agency staff will be able to work with one another to determine their own research projects. More information is available on the Coleridge Initiative website. You can also email Julia Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org.