The National Secure Data Service Demonstration (NSDS-D) project is required under the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act to inform a governmentwide effort on strengthening data linkage and data access infrastructure. This effort facilitates statistical activities in support of increased evidence building for the American public. The goal of the NSDS-D project is to inform efforts for developing a shared services model that would streamline and innovate data sharing and linking to enable decision-making at all levels of government and in all sectors.
A National Secure Data Service, or NSDS, was first introduced by the bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking in 2016, and later envisioned through specific recommendations provided by the Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building in 2022.
The demonstration project will inform whether an NSDS will be established in the future. The goal is to pilot potential services, technologies, techniques, and shared services that could be used within a potential NSDS. The focus is on novel research collaborations, data linkage methodologies, and privacy preserving technologies and techniques.
On 9 August 2022, President Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 into law. The legislation authorized the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish an NSDS Demonstration project operated directly or via a contract by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). Per Section 10375, the NSDS-D project shall
- Be established in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget and the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act of 2020 Interagency Committee
- Align with recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building
- Engage with federal and state agencies in support of evidence building
- Use processes, systems, and technologies to protect restricted data, statistical products, privacy, and confidentiality under the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2018
- Ensure transparency to the American public
Oversight and Partnerships
NCSES, as delegated by the NSF Director, is the responsible entity for fulfilling the NSDS-D project requirements outlined in Section 10375 of the CHIPS and Science Act.
To enable a wide range of perspectives and to ensure a variety of stakeholder needs are accounted for, NCSES is partnering with several federal and state government agencies as well as other organizations to help guide its implementation of the NSDS-D project.
Privacy and Confidentiality
A critical component of the NSDS-D project is ensuring that the public’s data are kept confidential. NCSES, a principal statistical agency within the Federal Statistical System, adopts a common framework for protecting statistical data and disseminating statistical data securely and equitably, in accordance with the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2018, the Office of Management and Budget Statistical Directives, the Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, and other provisions within the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018.
Privacy protections are a central component of the NSDS-D authorizing legislation
- Only technology and systems that incorporate privacy protection measures are used
- Confidential data are only accessed by authorized individuals
- Personally identifiable information is not divulged
- Privacy risks to individuals are minimized
The demonstration project is exploring innovative ways to protect data while expanding its access. Methods being explored include
- Disclosure limitation methodologies to reduce the risk of reidentification
- Privacy preserving record linkages that leverage encryption techniques
- Secure multi-party computing that can support the production of tabulations without direct data access
- Use of synthetic data to provide an alternative to confidential data access
The demonstration project will continue to explore new and emerging technologies and methods to ensure that privacy and confidentiality remains a central component of a potential, future data service.
America's Data Hub Idea Bank
Calling all ideas!
Submit ideas here
America's Data Hub Consortium (ADC) is inviting all members of the public to join us in contributing insights to our new Idea Bank. By sharing your ideas, you can directly inform future project solicitations and activities by ADC, and shape a potential NSDS.
The NSDS-D Project and America's Data Hub
Many NSDS-D activities are being implemented and tested through the America’s Data Hub Consortium, or ADC. The ADC was established in 2021 by NCSES as a public-private partnership to address key research questions through innovative solutions in a rapid and streamlined acquisitions process. Topics include but are not limited to data linkage and privacy preserving technologies. Given this overlap with the goals of the NSDS-D project, the ADC is being leveraged to inform the requirements under the demonstration project. Additional implementation modes may be used in the future as the demonstration project evolves. For more information about the ADC, please refer to the ADC website.
A list of demonstration projects is below. These projects were supported through two funding mechanisms by way of Congress and the Office of Management and Budget. This list will be updated as projects are initiated or completed.
Foreign Born Scientists and Engineers in the Workforce (Active)
An evidence-building project to understand the availability and demand for global science and engineering training and talent. This project explores data sources and linkage and conducts analyses to investigate return on investment for science and engineering talent trained in the United States.
Privacy Preserving Technologies Phase 1: Environmental Scan (Active)
An environmental scan of organizations, both within and outside of government, to understand the current landscape of privacy preserving technologies for the protection of persons, data, and systems that contribute to the use of confidential data, including both individual-level and business data, for evidence building and policymaking.
Data Protection Toolkit Use Case Analysis (Active)
This project conducts a use case analysis of the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology's Data Protection Toolkit. This use case analysis will identify successful use cases and potential enhancements to the Toolkit for enabling access to federal data assets while protecting confidentiality.
National Center for Health Statistics: National Vital Statistics System Modernization—New Opportunities for Interoperable Data (Active)
This project highlights new opportunities for the use of interoperable health data to support timely research and public health surveillance. The results will inform planning for both the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) and a potential future National Secure Data Service (NSDS), as well as the broader data and evidence ecosystem, by highlighting the possible applications for interoperable data, the level of data access needed for these uses, and the related privacy and confidentiality implications.
Secure Compute Environment Scan (SCE) (Active)
An environmental scan of secure computing environments within the federal government as it relates to data sharing and privacy and confidentiality restrictions within multiple statues. This scan will include compilation of legal requirements under different statuses for data protection and security in support of IT infrastructure to store and use confidential data.
Utilizing Privacy Preserving Record Linkage to Link Data from Two Federal Statistical Agencies (National Center for Health Statistics, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics) (Active)
Development of a proof of concept to deploy a privacy preserving record linkage tool to link and share data from two federal statistical agencies. This tool will inform data linkage and sharing for a National Secure Data Service.
Evaluation of Noise Infusion for Large-Scale Demographic Sample Survey (Survey of Doctorate Recipients) (Active)
Evaluation of the use of noise infusion for a demographic survey as a possible privacy-preserving method in the use of federally confidential data. This research will inform the National Secure Data Service Demonstration project by exploring noise infusion for a sample survey and assessing the disclosure protections and quality considerations for the resulting estimates.
Models for a Data Concierge Service for a National Secure Data Service (Active)
An exploration of models for a data concierge service that can offer technical assistance to individuals seeking access to federal data within a National Secure Data Service, including answering general questions, identifying confidential data assets that meet the individual’s evidence building needs, and supporting the development of evidence-building proposals to apply for access to confidential data.
Utilizing Privacy Preserving Record Linkage with Parent Agency Data and Statistical Agency Data to Inform Programs and Policies (Active)
An investigation of the use of privacy preserving record linkage methods to connect survey and administrative data in a secure environment as a guide for future interagency data sharing and linking initiatives. This project will also demonstrate development of a data sharing agreement between a federal statistical agency and its parent agency.
Creating and Validating Synthetic Data (National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Census Bureau; Annual Business Survey) (Active)
A test and comparison of methods for creating synthetic data to support a tiered access model, exploring the use of synthetic data for evidence building, and testing the use of verification metrics in validating estimates produced from synthetic data. This research will help to inform the National Secure Data Service Demonstration project and support tiered access through the development of a publicly available dataset that can be accessed without the current barriers to restricted use data.
Federated Data Usage Platform (DUP) (Active)
Research to develop a robust and sustainable framework to enable the federal data ecosystem to better understand the uses of federal data in support of a potential, future National Secure Data Service (NSDS). This research will produce possibilities for a future, state-of-the-art, updatable publicly accessible platform that provides information on federal data usage as part of the NSDS Demonstration project.
Creating and Validating Synthetic Data (National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics; Survey of Earned Doctorates) (Active)
A test and comparison of methods for creating synthetic data to support a tiered access model, exploring the use of synthetic data with a demographic survey for evidence building, and testing the use of verification metrics in validating estimates produced from synthetic data. This research will help to inform the National Secure Data Service Demonstration project and support tiered access through the development of a publicly available dataset that can be accessed without the current barriers to restricted use data.
Expanding Equitable Access to Restricted Use Data through Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (FSRDCs) (Active)
An environmental scan of user demand and strategies for expanding access to the restricted use data made available through Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (FSRDCs) beyond the traditional base of users at high research activity (R1) universities. The results of this project will inform planning for both the FSRDCs and a potential future National Secure Data Service by providing critical evidence on unmet needs, service gaps, and resource demands required to expand access to restricted use data to a wider community for evidence-based decision-making.