Policymakers are increasingly interested in using administrative data to address pressing, policy-relevant questions. The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), for instance, issued a memo in 2014 that encouraged agencies to use and share administrative data and provided guidance related to using administrative data for statistical purposes (M-14-06). Building on this, the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focused its 2015 Innovative Methods meeting on the promises and challenges of using administrative data in social policy research.
This brief is based on a panel presentation at that meeting, Gaining Access and Maintaining Confidentiality. The purpose of this brief is to provide an overview of the multiple aspects of access to consider when using administrative data for social policy research. It includes discussion of access to data, importance of relationships, considering and valuing both confidentiality and access to data, and building capacity for the use of administrative data. As an overview, it is intended to raise awareness of issues rather than extensively describe access issues or offer strategies for overcoming challenges in accessing data. Multiple other resources are available regarding the use of administrative data. One example is the Child Care and Early Education Research Connections Working with Administrative Data webpage, where administrative data resources are summarized and updated quarterly. (Author introduction)