Despite desire for shared data, Census Bureau stands on confidentiality law

State and local government officials would like to share data about addresses that the Census Bureau collects, but Title 13 of the U.S. Code forbids the information sharing. Some attendees at the Geospatial Summit, a conference presented by 1105 Government Information Group, raised that concern.

The Census Bureau issued its official response to the question today: "The Census Bureau is exploring various possibilities to work with local governments to maintain and update its address database in ways that are totally consistent with current Title 13 confidentiality guarantees.”

Stanley Rolark, chief of the Public Information Office at Census, said the statement was a response to an FCW article published on Sept. 13, based on comments made at the summit by Michael Ratcliffe, assistant division chief for geocartographic products in the bureau’s geography division.

In response to a question from the audience regarding the difficulty of sharing information with states under the law, Ratcliffe was quoted stating that the bureau was leaning toward endorsing a partial repeal of Title 13, for addresses only, for the purposes of improving the efficiency of sharing address information.

Ratcliffe was not available to clarify his statement on Sept. 14. However, another census official, speaking on background, said the census bureau has not officially held any discussions, nor has it been approached by any lawmakers, to consider, or endorse, an amendment of Title 13.

“There are no discussions happening [about changes to Title 13] at this time,” the official said in a phone interview on Sept. 14. “It has not come up. We are working within the confidentiality provisions and trying to find new opportunities to expand partnerships with state and local agencies."

Under the Census Address List Improvement Act of 1994, the bureau has been undertaking a number of projects that allow state and local agencies to participate in partnerships with the Census Bureau to leverage some of the advantages of census data, while remaining within Title 13 constraints.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group