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1) Standard Application Process (ResearchDataGov)
The federal statistical system is currently developing a standard application process (SAP) for applying for access to confidential data assets. When fully built, the SAP will serve as a “front door” to apply for permission to use protected data from any of the 16 federal statistical agencies and units for evidence building. In the following paragraphs, you will find important information about the SAP and how to participate in the development of this important evidence-building effort.

The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act) set forth an ambitious goal of creating a standardized process for applying to use federal data—including highly confidential data sets—for evidence-building purposes. Congress had several reasons for making it easier to find and apply for federal data assets—
-- Safely expanding access to and use of data, including administrative data, for evidence building can substantially improve public policies and programs
-- Evidence building is enhanced when data are available to staff at all levels of government, including state and local officials
-- Business and academic communities need timely access to high-quality data to develop insights and analytic tools that benefit citizens, policymakers, and the private sector

Currently, the federal statistical system uses a decentralized approach to apply for access to federal confidential data assets. Each agency has its own agency-specific application portal. There is no standardization across agencies in terms of application forms, determination criteria, or review timeframes. If an individual would like to apply for access to data assets from two different agencies, they would need to use two different application portals, which could include different application procedures.

When fully implemented, the SAP will create a single application portal for applying for access to federal confidential data assets from all federal statistical agencies and units. The SAP standardizes the application forms, determination criteria, and review timeframes across agencies when applying for access to any federal restricted-use data asset.

By streamlining data discovery and standardizing the application process, the SAP will promote civic engagement, increase transparency, and support private-sector decision-making, basic research, and policymaking at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels. Applicants will be able to

-- Browse a metadata inventory of confidential data assets
-- Determine whether the confidential data asset is appropriate for their use case
-- Track application status/progress and results

The SAP serves as a “single front door” for applying to access to restricted data for evidence-building projects with high public interest, such as

-- Analysis and evaluation of disparities and inequities in programs and policies
-- Exploration of links between employment services, post-secondary programs, and workforce outcomes
-- Examination of connections between pandemic benefits and extended unemployment
Phase 1: Development of a pilot portal
SAP Development Is Currently in Phase 2
Phase 2: Policy and technical development, requirements gathering, and metadata inventory implementation
Phase 3: The SAP of the Future

Stakeholder feedback is invaluable for creating a 21st century data portal. That’s why Congress asked the public to be involved in developing this unique tool. Make sure you have a voice in building a data portal for today’s needs. Here’s how to get involved:

Visit the updated portal with metadata from all 16 federal statistical agencies and units https://www.researchdatagov.org/
Communicate about the SAP to evidence users in your networks
Subscribe to the SAP listserv to receive e-blasts with the latest updates on the SAP rollout, requirements gathering, testing, or other feedback opportunities. To subscribe, send an e-mail to listserv@listserv.nsf.gov The text of the email must be in this format: subscribe [listname] [subscriber's name]; for example: subscribe SINGLEPORTAL Joe Smith
Email your insights or questions on the SAP to singleportal@nsf.gov
Schedule a presentation about the SAP for your organization

2) Sept 1 -- The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation (NSF), as the Standard Application Process (SAP) Program Management Office designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is announcing plans to establish a common form information collection. NCSES will request approval for an SAP Portal information collection as a Common Form to permit other federal agency users to streamline the information collection in coordination with OMB. Written comments on this notice must be received by October 31, 2022 to be assured of consideration.

This request is on behalf of the following federal statistical agencies and units, which may use the Common Form:

Bureau of Economic Analysis
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Census Bureau
Economic Research Service
Energy Information Administration
National Agricultural Statistics Service
National Center for Education Statistics
National Center for Health Statistics
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (Social Security Administration)
Statistics of Income Division (Income Revenue Service)
Microeconomic Surveys Unit (Federal Reserve Board)
Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (HHS)
National Animal Health Monitoring System (USDA)

The Evidence Act requires that each statistical agency or unit establish an identical application process. The Evidence Act further requires that federal statistical agencies establish common criteria for determining whether to approve an application for confidential data, timeframes for prompt determination, an appeals process for adverse determinations, and standards for transparency. In response to these requirements, the statistical agencies and units will operate a web-based portal (referred to as the SAP Portal) on behalf of OMB to provide the common application form to applicants.

At the recommendation of the ICSP, the SAP Policy establishes the SAP to be implemented by statistical agencies and units and incorporates directives from the Evidence Act. The policy is intended to provide guidance as to the application and review processes using the SAP Portal, setting forth clear standards that enable statistical agencies and units to implement a common application form and a uniform review process. The methods of collection outlined below are in accordance with the SAP Policy. The SAP Policy was submitted to the public for comment in January 2022 (87 FR 2459, 2022). The policy is currently under review and has not yet been finalized.

For the purpose of the SAP Policy, the application process begins with an applicant discovering a confidential data asset for which a statistical agency or unit is accepting applications to access for the purpose of building evidence and ends with the agency or unit's determination on whether to grant access. In the case of an adverse determination, the application process ends with the conclusion of an appeals process if the applicant elects to appeal the determination.

The SAP Portal is an application interface connecting applicants seeking data with a catalog of data assets owned by the federal statistical agencies and units. The SAP Portal is not a new data repository or warehouse; confidential data assets will continue to be stored in secure data access facilities owned and hosted by the federal statistical agencies and units. The Portal will provide a streamlined application process across agencies, reducing redundancies in the application process. This single SAP Portal will improve the process for applicants, tracking and communicating the application process throughout its lifecycle. This reduces redundancies and burden on applicants that request access to data from multiple agencies. The SAP Portal will automate key tasks to save resources and time, and will bring agencies into compliance with the Evidence Act statutory requirements.

Individuals begin the process of accessing restricted use data by discovering confidential data assets through the SAP data catalog, maintained by federal statistical agencies at https://www.researchdatagov.org/. Potential applicants can search by agency, topic, or keyword to identify data of interest or relevance. Once they have identified data of interest, applicants can view metadata outlining the title, description or abstract, scope and coverage, and detailed methodology related to a specific data asset to determine its relevance to their research.

While statistical agencies and units shall endeavor to include metadata in the SAP data catalog on all confidential data assets for which they accept applications, it may not be feasible to include metadata for some data assets (e.g., potential curated versions of administrative data). A statistical agency or unit may still accept an application through the SAP Policy even if the requested data asset is not listed in the SAP data catalog.

Individuals who have identified and wish to access confidential data assets will be able to apply for access through the SAP Portal when it is released to the public in late 2022. Applicants must create an account and follow all steps to complete the application. Applicants begin by entering their personal, contact, and institutional information, as well as the personal, contact, and institutional information of all individuals on their research team. Applicants proceed to provide summary information about their proposed project, to include project title, duration, funding, timeline, and other details including the data asset(s) they are requesting and any proposed linkages to data not listed in the SAP data catalog, including non-federal data sources. Applicants then proceed to enter detailed information regarding their proposed project, including a project abstract, research question(s), literature review, project scope, research methodology, project products, and anticipated output. Applicants must demonstrate a need for confidential data, outlining why their research question cannot be answered using publicly available information.

Upon submission of their application, applicants will receive a notification that their application has been received and is under review by the data-owning agency or agencies (in the event where data assets are requested from multiple agencies).

In accordance with the Evidence Act and the direction of the ICSP, agencies will approve or reject an application within a prompt timeframe. In some cases, agencies may determine that additional clarity, information, or modification is needed and request the applicant to “revise and resubmit” their application.

Draft information collection instrument and technical documentation requested from NSF by AEA.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-18847

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