Category Archives: Government Information – U.S.

Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA)

Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) is a web based interface that allows access and analysis of data. The data can be accessed from IPUMS or from  the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).

SDA allows you to:

  • Browse the codebook describing a datasetsda
  • Calculate frequencies or crosstabulation (with charts)
  • Do comparison of means
  • Calculate a correlation matrix
  • Compare correlations
  • Perform multiple regression
  • Perform logit/probit regression
  • List values of individual cases
  • Recode variables (into public work area)
  • Compute a new variable
  • List/delete derived variables
  • Download a customized subset

SDA allows you to analyze data at a level appropriate to your level of experience. SDA can only analyze datasets that reside on an SDA server. If you would like to test drive SDA, or to see if SDA is useful for your research check out their General Information page.

NHGIS Releases Standardized Tables for 2000 & 2010 Census

Comparing Census data from one decade the next can be difficult since boundaries  and variables can change. Trying to figure out those differences can be time consuming and sometimes frustrating. To help make this easier, NHGIS recently released 65 time series tables standardizing 2000 & 2010 100% count variables to the 2010 Census boundaries for ten geographic levels including tracts, block groups and 5 digit zip code tabulation areas (ZCTAs).

The tables are marked with a TS from within the Topic filter

NHGIS topic filter

Available standardized tables are listed in the Time Series Tables tab, and labeled Standardized to 2010 under the Geographic Integration column.


More information on time tables produced by the NHGIS can be found in the Data Documentation section, including both the geographically standardized tables as well as nominally integrated tables. The page includes methodology, and a PDF containing the complete list of variables within the time series datasets.

NYC 2010 Tract Boundaries

Map of 2010 Census Tracts

Click for interactive map

There are so many places to get Census boundaries, but often for NYC, the layers from NYC Dept of City Planning BYTES of the Big Apple are the most detailed.

However, these boundaries do not contain fields to join with some of the more popular sources for Census variables, either for the the 2010 Decennial Census or the American Community Survey 5-year estimates.

It doesn’t take too much time to create the various fields, and as you can see in the examples, these are very similar with just a couple minor variations. The boundaries are available in the data catalog.

NYC Planning uses a seven character ID identifying tracts, the first digit is the borough ID and the remaining six are the Census Bureau defined tract ID which is good if joining to the tables created by NYC Planning only.

Example Borough ID Tract ID
1010400 1 010400

The Census Bureau uses an 11 character ID for joining with data from the Census Bureau American FactFinder or Social Explorer

Example State Code County Code Tract ID
36061010400 36 061 010400

NHGIS uses a 14 character ID

Example Prefix State ID County ID Tract ID
G3600610010400 G 360 0610 010400

Infoshare uses a 10 character ID

Example County ID Tract ID
0610104.00 061 0104.00

The 2010 Tract boundaries can be joined with data from

  • The 2010 Decennial Census
  • American Community Survey (ACS) 5-yr estimates
    (except ’05-’09 which uses the 2000 boundaries!)

VOXGOV: New Database at the Libraries

A discovery platform with a wealth of analytics providing fast and reliable access to unfiltered original source news, media and information direct from all branches of the U.S. Federal Government. Voxgov enables researchers to easily find who in government is saying what and when on any subject throughout all phases of the political, legislative, and regulatory process.

Voxgov harvests nearly 9,500 U.S. Government web locations multiple times daily with new sites being continually added. In addition to an archive of over 9 million U.S. data files, voxgov adds an average of more than 13,000 files daily drawn from U.S. Government newsrooms (including: press releases, speeches, transcripts, stories, columns, etc.), Congressional Record, Federal Register and social media outlets, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Liberty and Security in a Changing World

In the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations of NSA spying, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, set up by President Obama has released its report. It outlines 46 recommendations.

Liberty and Security in a Changing World: Report and Recommendations of the President's Review Group on Intelligence



Census Bureau Honors Veterans

In honor of America's war veterans the Census Bureau has add a new web page to its InfoGraphics series.  The InfoGraphics series is part of the Bureau's efforts to use data visualization techniques to present in an easy to understand format the information contained in it data collection.

The Memorial Day Information Graphic is located at  It includes a timeline across major conflicts with counts of those who served and who died.  There are also graphics pertaining to the current makeup of our armed forces

Life Imitates Art?

I made the mistake of going to my local multiplex last weekend to see "Olympus Has Fallen" — a mistake not just because it wasn't a very good movie, but because now I get all confused when I read the New York Times. The Times seems to have taken a plot point from "Olympus" — North Korea makes a move to destroy the United States with nuclear missiles — and incorporated it into serious news stories. Or are these stories just cleverly written reviews/propaganda pieces for the movie, dumped on the front page, disguised as news? Like I said, I'm confused.

Luckily, the Columbia University Libraries provides me with many resources to help me verify the film/news story conundrum. First, I need some background information, as I'm not as familiar with Korean politics as I should be. The Library of Congress has a great resource for this purpose, North Korea: a Country Study. The Library of Congress also has a component, the Congressional Research Service, which acts as a reference librarian for Congress and issues reports on topics requested by Congress. Ordinarily, these reports are not available to the public, but the Libraries subscribes to a module of ProQuest Congressional, which gives us access to these valuable reports. A search of CRS reports for "North Korea" retrieves 499 reports, but since the database goes back to 1916 I will just sort by date and look at the most recent ones, with titles like North Korea's Nuclear Weapons: Technical Issues; North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation; and Foreign Assistance to North Korea. Finally, I do a search on CIAO: Columbia International Affairs Online, to find any research reports written by research institutes and NGOs.

Thanks to these databases, I have achieved clarity on this issue. Now, when did Morgan Freeman become Speaker of the House of Representatives??

Iraq in the Rearview Mirror — and Special Inspectors

Today the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued his final report, Learning from Iraq. "The body of this report reveals countless details about the use of more than $60 billion in taxpayer dollars to support programs and projects in Iraq. It articulates numerous lessons derived from SIGIR's 220 audits and 170 inspections, and it lists the varying consequences meted out from the 82 convictions achieved through our investigations." It serves as a follow-up to the previous comprehensive review of the rebuilding effort, Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience. The SIG has, in fact, issued quarterly and semiannual reports since since 2004.

In case you're wondering, there is a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which provides the same oversight and reporting function for U.S. activities in Afghanistan. What other Special Inspectors are out there, making sure that the taxpayers dollars are well spent? There is also a Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), which is "a sophisticated, white-collar law enforcement agency, … established by Congress in 2008 to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse linked to the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)." The remainder of the Federal government has to be satisfied with oversight of their activities by the (non-Special) Inspectors General which are present in each Cabinet department and many subsidiary agencies.

The Zero Dark Thirty File

"The poster for the blockbuster movie Zero Dark Thirty features black lines of redaction over the title, which unintentionally illustrate the most accurate take-away from the film – that most of the official record of the hunt for Osama bin Laden is still shrouded in secrecy." This is the opening statement from The Zero Dark Thirty File, a new collection of declassified U.S. government documents from the National Security Archive, posted on January 17, 2013. This briefing book contains "all of the available official documents on the mission," including the color card carried by the Navy SEALS which identified Bin Laden and his family members and the Tactical Site Exploitation and Cache Search Operations handbook, which outlined the procedures to be followed on such a mission. 

The documents included in this briefing book will likely be the only ones about the Bin Laden mission available to the general public until the 30 year declassification review and publication of more documents in the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) volumes.