NISS Is Part of a Team that Constructs the Census Bureau’s Synthetic Longitudinal Business Database

The United States Census Bureau announced in March that it is releasing its Synthetic Longitudinal Business Database Beta Data Product (SynLBD) for use by the general public. The was produced by the Census Bureau in collaboration with a team of collaborators that includes the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS), Duke University, Cornell University, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Research statistician Satkartar (Saki) Kinney led the NISS effort, under an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) agreement between NISS and the Census Bureau.

The purpose of SynLBD is to provide users access to a longitudinal business data product that can be used outside of secure Census Bureau facilities. The SynLBD contains synthesized information on establishments' employment and payroll, as well as their birth and death years and actual industrial classification. The synthetic data are generated by fitting models to the confidential data and using these to simulate the replacement values. The goal is to preserve broad analyses in the data while protecting the confidentiality of individual establishments.

According to NISS Director Alan Karr, “Within the data confidentiality world, establishment data are more problematic than household or individual data, especially because large establishments are so easy to recognize. Although the nature of the difficulties is still emerging, longitudinal data are proving to be challenging in multiple ways, especially when there are ongoing releases of data. What Saki and her collaborators, who include Jerome Reiter of Duke, her doctoral advisor, are doing is leading to revolutionary new data products.”

Researchers and others interested in using the SynLBD product may apply for a free user account on the Cornell University Virtual RDC.  For more information, visit the SynLBD website at

About NISS
The National Institute of Statistical Sciences was established in 1990 by the national statistics societies and the Research Triangle universities and organizations, with the mission to identify, catalyze and foster high-impact, cross-disciplinary and cross-sector research involving the statistical sciences. NISS is dedicated to strengthening and serving the national statistics community, most notably by catalyzing community members’ participation in applied research driven by challenges facing government and industry. NISS also provides career development opportunities for statisticians and scientists, especially those in the formative stages of their careers. In particular, NISS has appointed more that 70 postdoctoral fellows with graduate training in statistics, computer science, mathematics, environmental sciences, psychometrics and transportation. NISS is located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

For more information about NISS, go to the website You can also learn more about NISS by following our Twitter account, @NISSSAMSI, join the NISS groups on LinkedIn and on Facebook.

Monday, May 9, 2011 by Jamie Nunnelly