Welcome to WiscRDC

WiscRDC is a branch of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Federal Statistical Research Data Center (FSRDC) network.

FSRDCs make available otherwise confidential microdata from the Census Bureau, the IRS, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Qualifying for access to data in the FSRDC requires Bureau approval of a research project that is not only scientifically rigorous but, crucially, satisfies the Bureau’s own need for feedback about the quality and coverage of its data and that of its partners in the FSRDC program.  A central responsibility of those who administer an FSRDC is to work with researchers to craft proposals that will be acceptable to the Bureau in both respects.

To conform to the law respecting the confidentiality of microdata gathered in federal censuses and surveys, individual researchers must be granted Special Sworn Status (SSS) by the Census Bureau.

Research Proposals

Proposals to use the data in an FSRDC are subject to very specific standards and the approval process can be time-consuming.  Researchers should begin with a meeting with the WiscRDC administrator, a Census Bureau employee who is trained to provide guidance to researchers on both proposal preparation and the suitability of FSRDC data for a particular project.

The Census Bureau will not approve a proposal that fails to satisfy the following criteria.  The proposed project must:

1. Provide benefit to Census Bureau programs.

2. Demonstrate scientific merit.

3. Require data that is available only in the FSRDC.

4. Be feasible given the nature and coverage of data available in the FSRDC.

5. Pose no risk of disclosure of confidential information.

Please contact Robert Thomas, the current WiscRDC administrator at robert.r.thomas@census.gov

Both the Census Bureau and the Minnesota RDC provide invaluable guidance for developing and submitting a research proposal.

About WiscRDC

The effort to found an FSRDC at UW-Madison was joined by faculty and other researchers from several Social Science departments and centers, the Wisconsin School of Business, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, and departments and centers in the School of Medicine and Public Health and in the School of Human Ecology. As this list of sponsors and interested parties suggests, the FSRDC promises new opportunities for ground-breaking interdisciplinary cooperation.

This presentation by Prof. Brent Hueth from WiscRDC’s kickoff event summarizes some of the background to the Center’s founding as well as the standards and requirements for getting access to the RDC and preparing research proposals.


Administratively, UW-Madison’s FSRDC is a branch of the Minnesota Census Research Data Center (MnRDC). The executive director of the UW-Madison FSRDC is Prof. Brent Hueth. The FSRDC’s Steering Committee also includes Professors Russ Coff (Wisconsin School of Business), John Mullahy (Dept. of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public Health), and Tim Smeeding (LaFollette School of Public Affairs).

Every FSRDC is administered by a Census employee who is responsible for the physical facility and for conferring with current and prospective researchers.  All proposals for use of FSRDC data should begin with an orientation meeting with the WiscRDC administrator and should be informed by the administrator’s advice all along the way to submission.

Please contact the WiscRDC administrator, Robert Thomas, with any questions (robert.r.thomas at census dot gov).


All WiscRDC projects are IRB conformant by default, unless research involves data external to the FSRDC network. Researchers wishing to bring external data into the FSRDC data environment must demonstrate IRB approval for the data in conjunction with their project proposal.

For questions about IRB issues around your RDC protocol, feel free to contact Steph Wilson,  stephanie.wilson@wisc.edu

Stay informed!

To keep up to date about the state of the Wisconsin FSRDC please subscribe to our email list. The list’s purpose is both to be informative and to solicit the views of local researchers about how the FSRDC can best serve its users. To subscribe, send a blank email to join-rdcresearch@lists.wisc.edu.
(To unsubscribe from the list send an email to leave-rdcresearch@lists.wisc.edu.)