Compendium of Administrative Data Sources for Self-Sufficiency Research

| Daron Holman, Alexandra Pennington, Kelsey Schaberg, Andrew Rock

The Compendium of Administrative Data Sources for Self-Sufficiency Research is an effort to describe promising administrative data sources for evaluations of economic and social interventions. The Compendium was created as part of the Assessing Options to Evaluate Long-Term Outcomes Using Administrative Data (LTO) project funded by the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (ACF/OPRE) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Many social programs are designed to have long-term benefits for participants, but evaluations of these programs rarely track outcomes in the long term. Administrative data present a potentially low-cost opportunity for tracking long-term effects. Efforts related to making these data more accessible for such purposes are gaining traction, with many federal initiatives emerging to support leveraging these data for research, particularly in light of the recommendations by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking.

The LTO project is helping ACF/OPRE understand the feasibility of linking data sets for a set of major evaluations. Evaluations and administrative data sources are being selected and reviewed to assess the feasibility of linking data for long-run follow-up. This Compendium is part of this project and is intended to provide information on administrative sources to facilitate linkages to measure impacts of social programs in both the medium and long terms.

There is growing interest in making better use of administrative data — which are collected primarily to manage programs — to support research on program effectiveness and evidence-based policymaking. The first step toward this goal is to better understand (1) the types and extent of data available and where they reside; (2) the process for obtaining data access; and (3) the feasibility for linking these data sources with evaluation data to measure the impact of government-funded programs. This Compendium includes such information for a variety of national, federal, and state-level administrative data sources that can be enlisted to support this federal priority.

Data sources are grouped and presented as follows:

  • National and federal data sources, which are typically focused on a single domain but have national coverage
  • State-level sources, which cover a single domain within the state
  • Data centers, which maintain information across multiple domains (for example, employment, health, public assistance, and so forth) and from multiple data sources, and provide environments for the secure analysis of sensitive data.

Each part begins with background information as well as a glossary of terms that describe the types of information gathered (if available) about each data source.

This Compendium is not comprehensive. In the short term, it can help provide important reference material for data consumers, including government agencies and their research partners. With increased interest and use of administrative data, and policy changes affecting access to these data, this contribution should — in the long term — help to advance the development of a broader and sustainable repository of metadata on administrative data sources for self-sufficiency research.