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Securing Data With DataSwap:
Rockville Institute Provides Expertise

The Rockville Institute will provide support to the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences' (IES) Disclosure Review Board (DRB). The Institute will present a half-day seminar for IES staff on data swapping theory and practices. A full-day workshop will then be conducted for members of the DRB providing hands-on assistance in implementing the DataSwap software and how it can be used to effectively reduce swapping bias. The Institute will also provide expert consultation and advice on pre-release IES data files, including both longitudinal and cross-sectional files.

Preserving confidentiality and data quality is the goal of the DataSwap software. The need for such software has grown with the improvement of technology: As it becomes easier to process data, it becomes easier to identify participants, such as institutions, organizations, or even individuals. One solution is to remove a variable from the data, but this can compromise the data, making it less useful for important analyses. DataSwap overcomes this problem by switching out reported answers between some respondents with similar characteristics, such as region or socioeconomic status. The final data, therefore, reveals the same totals needed for comprehensive analysis but does not compromise the participant's confidentiality. "It's a way of protecting the quality of the data and doing minimal damage while revealing the data set," explains David Marker, PhD, project director.

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