Proposal Writing

The opportunity to perform statistical analysis on non-public Census microdata is granted once a research project proposal has undergone an extensive review process which evaluates a project’s disclosure risks, feasibility, scientific merit, and benefit to the Census Bureau. See below for the specific application processes related to using NCHS, AHRQ, BLS, and BEA data.

2019 ARDC Project Proposal Grant

Getting Started Developing a Proposal, Power Point Introduction (2012)

Outline of Steps in Proposal Submission

Proposals that use non-public Census microdata are submitted to the ARDC administrator before being submitted to CES. Researchers must consult with the ARDC Administrator about the content and form of a research proposal. The proposal review process is lengthy and rigorous, and the administrator can assist researchers in determining data availability and in preparing worthy proposals.

  1. Read RDC research proposal guidelines.
  2. Register your interest in developing an RDC proposal at ResearchDataGov: This is the main application portal for using restricted data in the FSRDCs.  Your preliminary application will be sent to the ARDC Administrator, who will follow up with you to discuss your proposed project ideas.
  3. Work with the ARDC Administrator in developing your final proposal.
  4. The final proposal consists of the three separate documents listed below:
      • Abstract of the proposal
      • Project description (full proposal)
      • Statement of benefits to the Census Bureau
  5. After the final proposal has been submitted to CES, researchers should expect to wait a minimum of six months before beginning actual research at the ARDC. Contact the ARDC Administrator for an update on your proposal status.

Obtaining Special Sworn Status

Qualified researchers are required to obtain Special Sworn Status prior to beginning research at the secure Atlanta Research Data Center. To obtain Special Sworn Status, researchers must be fingerprinted, make a sworn statement in the presence of a notary public, and provide additional information for background checks. Once completed, this process establishes the researcher as a temporary uncompensated employee of the U.S. Census Bureau. While working on projects at the ARDC, researchers should consider themselves to be temporary uncompensated Census Bureau employees.

Once approval has been granted and the researcher has gained Special Sworn Status, statistical analysis must be performed within the secure ARDC lab at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Helpful Proposal Links


Proposals using NCHS, AHRQ, BLS, and BEA Data must meet their respective proposal guidelines (see links below).

IRB Policy

Every researcher is responsible for satisfying the Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements of their own institution.  Please follow this link for further guidelines.