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To access the RDC, your project must be approved by the Census Bureau. Once approved, you will receive special sworn status. The information on this page will give you important information about getting started and applying.

If you are familiar with this process and at the stage where you’re ready to submit a project proposal, please contact the RDC early in the process for guidance.

Who is eligible to use an RDC?

We work with researchers in economics, business, public health, demography, sociology, medicine, statistics, criminology, and many other disciplines who want to use restricted-access microdata to address their research questions.

Common users of the RDC include graduate students, faculty/researchers, and outside academic researchers (e.g. RTI).

What kind of data is available in an RDC?


Datasets available at the RDC are created from censuses, surveys, and administrative data. Several federal agencies provide restricted data to researchers through the FSRDCs, including:

  • U.S. Census Bureau,
  • National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ),
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
  • National Crime Victimization Survey
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES)
  • And others

Agencies may enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau at any time to share their data in the FSRDCs. You can find the most comprehensive up-to-date list at the Census Bureau website.

What kind of data is available in an RDC?

What kinds of questions can I answer with RDC data?

  • Using data from the NHIS about a child’s kindergarten eligibility, a researcher looked at the effects of maternal labor supply on child health
  • The effects of hurricanes on migration: Geocoded data on hurricane damage matched to ACS data.
  • The social context of Spanish/English bilingualism in the 2nd and 3rd generation: geocoded data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation matched to contextual data from the ACS

What are the research requirements for using an RDC?

The Census Bureau provides research requirements and steps for developing and submitting a research proposal at the TRDC. You may also want to review active and completed projects that have used restricted-access microdata.

Other agencies may have different requirements for their respective datasets. Contact us and we’ll help you determine what the requirements are based on the data you’d like to use.

What is needed for an RDC proposal?

The application process for access to data in the FSRDCs is evolving. Currently, Federal statistical agencies each have their own application process and review and approval procedures for providing access to data. This page outlines the preliminary proposal steps and final proposal submission you will have to complete.

Please contact us early in the process

After reviewing available datasets and overview of the proposal process, please contact us about your prospective project. Proposal guidelines vary by agency. We’ll walk you through the steps of the process of submitting your proposal.


Learn about the application process and proposal guidelines >>