ASA meets in New York – Behind the Scenes

ASA meets in New York – Behind the Scenes – American Statistical Association

This year, the American Statistical Association (ASA) held its 162nd Annual Meetings in New York City from August 11-15. Each year at these meetings, statisticians, mathematicians, economists, computer specialists, and other professionals share data, ideas, and research. ASA attendees can take part in a variety of paper presentations, caucus meetings, and section-sponsored activities.

Once again, SOI was represented by the work of many. In addition to SOI Director Tom Petska, representatives included Kevin Cecco, William Chen, Martha Eller, Emily Gross, Barry Johnson, Paul McMahon, Pete Sailer, Mike Weber, and Bill Wong. One session, organized by Tom Petska and entitled “Methodological and Analytical Advances in Tax Statistics,” was sponsored by the Section on Government Statistics and featured a majority of SOI personnel. Three SOI-sponsored papers were presented there:

[] “Using Auxiliary Information To Adjust for Non-Response in Weighting a Linked Sample of Administrative Records” by Barry Johnson and Paul McMahon. This paper describes the steps taken to produce sample weights for a linked file of decedent and beneficiary data collected from Federal Estate (Form 706) and Income (Form 1040) tax returns. Data from the Social Security Data Master One file, along with post-stratification and ratio raking, were used to help adjust for bias introduced by low match rates.

[] “Analysis of the 1998 Gift Tax Panel Study” by Martha Eller and Tamara Rib. This paper presented results of SOI’s first gift tax study in many years. Results included donor population demographics, asset composition of gifts, and the size and use of valuation discounts.

[] “Salaries and Wages and Deferred Income, 1989-1999” by Pete Sailer, Ellen Yau, Mike Weber, and Kurt Gurka. Pete presented results from matched files of tax returns, Forms W-2, Forms 5498, and age and gender information from the Social Security Administration.

The session also included a paper by Warren Hrung, from Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis, entitled “Credit Carryforward Utilization: The Adoption Tax Credit.”

Bill Wong spoke on “Using Bootstraps To Evaluate the Effect of Sample Size Reduction on Scoring System Performance,” in which data from the 1988 Taxpayers Compliance Measurement Program (TCMP) were used to explore the efficiency of various sample sizes that could be used to perform such studies in the future. His co-author was Chih-Chin Ho of the Research Division. Bill also attended Government Statistics Section Executive and Business meetings as an Assistant Editor (Webmaster). A main topic of discussion there was the low CD proceedings sales due to the change in format and lack of publicity. As a result, the price rose from $25 to $35.

Mike Weber co-presented a paper with Marianne Winglee of Westat on “Assessing Disclosure Protection for an SOI Public Use File,” in which various methods of subsampling and microaggregating high-income returns were explored. Additional co-authors on this paper were Mike Strudler of SOI and Richard Valliant, Jay Clark, and Yunhee Lim of Westat.

Three other SOI papers presented at the conference included:

[] “Proxies in Administrative Records Surveys” by Paul McMahon, who also chaired a session entitled “Economic Surveys” sponsored by the Section on Survey Research Methods. It included papers presented by former SOI Director Fritz Scheuren and former SOI staffers Susan Hinkins, Ryan Petska, and Glenn White.

[] “How the Quality of Responses the IRS Provides to Taxpayer Inquiries Is Measured,” written by Rachael Hoopengardner and presented by Kevin Cecco. It provides an overview of how IRS rates the quality of responses to taxpayer telephone inquiries and taxpayers in general. With the assistance of SOI, this process has been centralized, implemented, and improved. The results are captured on a data base that can be accessed by all persons associated with measuring quality. The paper also describes the historical development and standardization of the quality measuring process, as well as the future of quality measurement within the IRS.

[] “Some New Tables of the Largest Root of a Matrix in Multivariate Analysis: A Computer Approach from 2 to 6” by William Chen. Bill also served as chair of a session on “Statistical Methods in Computer Security.”

Emily Gross presented a poster session entitled, “Electronic Dissemination of Internal Revenue Service Locality Data.” Her colorful red, white, and blue posters provided information about SOI’s migration and ZIP code data. One of her handouts proved very successful indeed–a tax statistics card advertising the Statistical Information Services office with significant “IRS Tax Stats at a Glance” on the reverse.

Also noteworthy was the use of SOI’s portable display in the specially designated exhibit hall. SOI staff did double duty as presenters and display workers and were in good company with staff from other Government agencies, as well as software and book vendors. It was an excellent opportunity to show off our products and services and answer questions about SOI. One display item that proved quite popular was the latest volume in the IRS Methodology Report series, Special Studies in Federal Tax Statistics (2000-2001), formerly published under the title Turning Administrative Systems Into Information Systems.

Overall, the ASA annual meetings were a good showcase for the full spectrum of work now being done at SOI under the leadership of Tom Petska. Thanks go to all ASA presenters, co-authors, and staff behind the scenes who made the event so worthwhile.

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