“You can’t have a democratic society, without having a good data base.”

By plackie@carleton.edu | April 9, 2015

Janet L. Norwood, former US Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner, dies

On the passing of this iconic defender of the neutrality of public data, I am struck how important Janet Norwood was to establishing a sound path for data advocacy as well as reminded of how necessary it is to have continuous education about this topic.  In fact, swimming in ready-access to data as we are today, it’s especially important that we, as data professionals, remain alert to and defend a couple of aphorisms:

  • Stay true to the facts; Zealously retain non-partisan associations in the recording of all public data, analyses and reporting.
  • Use it for GOOD – never for EVIL” Encourage the use of public data for the public good.

 In reviewing the memorials to Janet Norwood, a couple of succinct statments seem apt (in addition to the heading of this post).

Simply put, all U.S. policy makers, businesses and families can make better decisions every day because of Janet Norwood’s work at B.L.S.~Erica L. Groshen, the bureau’s current commissioner

“I believe strongly,” said economist Janet L. Nowood, “that an objective, scientifically created system of data is essential for a democracy to flourish."~ Democracy’s Statistician: Janet L. Norwood, 1923-2015 BySocial Science Space.

~Paula Lackie (Carleton College & cochair of the IASSIST Professional Development Committee)