Opening Up Evaluation Microdata: Balancing Risks and Benefits of Research Transparency

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The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an independent U.S. Government foreign aid agency, uses a data-based approach to select country partners, and design, monitor, and evaluate programs. With a commitment to transparency built into the MCC model as a means for accountability and learning, the agency has grappled with the ethical, legal, and practical issues related to public release of its evaluation microdata. In 2013, MCC identified key objectives for public release of its evaluation microdata: facilitating verification of evaluation results, maximizing data usability, and minimizing risk to survey respondents. The agency implemented a series of actions, including establishing a microdata dissemination mechanism; data protection principles; an internal Disclosure Review Board; procedures for restricted-access to low-risk data; and allocating staffing and resources to implement the data protection principles. The paper discusses MCC’s experience and concludes with a set of lessons learned about finding balance between benefits and risks when releasing evaluation microdata.

Sturdy, J., Burch, S., Hanson, H., & Molyneaux, J. (2017, March 3). Opening Up Evaluation Microdata: Balancing Risks and Benefits of Research Transparency.

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