In Memoriam: Katherine K. Wallman, former Chief Statistician of the United States
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A Tribute to Katherine K. Wallman
NORC mourns the passing of Katherine K. Wallman, who served as Chief Statistician of the United States from 1992 to 2017, providing policy oversight and coordination for the federal government’s many statistical agencies.
Wallman brokered major interagency decisions about standards for data on race and ethnicity and championed improvements in statistical literacy. She also played a pivotal role in passing the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA), which standardized confidentiality protections for U.S. federal government statistical agencies.
“She really cared about transparency and establishing processes that included public participation and feedback,” said NORC senior fellow Susan Schechter, who worked in Wallman’s office from 1999 to 2006. “She also believed strongly in the value of interagency coordination and cooperation and had a real knack for bringing people together to work on hard problems and come up with sound solutions that improved data quality and accessibility.”
A fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) since 1983 and its president in 1992, Wallman also chaired the United Nations Statistical Commission from 2004 to 2005 and the Conference of European Statisticians from 2003 to 2007. Her unwavering commitment to statistical integrity and accessibility of official statistics earned her several prestigious awards, including the ASA’s 2007 Founders Award.
“She did a marvelous job in a very challenging position,” said NORC distinguished senior fellow Norman Bradburn. “In addition to successfully coordinating the efforts of a decentralized federal statistical system, she was the voice of the statistical community across several presidential administrations. She championed the policy value of sound statistical evidence and defended the budget appropriations that evidence required.”
The entire NORC family offers its condolences to Wallman’s family and friends and the broader statistical community. May we continue to draw inspiration from her leadership.
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NORC at the University of Chicago conducts research and analysis that decision-makers trust. As a nonpartisan research organization and a pioneer in measuring and understanding the world, we have studied almost every aspect of the human experience and every major news event for more than eight decades. Today, we partner with government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world to provide the objectivity and expertise necessary to inform the critical decisions facing society.
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