Council Minutes
June 20-22, 1997

Council Participants: Kenneth Bollen, John Garcia, Ann Gray, Charles Hirschman, Margaret Levi, Edward Nelson, Carole Shammas (Chair), Elizabeth Stephenson, Wendy Watkins, Halliman Winsborough.

Council not able to participate: Suzanne Bianchi, Heinz Eulau, Norval Glenn, Kent Jennings, Warren Miller, Samuel C. Patterson.

ICPSR Staff participants: Zack Allen, Erik Austin, Nancy Fultz, Peter Granda, John Gray, Hank Heitowit, Peter Joftis, Mary Morris, Richard Rockwell, Pamela Schwarzmann, Mary Vardigan, Janet Vavra.

Staff not able to participate: Chris Dunn, Michelle Humphres.

Additional participants: Rodney Green, Howard University.


Report of the Administration and Governance Committee


The Committee recommended the adoption of the OhioLink membership agreement, although there was some debate over the voting rights of the community colleges. It was suggested that the issue of voting rights for the community colleges be set aside for now, and that the issue be taken up in the future -- perhaps through the formation of a new membership category. Paragraphs 3.2 and 3.8 of the agreement were changed to show that the representation of community colleges is under discussion. Seven Council members approved the modified agreement and two opposed it.

Education Partnerships

The resolution on Education Partners was modified to substitute "educational products" for the phrase "workbooks and textbooks" wherever it occurs in the resolution. The section of the resolution that addresses the annual fee was also modified because Microcase will pay a maximum of $40,000 over five years. Additional modifications to the resolution limit Microcase to 200 data sets per year and specify that some data sets cannot be made available outside the academic membership of ICPSR. The modified resolution and the suggested amendment to the Bylaws passed unanimously.

Report of the ICPSR Nominations Committee

The ICPSR Nominations Committee met on Friday (June 20th) night to select the nominees for the next Council election to be held in October 1997. The Nominations Committee is made up of all outgoing members of Council plus two non-Council members appointed by the Chair. The Council members on the committee are: Suzanne Bianchi (University of Maryland at College Park), John Garcia (University of Arizona), Ann Gray (Cornell University), Charles Hirschman (University of Washington), Samuel Patterson (Ohio State University), and Carole Shammas (Chair, University of California at Riverside.)

The non-Council members are Margaret Hedstrom (University of Michigan) and Rodney Green (Howard University). All committee members except Bianchi, Patterson and Hedstrom attended the meeting. ICPSR staff to the committee are Richard Rockwell, Henry Heitowit, and Janet Vavra.

In addition to identifying candidates for the six new members of Council to be elected, the committee recommends candidates for the next Council chair. The new Chair is chosen from the remaining Council members who will serve into the next term.

On Sunday (June 22nd) morning, the Nominations Committee reported back to the full Council with a recommendation for the next Council Chair and a slate of candidates and alternates for Council members. Among the professional fields for which candidates and alternates were presented were: history, political science, economics, data and information management, and statistics.

The Council approved the candidates and alternates. It was noted that the individuals nominated would now be contacted to see if they would be willing to run for Council. In the meantime, all attending the meeting were asked not to reveal the names of the nominees until the potential candidates had been contacted and had agreed to run for election.

Membership Relations Committee

Additional agenda item

Wendy Watkins added an item to the agenda regarding the language of ICPSR's travel reimbursement policy for the upcoming OR meeting. The policy currently states that ORs coming from other countries will be reimbursed for 50 percent of their travel from the U.S. port of entry. This is misleading for Canadians, who have always been reimbursed as if coming from any U.S. city. This is still the policy, and the language on the website will be clarified for Canadian ORs.

OR Meeting

The committee noted that an important goal for the upcoming OR Meeting in October is to promote as much interaction as possible among ORs, staff, and Council.

Most panelists have been contacted and have accepted, and several Council members will be participating on panels this year. Martha Riche, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, has agreed to deliver the banquet address on Saturday night; her topic will be the Year 2000 Census.

Wendy suggested that we ask Dick Campbell, who is scheduled to give a presentation on "Using Multiple Data sets in the Study of Aging," to contact Betty Havens of the University of Winnipeg. She recently gave a talk on the same topic and could possibly participate in the session with Dick.

There needs to be clarification of the description of the Pre conference Workshop, possibly with examples of what will be discussed.

Technical demonstrations should not be held concurrently with a reception on Friday night, or attendance at the demos will be limited. Also, we should emphasize that staff will be speaking during the Welcome Session on Friday from 1:00-3:00 p.m.

We don't yet know which days Council will meet.

Access for University of Michigan

The Council approved this experiment to give access to ICPSR data for the entire U-M campuses earlier this year, but project start-up is contingent on U-M's hiring a social science librarian, which has not yet happened. The committee decided that we should wait to see how the U-M project proceeds before drafting letters of invitation to other schools to participate in the experiment.

Change to Bylaws

ICPSR receives a number of inquiries every year from for-profit organizations interested in ICPSR membership; the proposed change to the Bylaws would permit ICPSR to provide access (but not voting rights) to these kinds of organizations.

The committee suggested that the proposed fee schedule be modified to specify that organizations with 50 or more, but fewer than 500 (rather than 1,000), professional employees pay Category A dues and that smaller organizations pay Category B dues.

There was some question, however, about whether the number of professional employees is a meaningful distinction. We want to come up with some way of measuring the size of these organizations that is similar to how we categorize universities. Should we just count the number of analysts at these establishments? We want to be able to generate memberships from individual units within large organizations.

An alternative would be to charge all for-profits Category A fees. Another possibility would be to charge according to usage.

John Garcia moved to accept the amendment to the Bylaws and to recommend that staff report back in the fall on a pricing structure, since that is really a separate issue. Ann Gray seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

Survey of ORs

There were several suggestions for revisions to the draft survey:

  • Include information about category of membership and size of institution. Determining the level of satisfaction in different categories will help in marketing memberships. Include also whether the institution is a member of a federation.
  • Determine whether responsibilities for handling ICPSR data are shared on campus, and sample DRs as well as ORs.
  • Split questions that ask about satisfaction with more than one service or product, e.g., Questions 1, 6, 21.
  • Add "Less than $100" to Question 19 about paying for distance learning.
  • Move open-ended questions that we really want a response to closer to the beginning of the instrument.
  • Rather than asking for a list of data sets obtained from sources other than ICPSR, ask for the percentage of total data acquired that an organization obtains from ICPSR.
  • Under Administration and Governance, add a question about satisfaction with the structure of Council elections.
  • If possible, link satisfaction levels with annual usage statistics.
  • Add a question on how ORs justify the annual ICPSR dues.
  • Add a question on how many users ORs serve annually.
  • Attach a cover letter that describes the intent of the survey and urges cooperation by all ORs.
  • Administer the survey early in the fall term to have preliminary results by the OR meeting.

OhioLink Proposal

The committee's view was that this venture is a new frontier for ICPSR and should be termed a pilot program as we are interested in gauging the impact on workloads for ICPSR.

This alliance can be beneficial both for ICPSR and for OhioLink and will help ICPSR expand institutional memberships and reach out to community colleges. Fees for community colleges are purposely set low to encourage their participation in ICPSR.

If community colleges are included in the calculation, it appears that each OhioLink institution is paying significantly less than federation members. However, fees for OhioLink are actually set 30 percent higher than for federations: if all Ohio public and private schools were in a federation, they would pay $104,000, but we are asking $134,000.

Currently it is thought that community colleges may at first not use much data, but we may be underestimating demand. Is $1000 a realistic fee for community colleges?

Other states interested in an arrangement like OhioLink will need to demonstrate that the proper infrastructure is in place before negotiations can proceed.

Of the three proposals outlining ways that OhioLink could contribute toward the cost of scanning paper documentation, the committee endorsed #1 (sharing the cost of scanning with OhioLink) and #2 (having OhioLink hire a scanner at ICPSR) for further exploration.

Membership Recruitment

The recruitment drive, which targeted mainly Category B institutions (Carnegie Doctoral Institutions 1 and 2), was only moderately successful in that it generated only three serious membership inquiries. Membership is stable and growing in some categories, but not in Category B. We are expanding internationally, and two new HBCUs are joining under the Mellon grant: Florida A & M and Cheney State in Pennsylvania. Mellon funds will be exhausted after these two schools join.

Another group we possibly should target is Native Americans, but we don't yet know how to serve this group effectively. We might also explore other schools with high minority populations through groups such as the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and other counterparts to the HBCUs.

The OhioLink proposal holds promise in terms of membership recruitment; if other states follow the OhioLink model, we could see a huge increase in the number of schools with access to ICPSR resources.

Involvement of Members in ICPSR Activities

The committee endorsed the goal of fostering further involvement in ICPSR by member schools. It should be fairly easy for ICPSR to facilitate acquiring members' scanned documentation, SAS/SPSS data definition statements, and instructional materials, and this would enhance data use.

Other suggestions endorsed

  • Participation in the CESSDA catalog initiative should be pursued.
  • The survey should provide useful information in terms of how ORs publicize ICPSR data availability on their campuses.
  • ICPSR could supply brief monthly summaries of new developments for inclusion in campus newsletters.
  • Links to the professional organizations could be provided on the website.
  • A mirror archive in Europe would be extremely helpful given their problems in connecting to U. S. sites.

The committee endorsed moving forward on the suggestions that could be implemented easily, with a focus on acquiring scanned documentation, SAS/SPSS data definition statements, and instructional materials; the catalog initiative; and the promotion of ICPSR by ORs as representatives of the organization.

End-user Survey

Creating a sampling frame for the population of end users is difficult. ICPSR could use the Citation Index to generate a list of researchers using ICPSR data, which would pick up citations from the major journals. We could also look at NSF grants. Unfortunately, many researchers do not include citations to lCPSR data they have used in their articles. Journal editors should be contacted to enforce rigorous standards in this regard. We also want to somehow get to researchers not using ICPSR data who should have that option, and this is more complicated.

After the OR survey, we should enlist ORs' help in conducting the end-user survey. Also, IASSIST is developing an end-user survey that we should look at.

Report of the Computing and Technical Services Committee

The Committee met June 20 from 1:00-3:00 and June 21 from 8:30-10:15. Attending the meetings were John Gray, Ann Gray, Mary Morris, Richard Rockwell (part), Janet Vavra, and Hal Winsborough.

The committee had a very full agenda, and not all items on the agenda were covered. Below is a list of the topics that were discussed during the course of the meetings of the committee.

Status Report for Computing and Network Services (CNS)

John Gray reported that, except for minor changes in the configuration of machines and the addition of a digital linear tape (DLT) backup system, little has changed in the core CNS hardware configuration from a year ago. Full staffing has still not been implemented but should be done shortly. There is a plan for periodic upgrades of the computing and networking environment. In addition to the DLT system, CNS acquired additional disc space, personal computers, and scanners. This year CNS plans to acquire an uninterruptible power system (UPS) as well as additional disc space, another DLT system, a small server to handle the demands of the SAMHDA project, and additional CD-ROM writing equipment.

In FY 1997, there were delays in hiring and changes in computing charge-backs that led to under-spending the proposed budget. In FY 1998 there will be more changes in computing charge-backs so that the final total CNS budget item will be less than anticipated earlier this year.

Status Report for Archival Operations and Technical Support

Staff reported that preliminary statistics indicate that ordering has increased about 25% over last year. Over 90% of all orders from members arrived via either CDNet or the ICPSR website during the past fiscal year. The remaining 10% remains primarily from the first two months of the year when the University of Michigan mainframe was closing down. The staffs in Archival Operations and User Support now function in a totally different environment and with totally different procedures than were used even a year ago. They are now totally UNIX- and PC-based operations. Periodic releases on CD-ROM of new additions to the collection have taken place as planned; this service was started in February 1996. Over 70% of the members have elected to continue to receive these CD-ROM products.

The User Support staff has started generating SAS and SPSS data definition statements for some of the OSIRIS-only data collections (which are many of the first historical collections in the holdings). The first collection that is being prepared is ICPSR 0001 (United States Historical Election Returns, 1824-1968); the statements for that collection should be completed the end of July. This work is being done as time permits in addition to the other work the User Support staff is responsible for, so the timetable is not fixed. Additional conversions are expected to take place over the next few years. OSIRIS dictionaries will continue to be available for these data, but, SPSS and SAS statements are being generated to make using these collections on other platforms easier and to preserve the collections through the different changes in technology. The staff plans to eventually create statements for the collections which currently have only OSIRIS dictionaries and data files and to look toward also making multiple-punched data collections more compatible with current systems.

Archival copies of many collections continue to be preserved on IBM 3480 tape cartridges. However, some formats, such as PDF codebooks and some of the PC-based formats in which data are submitted are now being archived on digital linear tapes (DLT), since these formats do not lend themselves to archiving on 3480 cartridges. Staff training has not shown up in the budgets as this activity continues to be covered by the CPS training account, but staff training has been on-going. The group anticipates receiving personal computer upgrades later this year, because faster more powerful machines have become necessary for the staff to continue to keep pace with the demands made upon them.

National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure

Richard Rockwell reported on recent developments in high performance computing that may have some benefits for ICPSR. The University of Michigan is a "partner" in the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI).

The focus of NPACI activities are centered at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) with "teraflop-scale" systems there and mid-range systems at Michigan and other partner locations. In addition, there will be some funds coming to Michigan and of ISR and ICPSR will be involved in this. While the details for the coming year are not certain, it is expected there will be:

  1. a one-day session in the Summer Program to train social scientists to use high performance computing with some time on a machine;
  2. experiments with sampling/re-sampling techniques;
  3. a workstation for visualizations; and
  4. a network upgrade.

[Post Meeting Note: NPACI has a website at the following URL:]. The committee felt that ICPSR should approach this project with the usual caution and be wary of investments in its continued existence. This level of computing may be of the greatest value to statisticians and other high-level methodologists.

Grants and Contracts

For the SAMHDA grant CNS has created a site on the web and is working toward some extract and analysis applications. A half-time temporary staff member has been added to the Archival Operations group to work on activities related to the recent Department of Education grant.

Member Issues

Also discussed were some items dealing with member relations that have a direct influence on the activities of these groups. Dr. Gary King's request for handling of Publication Related Archive materials in political science was considered. Because of the anticipated value of this collection to the promotion of social science research, it was felt that special funding for this project should be available. ICPSR should work with Dr. King to locate such funding.

Educational Partners

Brief mention was made of the proposed Educational Partnerships, which is also under discussion by the Archival Development committee. There was discussion of formally placing such an arrangement into the ICPSR Bylaws.

Data Sources

Concern was raised about how users know whether they are working with an original file as received from ICPSR or whether they have a file that has been modified or changed some way by other users (i.e.,"authentication" of data sources.) Various means to achieve this, including encryption, were mentioned. There was no final resolution, but all agreed that with the new, more convenient ways of transferring data files, the source of any given file is of growing concern.

Committee Business

The Chair of the committee requested that the committee look at its structure and function, and that Council look at the committee system as it is currently configured. Concerns were:

  1. Do these three groups (Archival Operations, Computing and Network Services, and User Support) belong together in one committee?
  2. Issues taken up by other committees are frequently important to the groups represented here, and representatives of these groups should also be members of the other committees.
  3. What is the role of Council -- both as a governing body (oversight responsibilities) and as an advisory body (setting priorities) -- in dealing with technical issues about which it may have limited knowledge? How can Council be most useful in these situations?

Another item discussed was the relationship of ICPSR to other units within ISR and how ICPSR can maintain a high level of service to the members and yet realize savings by working with other units within ISR that perform similar tasks.

General Session

ICPSR/CPS Financial Accounting System

The Center for Political Studies (CPS) has proposed changes that would pass along to ICPSR the obligation to maintain its own overhead equity balance and would provide ICPSR with more autonomy in making decisions about the use of overhead generated by ICPSR grants and contracts. Council unanimously approved the following elements of the revised financial relationship, which would be in force for FY 98 (July 1, 1997 through June 30, 1998):

  1. Eliminate the pass-through of funds to CPS by separating the finances of ICPSR into a new organization sub-code for ICPSR under CPS.
  2. Return all indirect cost recovery on grants and contracts directly to ICPSR.
  3. Eliminate the 15% "indirect costs" assessment on ICPSR membership accounts now paid to CPS.
  4. Charge ICPSR directly for its share of CPS, ISR (Institute for Social Research), and UM (University of Michigan) administrative and investment expenses.
  5. Continue to provide 40% of the ICPSR Executive Director's salary from ISR General Funds.
  6. Release CPS from all obligations to pay ICPSR "programmatic investment" expenses (i.e., those expenses which had previously been paid by CPS for ICPSR from overhead funds generated by ICPSR, including the 10% of the Executive Director's salary), but retain ICPSR's ability to request special initiative funding from CPS.
  7. Release CPS from all obligations to maintain an equity reserve balance for use by ICPSR.
  8. Incorporate a review of all ICPSR budgets by the CPS Director and Administrative Manager and the ISR Assistant Director before presentations to and adoption by ICPSR Council.
  9. Require that ICPSR maintain an overall equity balance.

Further clarification of budgeting and financial principles between CPS and ICPSR will be discussed in the context of revisions to the existing Memorandum of Agreement between the two organizations. Discussions will also continue on the disposition of accumulated CPS equity with a proposal expected by the October Council meeting.

ISR/CPS/ICPSR Collaborative Planning Group

James House, chair of the collaborative planning group, provided a brief background on the purpose of the group. It was established by ISR, with ICPSR, to respond to recommendations of the ICPSR Council's Long-Range Planning Committee (LRPC) that ISR propose solutions to perceived organizational and intellectual issues of ICPSR within CPS and ISR. The idea was that these issues could be addressed by a group composed of the various stakeholders including ICPSR, ISR, CPS, and UM faculty outside of ISR.

House reported that the planning group met twice and, at the end of the second meeting, decided that they did not have enough clarity as to what the major issues are, if there are issues, and that the group cannot go forward without further direction. The planning group noted that many of the concerns initially identified by the LRPC have been or are being resolved and it was their opinion that other residual issues should be worked out among the relevant parties, rather than by the collaborative planning group.

The collaborative planning group suggested three ways to proceed:

  • Continue the ongoing processes and see what, if any, issues remain.
  • Take more literally the recommendation of the LRPC that ISR make a proposal for whatever changes should be made in ICPSR and that ICPSR consider those suggestions.
  • Revisit and identify residual concerns so that the collaborative committee can go forward.

The planning group considers these options to be sequential, i.e., if the first suggestion doesn't work, go on to the second, etc.

After discussion by Council, Shammas stated that the Administration and Governance Committee would consider the report of the planning group and determine the next step.

Report of the Archival Development Committee

See attached report of the Archival Development Committee, entitled xxxxx.

Next Meeting

The next ICPSR Council meeting is tentatively scheduled for 10/24/97 in conjunction with the ICPSR Official Representatives Meeting.

ICPSR Council Executive Session Minutes

Sunday, June 22, 1997

Present: Kenneth Bollen, John Garcia, Ann Gray, Charles Hirschman, Margaret Levi, Edward Nelson, Carole Shammas (Chair), Libbie Stephenson, Wendy Watkins (via telephone), Hal Winsborough

  1. The Chair called the meeting to order at 8:30.
  2. Council discussed the next step to take in regard to the issue of the governance relationship among ICPSR, CPS, and ISR in light of the suspension of the Collaborative Planning Committee.
  3. Council voted to ask the Chair to draft a letter to David Featherman, ISR Director, inviting him to make an alternative proposal for the placement of ICPSR. Such an alternative proposal would be in keeping with the Long Range Planning Report recommendations issued last October. The letter may need to be followed up with a call or meeting between the outgoing and the nominated incoming Chairs (Shammas and Winsborough) and David Featherman.
  4. The meeting was adjourned at 9:15 am.

Respectfully submitted,
Carole Shammas