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Social and Decision Analytics

Democratizing data to serve the public good

We believe in the power of all data — not just "big data" — to provide evidence-based insights that can change the way communities make policy and, ultimately, can improve lives locally. Working closely with government leaders, foundations, and industry, we discover and link many different types of information to create a picture of life on the ground.

Our research begins with our data science framework — a set of theoretical and ethical principles for identifying and collecting data. Along the way, we refine our approach to pull the right information that will get to the crux of the problem at hand.

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Our Team

Solving social challenges requires knowledge and perspectives from across multiple disciplines. Our team includes statisticians, economists, public health experts, mathematicians and social psychologists, all working together to understand how information about populations combines to reveal new truths. We are located in Arlington, Virginia, a stone’s throw from Washington, D.C., and in close proximity to state and federal policymakers.

Our Areas of Focus

Our work is as diverse as the data we use. From the health of a neighborhood, to soldier performance and the very ability of local governments and communities to harness the power of their own data, we focus on four key social challenges.

Tackling community issues such as economic mobility, improving access to food, housing and jobs to advance community health and well-being.

Improving the well-being of citizens across the nation through the health of our national systems from food to defense to technology.

Assessing the use of non-survey data flows to supplement or enhance current development of Official Statistics.

Helping policymakers understand how information and influence spread through social and communication networks, and the thought processes underlying individual decision-making and collective behavior.

The Science of All Data

At the core of our research is a unique approach to addressing complex problems called, the Science of All Data. There are several facets to our approach from how we partner with stakeholders to what kind of data we use to our framework for actually doing data science, all of which are anchored by a strong bedrock of ethics.

Research Spotlight

Joint Statistical Meetings 2021

The Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) is the premier event—one of the largest statistical events in the world—for statisticians and data scientists in academia, industry, and government to exchange ideas and explore opportunities for collaboration. 


The 2021 JSM included an unprecedented number of speakers from the Social and Decision Analytics division who took part in the week-long lineup from August 8 -12, 2021.

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Data Science for the Public Good

Sallie Keller Headshot
Sallie Keller

Division Director, Social and Decision Analytics

As leaders in data science research, we hold ourselves accountable and push to champion research and public policy on public good issues that will shape a healthy future for communities around the world.

Our Data Science for the Public Good initiative is fluid and evolving. See the direction it’s taking.

The Forum
Stephanie Shipp
Stephanie Shipp

Deputy Director, Social and Decision Analytics

Our Forum events take the discussion out into the community and to the public at large in an effort to encourage more civic engagement and strategic planning for the good of society.

Our Data Science for the Public Good initiative is fluid and evolving. See the direction it’s taking.

Young Scholars
Aaron and Gizem at podium
Aaron Schroeder and Gizem Korkmaz

Young Scholars Program Co-directors and Research Associate Professors

Our Young Scholars Program introduces students to the field of data science in a way that provides experiential learning alongside research mentors to get students interested in civic engagement by focusing on real-world, public good projects.

Our Data Science for the Public Good initiative is fluid and evolving. See the direction it’s taking.