Census Launches New Program to Modernize Supply Chain Data Sources

Census Open Innovation Labs' StatVentures launched Phase I of its first challenge on Nov. 28, 2022.

Census Open Innovation Labs' StatVentures launched Phase I of its first challenge on Nov. 28, 2022. MR.Cole_Photographer

Through StatVentures, the Census Bureau seeks to improve the quality and speed of data describing the U.S. supply chain.

The Census Bureau launched the first phase of its StatVentures initiative on Monday, bringing private sector and civilian collaborators together to improve Census supply chain data quality.

Overseen by the Census Open Innovation Labs, StatVentures was first announced in early October, and will consist of a series of competitions for participants to suggest new, innovative data sources and measurement techniques to further modernize the bureau’s data collection methodologies.

“With the advent of e-commerce, changes in logistics processes and technologies and adoption of emerging technologies to enable new data streams, the Census Bureau wants to explore additional data sources and measurement techniques to supplement or evolve its current products and methodologies,” the agency said Monday in a press release. “Through multiphase competitions, StatVentures will invite participants to propose new ways the Census Bureau can collect and improve the nation’s supply chain data.”

The Census Bureau measures supply chain efficiency through surveys of businesses and other formal records. StatVentures aims to integrate new data sources into the Census Bureau’s business operations to better understand the flow of products throughout the country. 

During this first phase, the bureau will award 10 winners with $10,000 to develop means of integrating potential new data pipelines. 

Granularity, robustness and timeliness and speed of data are some of the three key aspects the agency is looking for in a new data stream. 

Subsequent phases will emphasize developing a blueprint for implementation within Census and test a functional prototype. 

The agency has been working on updating many parts of its technological components. Last week, officials told Nextgov that Census is working with stakeholders to modernize software applications and tailor them to better fit individual needs within the agency, as well as implement stronger cybersecurity protocols. 

Acceptance for applications for Phase 1 of StatVentures closes on Dec. 2.