Topic Archives: Employee Recognition

BLS Staff Member Receives Prestigious Honor

Daniell Toth

ASA Fellow Daniell Toth

One of the things I love about leading BLS is working with so many dedicated and talented professionals, who care deeply about the quality of the statistics we publish. One of our colleagues recently was recognized for his good work. All of us at BLS congratulate Daniell Toth, a research mathematical statistician in the Office of Survey Methods Research, who was selected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.

Only one-third of one percent of the ASA’s membership receives this prestigious distinction. Daniell has been honored for outstanding contributions to survey methods. Among these contributions are better methods for designing survey samples and assessing and reducing the bias that can result from survey nonresponse. The honor also recognizes Daniell’s research on methods to protect the confidentiality of survey respondents. In addition to Daniell’s important research, the ASA recognized his long service to support junior statisticians and researchers, the broader statistical community, and the ASA itself. Congratulations, Daniell!

Prestigious Award for BLS and U.S. Census Bureau Researchers

There are so many things I love about being Commissioner of Labor Statistics. The part of the job I enjoy the most is working every day with so many talented, dedicated, hard-working people. I am especially pleased when BLS staff members receive recognition for their good work. We recently celebrated one of those occasions.

Thesia Garner and Kathleen Short holding their Roger Herriot Award certificates.

Thesia Garner and Kathleen Short

Thesia Garner of the Office of Prices and Living Conditions and Kathleen Short of the U.S. Census Bureau received the 2016 Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics at the 2016 Joint Statistical Meetings. The award recognizes the important and extensive research Thesia and Kathleen have done together over more than 20 years to develop better measures of poverty in the United States. Their most recent work focused on producing the Supplemental Poverty Measure. This measure provides insight about the effects of public policies and programs on reducing poverty. Herriot Award winners are chosen by a committee of the American Statistical Association and the Washington Statistical Society. Please join me in congratulating Thesia and Kathleen for this recognition and for their research into improving the ways we measure economic hardship.

Honoring Two Fearless BLS Visionaries

In January 2013, when I was sworn in as the 14th Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I couldn’t help thinking about my predecessors in the position. Each of the previous 13 commissioners has played a unique and pivotal part in the development of this agency in pursuit of our mission to produce data vital to the economic health of our country. I often focused on the first commissioner, Carroll D. Wright, and the 10th, and first female commissioner, Janet L. Norwood. They both played extraordinary roles in making BLS today one of the preeminent statistical agencies in the world.

For this reason, yesterday was an extremely special day for BLS and for me. U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez inducted Carroll Wright and Janet Norwood into the Labor Hall of Honor—on World Statistics Day, no less!

Commissioner Erica Groshen speaks at the Labor Hall of Honor with Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen, and Clark University president David Angel

Commissioner Erica Groshen speaks at the Labor Hall of Honor induction ceremony with Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen, and Clark University President David Angel.

 

The power of statistics and how they help people make informed decisions was certainly on display. The induction ceremony also showed the outsized influence these two extraordinary statisticians and public servants have had on BLS and the country.

For example, did you know that Carroll Wright was self-trained as a statistician, yet served as BLS Commissioner, Chief of the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics, Superintendent of the Decennial Census, and President of the American Statistical Association? Even so, I believe his greatest accomplishment was his profound commitment that statistics produced by BLS would be devoted to “the fearless publication of the facts without regard to the influence those facts may have upon any party’s position or any partisan’s views.” I love the word “fearless” here—an unusual but totally apt tribute to BLS data nerds!

Wright’s work to ensure the impartiality of government statistics is still the bedrock of our agency and his greatest legacy. Articulating this doctrine and fashioning the steps to achieve it (as obvious as they might seem today) were key innovations when he introduced them.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez speaks at the Labor Hall of Honor with Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen, Clark University president David Angel, and Commissioner Erica Groshen.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez speaks at the Labor Hall of Honor induction ceremony with Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen, Clark University President David Angel, and Commissioner Erica Groshen.

 

Almost 100 years later, Janet Norwood carried on in Wright’s tradition. After rising through the ranks as a career employee at BLS, she was nominated to be the 10th Commissioner. Janet served as BLS Commissioner for 13 years, spanning three Presidential administrations. When she retired in 1991 after 28 years of service at BLS, the New York Times said she had a “near-legendary reputation for nonpartisanship.”

She was also responsible for making BLS what it is today—a model workplace with professional, dedicated employees fearlessly (!!) producing quality statistics for U.S. policymakers, businesses, and families. BLS rose to new heights of prominence as a result, with Janet testifying before Congress an amazing 137 times during her 13 years as Commissioner!

Both Carroll Wright and Janet Norwood set new standards for BLS Commissioners, and it was truly a highlight of my time as Commissioner to see them inducted into the prestigious Labor Hall of Honor.

Celebrating Our Customers

This week, BLS celebrates National Customer Service Week. We work every day to ensure you have a positive experience when you connect with us. Whether answering questions from the public, speaking at events, designing our website and releases, or helping businesses and households throughout the data collection process, BLS staff always put the customer first. It’s just the way we do business here.

Providing direct access to our experts is a cornerstone of the BLS culture of making our data accessible to all. This accessibility helps ensure that data users get the information they need quickly and easily. Each BLS program and regional office posts telephone numbers and email addresses that take you directly to the experts. I encourage you to take advantage of this wonderful service. Every year BLS economists and information specialists help thousands of data users. These information seekers, ranging from students to Congressional staff, are trying to find data that will help them make informed decisions.

Besides answering information calls and emails, BLS experts serve customers by speaking at events around the country. Speakers are available to discuss many topics about the U.S. labor market and economy. If you want to have a BLS speaker attend your event, please check out the BLS Speakers’ Page.

Another important way BLS staff help the public is through the data collection process. Every day, our economists and economic assistants collect data from businesses and households. We use these data to produce statistics about the national and regional labor markets. We always ask ourselves and our customers, the respondents, how we can improve efficiency. Whether we collect data by phone, using the Internet or other electronic options, or through personal visits, BLS staff mix high-tech methods with the high touch of building personal relationships. This ensures we receive the highest quality, most accurate data possible, with the lowest burden on respondents.

I thank our customers and my staff here at BLS, who work together to ensure we deliver the best possible data for the public to make decisions that shape the future.

Recognizing innovators at BLS

Every successful organization needs to innovate to remain effective and relevant—and BLS is no exception. We strive every day to provide our fellow citizens with the best value for their taxpayer dollars. To produce the best statistics, analyses, and services, we must foster a workplace that encourages innovation. We recently held our annual awards ceremony to recognize the good work of our staff members who work hard every day to provide the public with data that are accurate, objective, relevant, timely, and accessible. One of the honors we presented was the BLS Innovation Award. I want to tell you about the two groups that received the award this year.

The first group we honored found a way to blend data collection for two different but related surveys. BLS surveys rely on the voluntary cooperation of individuals, businesses, and other organizations to provide information about the labor market and economy. We realize that time is valuable for our survey respondents, and we do our best to make our collection as quick and efficient as possible. This year, a team of BLS national and regional office staff designed and tested a process to combine collection of information on the pay and benefits of workers with information on the physical demands and other requirements of jobs. This combined collection will support the data needs of our National Compensation Survey and the Occupational Requirements Survey. The approach relies on BLS field economists to manage the survey process efficiently and flexibly in a conversational interview process. The result is that collection interviews are shorter and therefore less costly in both time and money. Moreover, the survey process is less burdensome to employers that participate in both surveys. The new process is a win-win for BLS and businesses!

The second group honored with the BLS Innovation Award helped make data collection more efficient in a very different way. A team of national and regional office staff developed a self-paced course to impart better skills to manage time and workload. The course uses new technology as it follows “Kathy,” an animated field economist, through her work. The training module includes a process of reviewing course materials, keeping an activity log, viewing a video on the science of productivity, reviewing quick-reference tips and strategies, and taking a quiz. The training equips field staff with the time-management tools to collect data from respondents and manage caseloads efficiently. These new tools enable BLS to improve our efficiency and effectiveness in producing the nation’s statistics.

In addition to these two groups, a number of other excellent projects were nominated for the BLS Innovation Award. All of these projects (and many others) will help BLS provide better, more efficient products and services in the years to come—and are excellent examples of the innovation taking place daily at BLS.