RDC Frequently Asked Questions


Question: How long does it take to review and approve an application?
Answer: The estimated time to review an application is 8 to 12 weeks.  Researchers are encouraged to revise their application immediately upon receipt of comments for the review process to efficiently continue.

Question: If I make a change to my approved application, do I need to submit a new application?
Answer: This depends on the type of change. Minor changes, or amendments, will require you to update the application and may require an expedited review.  Major changes, such as change in research scope or research questions, will require you to submit a new application. New applications must go through the full review process.  Your RDC Analyst will be able to identify which course of action is best.  Note, RDC management fees may be applied to the new application.

Question: After my application has been approved, what do I do next?
Answer: Complete all required confidentiality paperwork, prepare your dataset with the public use or non-NCHS variables you have selected, and submit payment once you are invoiced. Once you’ve met all access requirements, you may schedule your visit to the RDC.


Question: How much does it cost to use the NCHS RDC?
Answer:. The minimum cost for a project is $3000.  Project fees are comprised of management fees and access fees. Access fees vary by location. For details, see User Fees.

Question: Is there a discount, or will you waive fees for students?
Answer: No.

NCHS on site procedures

Question: Can I merge my dataset in the RDC?
Answer: No. Your RDC Analyst will merge the public use or non-NCHS external data provided by you to the restricted variables requested in your approved application.  This allows us to maintain security and assure that your dataset is ready for you when you visit.

Question: Can I bring statistical programming code with me?
Answer: No. However, you may email your code to your RDC Analyst at least five business days before your visit.  All files, programs, reference materials, notes, must be reviewed before these items may enter or leave the RDC facility. Flash drives are not permitted.  RDC Analyst cannot connect external drives to any computers. We encourage researchers to send the RDC Analyst electronic copies of resource documents (e.g., programming manuals, survey questionnaires, and/or data dictionaries) you may need onsite at least five business days before your visit.

Question: How do I get my output?
Answer: You will save the output, along with a description of the output (this can be a title: a regression of…), and a description of any (sub)sample used in the output (e.g., black males age 20-29) to your project folder.   Notify your RDC Analyst that your output is ready for review. Your RDC Analyst will review it to ensure there are no disclosures. If your output matches the output described in your approved application and there are no disclosure concerns, your RDC Analyst will email the output to you within three weeks.  Voluminous output not intended for a standard journal article or presentation may take more than 3 weeks to review.

Question: What if my output does not match the output described in my approved application?
Answer: You must amend your existing application or submit a new proposal. The RDC will not review output that does not match the output described in an approved application. Note, your approved application does not guarantee the release of output. Discuss your options with your RDC Analyst.

Question: How long will it take for me to receive my output?
Answer: Output review can take up to three weeks or more depending on the information product.  Review time depends on the volume and complexity of the output and staff workload. For example, voluminous output not intended for a standard journal article or presentation may take more than 3 weeks for the review to complete. We do our best to return output to you in a timely manner, so please plan to allow for the review time as stated here.

Question: Can I request special analysis software to use onsite?
Answer: Please see the list of software available at the NCHS RDCs. We do not provide technical assistance for any software packages.  The researcher is responsible for all programming. Federal Statistical RDC users should contact the FSRDC to inquire about available software.

Question: What kind of help can the RDC provide for computer programming?
Answer: RDC analysts do not provide technical or programming help.  It is expected that you will know the basics of the analyses you wish to carry out.

Use of electronic devices within the RDC

Question: Can I use my laptop in the RDC?
Answer: No.

Question: Can I use my cell phone within the RDC?
Answer: No.

Question: Can I check my e-mail within the RDC?
Answer: No.

Question: Is wireless Internet access available elsewhere within the NCHS building?
Answer: Yes. Public or guest wifi is available in non-RDC space.

Question: Will I have any access to the Internet inside of the RDC?
Answer: No.

Question: Can I download software from the Internet within the RDC?
Answer: No. If you need add-ons to standard software, discuss this in advance with your RDC Analyst and make sure any module or software extension is listed in your application.

Hosting non-NCHS Data

For the most up to date and accurate information, please visit the data owner’s webpage. 

Questions: Where can I access non-NCHS data?
Answer: All hosted data are available at NCHS RDC locations. Federal Statistical RDC access is dependent upon the agreement we have with the data owner. For more information, visit the data owner’s webpage or contact the RDC rdca@cdc.gov .

Questions: How do I request access to non-NCHS data?
Answer:  Follow the RDC Proposal Process and use the Proposal Format. [PDF – 210 KB]  Special instructions or modified procedures are outlined on the data owner’s page.

Questions: Are there fees to access non-NCHS data?
Answer: Unless specified on the data owner’s page, user fees are the same as NCHS data. Federal Statistical RDC fees may apply.

Questions: Do I have to complete the confidentiality orientation and submit the confidentiality documents for access to non-NCHS data?
Answer: Yes, all researchers must complete the confidentiality orientation and submit confidentiality forms. Researchers are also required to complete confidentiality paperwork listed by the data owner’s .

Questions: Will my output be reviewed using the RDC guidelines outlined in the Disclosure Review Manual?
Answer: Yes, the RDC will follow the guidelines outlined in the RDC disclosure review manual. However, if the data owner requirements are different, then the RDC will follow the data owner’s guidelines.

Questions: How long will it take to review my output?
Answer: Output review usually takes up to three weeks.  However, voluminous output not intended for a standard journal article or presentation may take more than 3 weeks for the review to complete.