February 13, 2023

Researchers interested in using BEA’s confidential microdata now have new resources for discovering the data and applying for access for their research projects.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis and other federal statistical agencies worked together to create a standard application process for the agencies’ restricted-use data, including BEA’s confidential, company-specific international trade and investment data

The standard application process (SAP) makes restricted-use data more easily accessible to qualified researchers, under strong confidentiality protections. The Interagency Council on Statistical Policy developed the SAP in response to the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018.

Researchers can use the catalog of protected data assets from 16 federal statistical agencies and statistical units at the new ResearchDataGov.org portal to identify the most appropriate data sources for their statistical research. They can then use the same portal to submit proposals to BEA and other agencies to use the data in their projects.

The statistics BEA produces, such as gross domestic product and international trade and investment statistics, are freely available to everyone and accessible on BEA’s public website. However, the company-level microdata that underlie some BEA statistics must be kept confidential by law. BEA’s company-level data cover the operations and financing of multinational companies, and international trade in services. (These are BEA’s only microdata.)

To be eligible to use these data, researchers must meet requirements of BEA’s Special Sworn Researcher Program, including being a U.S. citizen. The data can only be used for analytical or statistical purposes, and projects must further BEA’s mission. 

Visit BEA’s website for more information about applying for research access to BEA company-level data and to read papers published by researchers using the data. For questions, contact specialswornresearch@bea.gov. For more information about the SAP, visit the SAP informational website.