May/June 2012 Issue • Volume 40 • Issue 5

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Science Policy


U.S. Census Director Will Head to Georgetown

The U.S Census Director sociologist Robert Groves, who was appointed director of the U.S. Census Bureau by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2009, announced in April that he was offered and accepted the provost position at Georgetown University, with a start date of late August 2012.  As Georgetown Provost, he will serve as the chief academic officer for Georgetown’s main campus. Before leading the U.S. Census Bureau, he had been a professor at the University of Michigan and director of its Survey Research Center, as well as research professor at the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland. Under Groves, the 2010 Census team defied naysayers to complete a successful census on time and $1.9 billion under budget. “We reorganized the Bureau, re-establishing a research directorate and then, in partnership with NSF, launched an 8-node research network at universities across the country,” said Groves in his Director’s blog post announcing his leave. “…This is hard work. It takes complete commitment to ongoing innovation. It’s not flashy. Indeed, public service is rarely sexy. It is, however, noble. I’ve learned that in a deep way since July 2009 from the behavior of my colleagues at the Census Bureau. ” Groves obtained his master’s degrees in statistics and sociology and PhD in sociology from the University of Michigan.

Health Care Challenges for Racial/Ethnic Minorities Are Evident

The National Healthcare Disparities Report, released in April by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), shows that access to health care was not improving for most racial and ethnic groups between 2002 and 2008 leading up to enactment of the Affordable Care Act. The data contained in the report and the companion National Healthcare Quality Report predate the Affordable Care Act; however, according to AHRQ, some provisions in the new health care law are aimed at improving health care quality and addressing health care disparities. The 2011 National Healthcare Quality Reporttracks the health care system through quality measures such as the percentage of adult smokers who received advice from a provider to quit or the percentage of children who received recommended vaccinations. The congressionally mandated disparities and quality reports, which AHRQ has produced annually since 2003, are based on more than 40 different national sources that collect data regularly. Today’s reports, which include about 250 health care measures, show the persistent challenges in access to care faced by most racial and ethnic groups. Fifty percent of the measures that tracked disparities in health care access showed no improvement between 2002 and 2008, while 40 percent of those measures were getting worse. Based on the same data and measures, the disparities report found that overall health care quality improved slowly for the general population between 2002 and 2008. To view the National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report, visit

Healthiest and Least Healthy Counties Ranked in Every State

Want to compare the health of the county you live in with the one you lived in twenty years ago? Use the online 2012 County Health Rankings. More than 3,000 counties and the District of Columbia can compare how healthy their residents are and how long they live. The Rankings are an annual check-up that highlight the healthiest and least healthy counties in every state, as well as those factors that influence health, outside of the doctor’s office. They highlight the importance of critical factors such as education rates, income levels, and access to healthy food and medical care, in influencing how long and how well people live. Now in their third year, the Rankings are increasingly being used by community leaders to help them identify challenges and take action in a variety of ways to improve residents’ health. The report shows that, within states and across the nation, there are big differences in health and the factors that influence health. Published online at by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Rankings assess the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live. The Rankings consider factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.

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