This is a periodic newsletter of the interesting things we’ve seen and what we are thinking about in open source policy analysis.

Policy Simulation Library newsletter. The first Policy Simulation Library (PSL) newsletter will be delivered to PSL subscribers in the first week of February. If you would like monthly, user-oriented updates on open source models for policy simulation, please subscribe. Link

Foundation for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018. In the midst of brimming partisan gridlock, Congress managed to pass a bill with bipartisan support to strengthen privacy protections, improve secure data access, and enhance government operational efficiency. Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan introduced the bill in the House, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) led the effort in the Senate. The legislation takes steps to make data public and open when possible and requires development of data inventories so that researchers and analysts can more easily navigate and understand publicly available data. Link

Python receives a new governance model. Over the summer, Python’s founder and “Benevolent Dictator for Life” (BDFL), Guido van Rossum, stepped down from his post, leaving a void on the Python leadership team. In his role as BDFL, van Rossum would often make final decisions or delegate decision power regarding changes to the programming language. Without von Rossum at the helm, the future of Python decision-making was uncertain until a recent democratic vote selected a new governance model. Link

Rebooting the Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality. Last newsletter, we described the brewing tension between privacy principles and research goals, stirred up by new efforts to formalize the definition of privacy under the differential privacy framework. After a prolonged hiatus, the Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality (JPC) is returning as a forum for this and other important debates. In December, JPC released a special issue commemorating the Journal’s founder and renowned statistician Stephen Fienberg, and JPC will publish regularly going forward. JPC is an open-access, online-only journal that focuses on research methodologies in the areas of privacy, confidentiality, and disclosure limitation. Under the leadership of Managing Editor Lars Vilhuber and Editor-in-Chief Cynthia Dwork, JPC will resume its regular operations. Among many other notable contributions to the field, Vilhuber serves as the American Economic Association’s data editor, and Dwork is recognized as a co-inventor of differential privacy. Link

Edited by Matt Jensen
American Enterprise Institute