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Data Access & Use Policy

Section 1: Purpose

This policy establishes the rules for governing access, use, and re-disclosure of de-identified data collected, stored, and maintained by the State of New Jersey in the State Education to Earnings Data System (NJEEDS).

Section 2: Authority

This data access and use policy is authorized under an agreement memorialized in the Memorandum of Understanding between the New Jersey (NJ) Department of Education, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education dated June 2015.

Section 3: Background

The NJ Department of Education, the NJ Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, and the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development have partnered together, to develop a common platform of K through 12 education data, higher education data and labor/workforce data within a secure, common data storage and reporting system, called the New Jersey State Education to Earnings Data System (NJEEDS) and the De-identified Reporting System (DRS). This system is intended to enhance the ability of New Jersey state government to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, and use de-identified education, postsecondary education and workforce data. The NJEEDS will help districts, schools, secondary and postsecondary educators, workforce agencies, and other stakeholders to make data-informed decisions to improve student learning, education and labor force outcomes as well as to facilitate research to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps. The NJEEDS will be instrumental in defining and fulfilling a research agenda that will help meet the State of New Jersey’s respective commitments for the State Fiscal Stabilization Funds received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (indicators (c) (11) and (c) (12)), the America COMPETES Act, the Annual Reports by Institutions of Higher Education (Institutional Profiles) (N.J.S.A. 18A:3B-35), and the requirements of the SLDS grant (U.S. Department of Education #R372A120025). Additionally, it will also support the requirements of two Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI- MI-23214-12-60-A-34 MI-25898-14-60-A-34) grants awarded to NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop a workforce longitudinal data system.

Section 4: Definitions

  1. “Access” means the ability for an authorized individual to view, download and/or extract data in the systems maintained by the state.
  2. “Authorized agency” refers to a public agency that is approved by the NJEEDS Data Advisory Council, unless prohibited by state or federal law, to have access to the De-identified Reporting System (DRS).
  3. “Authorized user” refers to an authorized agency employee or representative who is identified and designated by the authorized agency as having authority to access the DRS. The authorized user shall meet all state and federal requirements necessary to access information of a data owner in the DRS. The authorized agency is responsible for notifying The Heldrich Center within one business day when one of their authorized user(s) separates from employment or should otherwise have their access terminated. Authorized users must complete an Authorized User Agreement Form and any additional forms required by the individual data owners prior to gaining access to the DRS.
  4. “NJEEDS Data Advisory Council” is the governing group, established by the February 4, 2015 Memorandum of Understanding between the New Jersey Department of Education, New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and charged with developing and carrying out the research agenda and other activities under the NJEEDS.
  5. “Confidentiality” means any record or information not open for public inspection or where disclosure is restricted pursuant to relevant federal or state statute or regulation.
  6. “Department of Labor and Workforce Development” refers to the New Jersey state agency providing workforce, employment and unemployment data.
  7. “Data owner” refers to the agency that provides specific data to the NJEEDS DRS. For purposes of this agreement, the data owner for the NJ Office of the Secretary of Higher Education is the NJ Office of the Secretary of Higher Education; the data owner for the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development is the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development; and the data owners for the NJ Department of Education are local New Jersey K-12 education agencies.
  8. “Data providers” or “providing agency” means one of the entities that provides data to the NJEEDS DRS. For purposes of this agreement, the data provider for the NJ Office of the Secretary of Higher Education is the NJ Office of the Secretary of Higher Education; the data provider for the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development is the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development; and the data provider for the NJ Department of Education is the NJ Department of Education.
  9. “De-identification” is a process for removing common elements such as names, agency identification numbers, and other unique characteristics from data so that the individual level data can be analyzed without disclosing the identity of individuals.
  10. “Department of Education,” refers to the New Jersey agency providing K through 12 education data.
  11. “DRS” or “De-identified Reporting System” refers to the set of reporting tools which the State can make available to authorized users to create reports and analyses from the de-identified data.
  12. “Education records” means those records directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency or institution.
  13. “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” or “FERPA” means the federal law codified at 20 U.S.C. 1232g and its implementing regulations found in 34 C.F.R. Part 99.
  14. “Office of the Secretary of Higher Education” refers to the New Jersey state agency established providing post-secondary education data.
  15. “NJEEDS” or “New Jersey Education to Earnings” refers to the statewide data system that contains education, postsecondary education, and workforce data.
  16. “Open records request” refers to a formal request to provide information to a third party in compliance with the New Jersey Open Public Records Act, P.L. 2001, c. 404.
  17. “Participating Institutions of Higher Education” refers to both public and private higher education institutions who send data to the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, which is then sent to the NJEEDS. These organizations are not considered data owners or data providers.
  18. “Personally identifiable information” means information contained in an electronic record such as social security number, name, characteristic, or other information that alone or in combination would make an individual’s identity easily traceable.
  19. “Records match” is the process where records for an individual are brought together from multiple data sources.
  20. “Re-disclosure” occurs when data, that have been disclosed to another party such as when a school district or institution sends identifiable data to a state agency, are then re-disclosed by that agency to a third party that is not under its direct control.
  21. “Research” means a formal investigation designed to develop or contribute to general knowledge.
  22. “Security” includes measures to ensure that records are not lost, stolen, vandalized, illegally accessed, or otherwise rendered useless. Since the data are stored on computers, it is essential that there be a high level of protection that provides integrity and availability commensurate with the level of risk and magnitude of harm.
  23. “Statistical data” refers to data that are not personally or statistically identifiable in any way.
  24. “Statistically identifiable data” refers to data which, because of small cell sizes or unique populations may not be publically re-disclosed because it may allow re-identification of confidential data.
  25. “Third party” is a party other than the authorized state agencies, its staff, or its authorized representatives who request access to data or information from the state.
  26. “Workforce data” refers to data from employment, unemployment, workforce, and workforce preparation programs.
  27. The Heldrich Center refers to the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development within the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey who centrally manages the NJEEDS Data Use and Access process, and to the staff and office representatives who are employed by and under the direct control of the Heldrich Center.

Section 5: Policy

  1. General
    1. This policy shall apply to all data and information collected, maintained, and created within the NJEEDS.
    2. Data collected and maintained within the NJEEDS shall be managed in a manner that supports state policy-making in New Jersey.
    3. Any records request submitted to the state that pertains to a single providing agency’s data, and does not include other agency data, shall be referred to that providing agency for response.
    4. This policy will adhere to restrictions on the release of personally identifiable information and statistically identifiable information in the FERPA, 20 U.S.C. 1232g, as well as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., and other relevant state and federal privacy laws.
    5. Data access provisions may change if mandated by state law or federal law. The NJEEDS Data Advisory Council may, at its discretion, provide advice regarding changes to this data access and use policy consistent with state and federal law. Changes to the data access provisions must be made only upon agreement of the NJEEDS Data Advisory Council chairs representing the NJ Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and the NJ Department of Education. Prior to any amendment or change, the Heldrich Center shall circulate the draft revised policy to all data providers for review and comment.
    6. The Heldrich Center will maintain the NJEEDS acceptable use guidelines with rules to ensure that the data from the NJEEDS and DRS are used in ways that comply with relevant confidentiality statutes and regulations.
    7. Authorized users of the NJEEDS DRS may not re-disclose personally identifiable information or statistically identifiable data that may result in any individual or employer being identified based on the size or uniqueness of the population received from the NJEEDS DRS to any third party except as provided in section 5:E of this policy.
  2. State Authorized Data Owner and Provider Access and Use
    1. Authorized users from each providing state agency will have full access to all data their agency has provided to the NJEEDS DRS.
    2. The agency authorized users responsible for developing, operating, and maintaining the records linking and matching processes shall have access to all data provided by the data providers including personally identifying information solely for the purpose of linking records together and validating the accuracy of records matching.
    3. The agency authorized users responsible for analyzing the data and developing reports shall have access to data within the NJEEDS DRS and may utilize it internally and share results with authorized users to the extent permitted by relevant state and federal privacy laws and the NJEEDS acceptable use guidelines.
    4. To the extent permitted by state and federal law and in accordance with Section 4. C. of this Policy, state agency authorized users shall have access to all statistical data de-identified within the NJEEDS DRS and may use such data internally within their office or agency.
    5. Reports, publications, and other public presentation of statistical data derived from the NJEEDS DRS must adhere to the NJEEDS acceptable use guidelines to ensure individual privacy.
    6. Agency Authorized users shall provide preview copies of all reports, publications, and other statistical data derived from the NJEEDS DRS to the Heldrich Center and to the NJEEDS Data Advisory Council Co-Chairs twenty (20) business days prior to publication or presentation. The NJEEDS Co-Chairs may object to the publication or presentation for failure to comply with state or federal privacy laws regarding suppression or redaction requirements or the NJEEDS acceptable use guidelines. The NJEEDS Data Advisory Council Co-chairs representing the NJ Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the NJ Department of Education will review any objection and ensure compliance with all relevant state and federal privacy laws and the acceptable use guidelines.
  3. State Participating Institutions of Higher Education Data Access and Use
    1. Authorized users from each state public institution of higher education will have full access to all data their institution provided to the NJEEDS.
    2. The authorized public institution staff responsible for developing, operating, and maintaining the records shall have access to all data their institution provided to the NJEEDS including personally identifying information solely for the purpose of linking records together and validating the accuracy of records matching.
    3. The authorized staff responsible for analyzing the data and developing reports shall have access to data within the NJEEDS and may utilize it internally and share results with authorized users to the extent permitted by relevant state and federal privacy laws and the NJEEDS acceptable use guidelines.
    4. To the extent permitted by state and federal law and in accordance with Section 4. C. of this Policy, authorized users shall have access to all the data their post-secondary educational institution provided within the NJEEDS and DRS and may use such data internally within their office or agency.
    5. Reports, publications, and other public presentation of statistical data derived from the NJEEDS and DRS must adhere to the NJEEDS acceptable use guidelines to ensure individual privacy.
  4. Requests for Statistical Data and Reports by Third Parties
    1. General information requests, requests for aggregated reports, or requests for research purposes contained in the NJEEDS DRS in either printed or electronic format which pertain to data emanating from a single data provider will be referred to the appropriate data provider.
    2. General information requests for statistical data or reports or for research purposes not previously released or already publicly available either in printed or electronic format which involve linked data from multiple agencies will be responded to by the Heldrich Center. The Heldrich Center will provide the data provider whose data are included in the request a copy of the original request and a brief description of what they intend to provide as a response twenty (20) business days before they release the information to the requestor.
    3. Requests for data or information which only include data that has previously been authorized for general public release or is already available may be responded to by the Heldrich Center without requiring advance notification of the data provider. The Heldrich Center will provide the data owners a copy of the request and a copy or description of the information which was provided.
    4. Open public records requests for statistical data or reports either in printed or electronic format will be responded to by the Heldrich Center records custodian or designee in accordance with New Jersey open public records law.
    5. To the extent permitted by law, the Heldrich Center may elect to charge a fee to develop and process the statistical data or reports and provide the associated materials to the requestor.
  5. NJEEDS Initiated Reports
    1. The Heldrich Center will develop and publish an annual research agenda that provides a list of planned reports to be circulated to the data providers and general public.
    2. The Heldrich Center may develop additional reports, presentations, and other information products in addition as the need arises.
    3. All NJEEDS reports, publications, and information products must adhere to all relevant state and federal privacy laws, including any executed agreement mandated therein, and the NJEEDS acceptable use guidelines to ensure individual and employer privacy.
    4. The Heldrich Center shall provide preview copies of all reports, publications, and other information products initiated by the Heldrich Center to the state agencies whose data are included at least twenty (20) business days prior to publication or presentation. Data owners may object for failure to comply with state or federal privacy laws regarding suppression or redaction requirements or the NJEEDS acceptable use guidelines. The NJEEDS Data Advisory Council Co-chairs representing the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Education will review any objection and ensure compliance with all relevant state and federal privacy laws and the NJEEDS acceptable use guidelines.
  6. Security, and Audit Requirements
    1. Data owners control access to the personally identifiable information they provide to the data providers for the NJEEDS and are responsible for keeping authorizations up to date on who may have access to their data and any additional restrictions.
    2. The Heldrich Center shall ensure that data, copies of data, and all reports containing personally identifiable information are maintained in a secure environment to prevent unauthorized access. A secure environment includes any electronic media, computer, server, or network on which the data reside.
    3. The Heldrich Center shall ensure that electronic files, reports or documents that contain personally identifiable information are destroyed when they are no longer needed.
    4. The Heldrich Center shall use encryption or other best practices when using personally identifiable information, and shall require agencies to use encryption or other best practices when transferring personally identifiable information to the Heldrich Center.
    5. The Heldrich Center will develop de-identification standards and processes using modern statistical methods to ensure the protection of personally identifiable information when presented in reports or inclusion in files that would allow their re-identification.
    6. Immediately upon discovery, the Heldrich Center shall notify in writing all data owners of any security breach.
    7. The Heldrich Center shall perform periodic audits on authorized users to ensure compliance with this policy. Authorized users shall maintain records on internal access, denial and cancellation policies, currently permitted authorized user lists, and data accessed for research purposes.
  7. Amendments to the Policy
    1. If the NJEEDS Data Advisory Council Co-Chairs jointly determine that a modification of this policy is necessary to comply with any new or amended state or federal requirements or for operational efficiencies, then the Co-Chairs may modify this policy in writing at any time. Any amendments shall be jointly approved by the Co-chairs and an amended policy published accordingly.

New Jersey Office
of the Secretary
of Higher Education

New Jersey Department
of Education

New Jersey Department
of Labor and Workforce
Development

© 2017 New Jersey’s Education to Earnings Data System

New Jersey Office
of the Secretary
of Higher Education

New Jersey Office
Department
of Education

New Jersey Department
of Labor and Workforce
Development

© 2017 New Jersey’s Education to Earnings Data System