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February 1, 2023

Need US government data? Get to know TRAC at Syracuse University
By Clark Merrefield

“We really have built into our ethos a profound respect and admiration for the work of journalists,” Kocher says
It is worthwhile for any journalist covering U.S. public policy to become familiar with the data work of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, housed at Syracuse University. TRAC is best known for, and most often used for, its immigration data, most of which is available to the public free of charge and simpler to access than going to government agencies directly. The organization also gathers and disseminates data related to enforcement, prosecutions and other actions taken by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. TRAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, primarily grant-funded data organization established in 1989 that is affiliated with the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse. Data that TRAC has gathered and made public has recently been used in stories produced by a variety of news media organizations, including Fox News, the Associated Press and various local outlets. The guiding principle at TRAC is to increase government transparency and accountability, says TRAC researcher Austin Kocher, an assistant professor at Syracuse University who has a doctorate in geography. Executing on that principle involves gathering information from opaque agencies at the heart of U.S. immigration policy and other topics. “The fact that we’re known for immigration is sort of secondary to the fact that we’re interested in transparency,” says Kocher.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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