Who we are: 

At the nonprofit Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. Public policies work best when they are rooted in facts, and our research sparks solutions in programs and practice. Our analyses and recommendations help expand opportunities for all people, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the fiscal health and effectiveness of government.

Urban’s greatest asset is our people. We strive to attract and cultivate a vibrant, creative, and diverse community. Our employees drive Urban’s mission through entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, effective communication, results-orientation, and relationship cultivation. Our success depends on engaging individuals who possess and value these attributes.  

The Office of Technology and Data Science (Tech and Data)  seeks to hire a senior data scientist specializing in data security and privacy preserving analytics to serve as a resource for Urban’s policy centers and build Urban’s capacity in this field. Tech and Data is a team of outstanding technology and data science professionals who provide Urban with solutions that employ state of the art technologies and methods as well as project/product management practices including Lean, Agile and Design Thinking.

The Tech and Data team collaborates with Urban’s offices and policy centers. The senior data scientist will work closely with Urban’s Statistical Methods Group (SMG) and serve as a resource for Urban’s policy centers on advanced data science techniques, with a focus on data security and privacy preserving analytics. The candidate will play a critical leading role in a cutting-edge research project at Urban’s Tax Policy Center (TPC) to create a synthetic individual income tax filer database.  

How you’ll contribute: 

The senior data scientist will be an expert in economics, statistics, data science or computer science who has experience and education specific to statistical or data science fields such as synthetic data generation, privacy preserving data analytics techniques, data security, differential privacy, big data, and machine learning. The successful candidate will play a leadership role in projects within the Urban Institute that use machine learning, synthetic data generation, data security and privacy preserving analytics, and big data to inform policy analysis.

The candidate will work closely and collaboratively with the research programming, statistical methods and data science teams to build Urban’s technical capacity and support all centers at the Urban Institute on data privacy and security related projects under the supervision of both Urban’s Chief Data Scientist and Chief Methodologist.

  • Work on a team of researchers engaged in a major, multi-year project with the IRS to:
    • create one or more synthetic versions of the individual income tax return database;
    • assess the quality of those data and demonstrate that they may be released to the public without risks of disclosing confidential information;
    • and develop a safe method for researchers to access confidential administrative data while preserving the privacy of sensitive tax return information.
  • Play a leadership role in projects within the Urban Institute that use machine learning, synthetic data generation, privacy-preserving analytics, and big data to inform policy analysis, including the synthetic tax return data project
  • Provide intellectual leadership in project development and execution
  • Mentor and help manage junior research and data science staff
  • Develop research proposals and communicate findings clearly both verbally and in written products
  • Participate as author or coauthor in academic research papers suitable for publication in peer-reviewed journals
  • Author papers, blogs, visualizations, and other dissemination materials
  • Present published work and participate in public events in the field of the incumbent’s expertise
  • Help identify new funding sources and contribute to proposals for funding
  • Build cutting-edge data products and pipelines to produce novel data that can help tackle pressing issues from a new angle
  • Build systems and processes to collect, analyze, and combine multiple sources of data in innovative ways

Skills and responsibilities

What you’ll bring: 
The successful candidate will:
  • A Ph.D. in economics, statistics, data science, or computer science, or a Masters with equivalent technical experience preferred
  • Possess the combination of the academic knowledge and professional research experience needed to perform the duties described above
  • Strong statistical skills and experience with programming are essential. The candidate should be creative, intellectually curious, communicate well, and have excellent interpersonal skills. Experience with either Python or R is preferred.
  • Write technical research papers and nontechnical communications aimed at a more generalist audience
  • Communicate effectively with researchers, policy experts, and decision makers
  • Experience applying data science methods – including privacy preserving analytics, differential privacy algorithms, machine learning, natural language processing, web scraping, or big data platforms
  • Have excellent knowledge of applied statistics and econometrics
  • Experience with cloud computing technologies is a plus. Experience in public finance or the US tax system is a plus
  • Interest in domestic economic and social public policy issues
  • Strong interpersonal skills with experience translating complex concepts for non-technical audiences, including the ability to communicate and write for a non-technical policy audience
  • Strong organizational skills and the ability to manage competing deadlines


  • Location:
  • Deadline:


Minimum qualifications

Preferred qualifications

What you’ll experience:

Working in the Nation’s Capital, the epicenter of public policy among a network of policy experts, you can expect to have an impact on policy areas you care about and work with great colleagues who are smart, mission-driven, and collaborative. You will blend academic rigor with on-the-ground collaboration, be encouraged and supported to fulfill your potential through meaningful work that matters, and enjoy a welcoming workplace free from harassment, discrimination, and intolerance.

Also, we offer a comprehensive benefits package that includes: medical, dental, disability, and life insurance coverage, competitive paid time off allowance, and eligibility to participate in a generous retirement savings plan and reimbursable commuting expense program.  

The Urban Institute is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other protected status under applicable law.

The Urban Institute is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer -Minorities/Women/Disabilities/Veterans.

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