John Thompson

John Thompson
Executive Director
Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS)

John H. Thompson is the Executive Director of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS). COPAFS represents over 300,000 individual researchers, educators, public health professionals, civic groups, and businesses that rely on the quality and accessibility of statistics that can only be effectively collected by the federal government. 

Thompson served as the 24th Director of the U.S. Census Bureau from August 2013 through June 2017. As Director, Thompson oversaw preparations for the 2020 Census and presided over more than 100 other censuses and surveys, which measure America’s people, places and economy and provide the basis for crucial economic indicators.

A statistician and executive, Thompson had been President and CEO of NORC at the University of Chicago from 2008 through July 2013, when he left NORC for the Census Bureau. He served as the independent research organization’s Executive Vice President from 2002 to 2008. NORC, previously known as the National Opinion Research Center, collaborates with government agencies, foundations, education institutions, nonprofit organizations and businesses to provide data and analysis that support informed decision making in key areas including health, education, criminal justice, energy, substance abuse, mental health and the environment.

Thompson had a distinguished career at the Census Bureau from 1975 to 2002 before joining NORC. Most notably, as an Associate Director, he was the senior career executive responsible for all aspects of the 2000 Census. 

A longtime leader in the social science research community, Thompson is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association and past chair of the association’s Social Statistics Section and Committee on Fellows. He served as a member of the Committee on National Statistics at the National Academy of Sciences. He participated as a member of the CNSTAT panel on the design of the 2010 Census Program of Evaluations and Experiments and the panel to review the 2010 Census.

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Virginia Tech.

Recent Events and Presentations

February 27, 2018

Join the Center for Data Innovation for a panel discussion about the risks to open government data, especially in agencies that are underfunded and understaffed, and what can be done to protect data in the years to come.