The use of existing data for education research activities can be a valuable resource. Improvement in statistical analysis and data management and retrieval techniques, as well as access to government data bases, has expanded opportunities for researchers seeking to investigate issues that are institutional in nature, such as participation patterns for young people transitioning from school to employment or training. Existing data may be used for descriptive research, correlation, cross-sectional or causal-comparative designs. Government institutions gather considerable amounts of data that could be "mined" by researchers; however, the way that data are compiled and differences between data bases is a difficulty to address. This article argues for greater use of existing government data bases as a data source for research in education and the social sciences, and provides some insights for researchers to consider.