Astrid Martina Krenz
I am working with high-quality firm-level data from the German Statistical Offices (Statistisches Bundesamt und Statistische Aemter der Laender).
Using these data, one should be aware that it takes a lot of time until data are "ready for use" from the Stat Offices, it is involved with a lot of preparation of materials and programming by the data user herself and the data cost a lot of money.
Data access comes through remote controlled access (You programme codes that will be run on the original data in the Stat Office. You will not be allowed to see and work on the full, original data yourself, however.), even a recently accessible guest access on the local Stat Office computer provides only "almost" the original data - Bavarian information is excluded.
To give an example, some first data were accessible from the Stat Offices only after more than two and a half years. And this does not involve the time I had to spend thereafter to programme for example the German Trade Statistics to be accessible at the firm-level or the matrices for firms' location choices.
As there is only one person in charge of handling the computer and data, you are dependent on this person not to be on holidays, and on other projects and people from many professorships, faculties and universities that interfere in time with your project and are worked on instead of your own.
Moreover, checks for confidentiality and anonymity of the results done by the Stat Offices takes another time. I had to wait for some results to be handed out for example only after 6 months. My dataset costs in total about 14000 euros.