The Decennial Census: Review & Planning
Studies of the decennial census are among the most plentiful in CNSTAT’s portfolio, from a consideration of plans for the 1980 census to studies on aspects of 2020 census planning. One CNSTAT panel explored the complexity in answering the most basic of census questions—the number of people who reside at, and should be counted at, a particular location—and suggested methodological improvements to collecting residence information. Another panel study considered the goals of census coverage measurement in the 2010 census and assessed possibilities for using administrative records to evaluate coverage and improve other census operations. Among the most ambitious of CNSTAT’s census studies was a “realtime,” independent assessment of the 2000 census, which followed the process from dress rehearsal to the late stages of coverage evaluation. In 2010, CNSTAT’s Panel to Review the 2010 Census conducted 58 site visits to local and regional census offices, data capture centers, and other census facilities, as part of its task to evaluate the 2010 census. That panel continues its work with a major focus on early research and planning for a cost-effective 2020 census.
The American Community Survey
More than a simple replacement for the long-form sample of past censuses, the Census Bureau’s new American Community Survey (ACS) presents a fundamental change in the availability and timeliness of detailed social and economic data. A 1998 CNSTAT workshop helped shape early pilot work for the ACS, and a major panel study reviewed the complex estimation and interpretation challenges of the survey in a report released in 2007. More recently, CNSTAT panels have evaluated ACS uses by other federal agencies, including the Food and Nutrition Service, and considered the coverage of the “group quarters” population (such as college students and nursing home residents) in ACS estimates. In 2012, CNSTAT convened an expert workshop on user needs and a panel on priority technical issues for the ACS.