The Decennial Census: Review & Planning
Studies of the decennial census are among the most plentiful in CNSTAT’s portfolio, beginning with a review of plans for the 1980 census. Among the most ambitious of CNSTAT’s census studies was a “real-time,” independent assessment of the 2000 census, which followed the process from dress rehearsal to the late stages of coverage evaluation. Since then, CNSTAT panels have explored the complexity in answering the most basic of census questions, namely, which people reside at, and should be counted at, a particular location; considered goals and enhancements to methods of census coverage measurement for the 2010 census; recommended experiments and evaluations to conduct in 2010 in order to inform 2020; and outlined strategic directions for a more cost-effective 2020 census in a 2011 report, Change and the 2020 Census: Not Whether But How. To further the work on the 2020 census, CNSTAT convened a Standing Committee on Reengineering the 2020 Census, which is assisting the Census Bureau to develop Internet and other response options, reengineer field operations, achieve a cost-effective updating of the Master Address List, and explore the use of administrative records.
The American Community Survey
More than a simple replacement for the long-form sample of past censuses, the Census Bureau’s 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. Since then, CNSTAT panels have evaluated ACS uses by other federal agencies, including the Food and Nutrition Service; considered the coverage of the “group quarters” population (such as college students and nursing home residents) in ACS estimates; and addressed priority technical issues for the ACS, producing the 2015 report Realizing the Potential of the American Community Survey: Challenges, Tradeoffs and Opportunities. CNSTAT also convened a workshop on user needs in the nonprofit, business, and state and local government sectors and a workshop on innovative ways to reduce respondent burden in the ACS.