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A Case for Change and the Future of the U.S. Census Bureau

A Case for Change and the Future of the U.S. Census Bureau John Thompson Director U.S. Census Bureau Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) Annual Conference June 6, 2014 Returning to the Census
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A Case for Change and the Future of the U.S. Census Bureau John Thompson Director U.S. Census Bureau Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) Annual Conference June 6, 2014 Returning to the Census After a Decade Right Timing and Opportunities to Use Technology and Information More Effectively Increased use of the Internet as a response option across all programs Reengineer the 2020 Census Make data more accessible and develop new data products, especially products that utilize both economic and demographic data to help businesses grow the economy and create jobs Ensuring the Continued Availability of American Community Survey (ACS) Data to meet the needs for high quality socio-demographic data for all communities Building for the Future at the U.S. Census Bureau Challenges:. Remain relevant and innovate in an era with less time and less resources. Strengths: Strong culture supporting the Census Bureau s mission and protecting information, as well as commitment to collaboration with other statistical agencies. Vision: Encourage a culture that is continuously self-evaluative, adaptable, and innovative applies not only to the decennial and economic censuses, but the enterprise. Encouraging Innovation: Three Stories Economic Census and Survey of Business Owners Success Stories: setting the stage for the future of increased Internet response options across all programs how to use technology and Paradata more effectively 2020 Census Redesign: delivering on innovation with a less-costly census Data Dissemination: delivering relevant data that meets the needs of a complex and disparate user base Economic Census: Basics Conducted every five years, provides comprehensive, detailed, and authoritative information on the structure and functions of the U.S. economy Accounts for approximately 85 percent of GDP estimates More than 1,600 releases, 40 billion data cells Highly detailed industry, geographic, and product statistics Electronic Reporting: Surveyor (the past) o Supports hundreds of questionnaire types for the Economic Census o Downloadable software with workbook and spreadsheet capability to import and export response o Reporting option for both multi- and single-unit companies for 2002 and 2007 o Single-units had a strong preference for web-based reporting Faster and easier Avoid downloading and installing software 2012 Economic Census (the future) o Developed a direct-internet reporting capability for single-units using Centurion o Multi-units report electronically using Surveyor 5 2012 Economic Census: Electronic Reporting Results: 2012 overall e-reporting return rate was 53.4 percent compared with 28.6 percent in 2007 Greater than expected increase in e-response has contributed to a considerable cost savings Economic Census Overall Electronic Reporting Return Rate Percent of Total Receipts FYQ1 FYQ2 FYQ3 FYQ4 End 2007 Actual 2012 Target 2012 Actual Note: 2007 Q1 electronic responses were not available because checkin did not begin until 2007 Q2. 6 Assisting Respondents: e-tools Business Help Site: Improve customer service to providers Company Portal: Ease burden on data providers Secure Messaging Center: Provide secure communication and transfer of data 7 Benefits of Electronic Data Collection: Increased Data Quantity Checked-in electronic forms has increased over the last three Economic Census cycles Number of Forms Received Electronically: Comparisons between 2012, 2007, and 2002:* Description Total Cumulative Electronic Forms by Count 1,710, , ,196 Total Cumulative Electronic Forms As a Percent of Total Cumulative Forms Checked-in (Excluding Single Unit (SU) Classification Forms) 57.2% 28.6% 16.0% Multi-Unit (MU) Cumulative Electronic Forms Checked-in by Count 1,172, , ,377 MU Cumulative Electronic Forms As a Percent of Total Cumulative MU Forms Checked-in 72.7% 54.4% 35.1% SU Cumulative Electronic Forms by Count 537,480 50,986 3,819 SU Cumulative Electronic Forms As a Percent of Total Cumulative SU Forms Checked-in (Excluding SU Classification Forms) 39.0% 3.3% 0.2% *Source: Surveyor Improvements Team, 2007 Economic Census Electronic Receipts Quantity Analysis, January 2009, internal report. Updated with information for Survey of Business Owners: Basics Part of the Economic Census : Conducted every 5 years, years ending in 2 & 7 Conducted on a company or firm basis to provides demographic data for businesses and business owners by Demographics (gender, ethnicity, race, and veteran status) Business characteristics (e.g., source and amount of start-up capital) Owner characteristics (e.g., age and education) NAICS coverage similar to the Economic Census Combines data from several sources Online reporting and mailout/mailback survey IRS business tax returns Other Economic Census reports Two-phase mailout (1.75 million firms) Phase I employer firms (850,000) mailed in September 2013 Phase II nonemployer firms and new employer firms (900,000) mailed May 27-29, Transition to Electronic Reporting: 2007 & SBO Phase I 8.4% 10.0% 2012 SBO Phase I 91.6% Electronic Paper Electronic Paper 90.0% As of May 12, Government shutdown Due date Summed Online vs. Mail-In Responses 800, , , , , , , ,000 0 Online responses (550,869 or 64.9% of total mailout) Mail-in responses (58,580 or 6.9% of total mailout) 1 st follow-up mailout 2nd follow-up mailout 71.8% 11 Opportunities and Future Strategies Move to an all web-based approach for electronic reporting by expanding Centurion, the Census Bureau s in-house Internet collection tool, to meet requirements for multi-establishment businesses Design electronic instruments and develop e-reporting tools that better guide respondents Build in editing capability to allow for cleaner data and expedited processing Utilize electronic paradata o Improve survey instruments o Answer questions about the respondent process to influence current and future data collection activities (e.g., adaptive or tailored designs) 12 Challenges How do we design a digital alternative to the role that paper forms appear to play in the business survey respondent s reporting process? Assuring respondents of survey authenticity Assuring respondents that data are transmitted safely and securely Incorporating Lessons Learned from Surveyor and other electronic data collection, which underscores need to shift web-based reporting Accommodating companies that cannot download software for security reasons (e.g., banking industry) Overcoming hardware/software compatibility issues Maintaining data quality (e.g., nonresponse bias) 13 2020 Census: Where are we Today? As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, there is one chance each decade to count the population. The next census in 2020 will require counting an increasingly diverse and growing population of around 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units. The Census Bureau is conducting research in order to inform key design decisions at the end of FY 2015. 2020 Census: FY 2013 and FY 2014 Reassessment of the Research & Testing Program in FY 2013 Reprioritized critical activities needed to support key early testing objectives Lapse in appropriations in FY Census Test: Delayed operations originally scheduled to begin on October 1, 2013 to October 17, Site Test: Delayed operations originally scheduled to begin in May to July 2014 Funding levels available under the FY 2014 Continuing Resolution Placed some activities on hiatus and reduced the level of effort for some of the remaining projects Temporarily realigned staff (within the Census Bureau) to ensure budget was available to allow critical field tests Elements of a Cost-Effective Census Research and testing activities in FY 2014 and FY 2015 are critical to making preliminary design decisions by the end of FY The areas of focus are: Leverage technology to increase self-response: give people more options such as Internet and telephone to respond to the census, so we do not have to knock on as many doors Utilize information people have already given the government (aka, administrative records) and adaptive design to reduce the NRFU workload and increase productivity Reengineer the approach and management of field enumeration by streamlining and automating operations and more efficiently planning and controlling field activities Update existing maps and addresses in order to conduct a targeted address canvassing (TAC) operation prior to 2020 by continually updating the Master Address File throughout the decade Redesigning the 2020 Census Can Save Billions Data Dissemination in the Future Present Needs and the Future: Allow wide variety of data user to make better data-driven decisions, based on credible statistics, easy-to-use tools, and standardized data elements. In other words, the Census Bureau needs to ensure its data are relevant to answer the questions data users need to answer. The Census Bureau needs to expand both its user base and the products we create to serve all users from the very sophisticated to casual user. Need to disseminate data that gets into the hands of businesses and economic develop organizations not only more quickly, but more efficiently. Data Dissemination in the Future: Key Principles To this end, the Census Bureau will foster and maintain an outwardly focused, cost-effective data dissemination environment where: Its employees view dissemination as a shared service and responsibility; engage in active listening; look for ways to strengthen new ideas; and are innovative and risk-taking. Its processes provide continuous information about how effectively this agency is meeting data users needs. Its tools make data easy to access and use. Its information respects confidentiality and is respected as a reliable and credible source. The Census Bureau wants to continually adapt and engage customers to expand its products and services as customers needs evolve. Data Dissemination Transformation: As-Is and To-Be American Community Survey: Basics Beginning in 2005, the Census Bureau started conducting the American Community Survey (ACS): The ACS is largest household survey and is sent to approximately 3.5 million households each year approximately 1in 38 with a 97% response rate. The ACS replaced the decennial census long form and responses to the ACS are mandatory all responses are confidential. Respondents are asked to participate by mail or Internet, then telephone and inperson follow-up. ACS is the authoritative source of annual demographic, socioeconomic, and housing information for all communities states, counties/cities, census tracts. Demographic: race, Hispanic origin, age, gender, relationship Social: ancestry, grandparents as caregivers, Veterans status, military history, educational enrollment and attainment Economic: income, labor force status, occupation, journey to work Housing: utilities, mortgage/rent, bedrooms, acreage, telephone & Internet service ACS Content Review To ensure the ACS content is both relevant and needed, the Census Bureau has initiated a comprehensive content review: Federal Agencies Input On April 29, conducted kickoff summit with all federal agencies included 127 attendees from 23 agencies Agencies must provide all their information by late June Public Input Field Representatives CATI and FR survey May Respondent feedback May/June Data user feedback June National Advisory Committee Working Group on Content Review Will provide feedback on questions/topics that should be candidates for removal Complete work end of July Present findings to full NAC in August Analysis and Decisions Analyze feedback from all sources - June September Formally announce decisions and seek public input via Federal Register notice process - October-December Implement decisions for calendar year 2016 and beyond in coordination with OMB Implications of a Voluntary ACS Implications of a Voluntary ACS Discussion


Jul 25, 2017
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