town, and neighborhood compare with other areas and how they have changed over time.
Due to the scope of census operations and the demands on census data, evaluating a decennial census is a challenging but essential mission, requiring careful scrutiny of every procedure and careful assessment of the effect of each procedure on the quality of the resulting data. The ultimate benchmark against which the results of a census could be compared—namely, an unambiguously true count of the population—is as unknown and elusive to census evaluators as it is to census collectors.
In 1998, the U.S. Census Bureau asked the National Research Council’s Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) to convene a Panel to Review the 2000 Census in order to provide an independent assessment of the 2000 census. A companion CNSTAT Panel on Research on Future Census Methods was convened in 1999 to observe the 2000 census and its evaluation process in order to assess the Bureau’s plans for the 2010 census (see National Research Council, 2000a, 2001c, 2003a, 2004).
The charge to our panel is broad:
to review the statistical methods of the 2000 census, particularly the use of the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation Program and dual-systems estimation, and other census procedures that may affect the completeness and quality of the data. Features the panel may review include the Master Address File, follow-up for nonresponse, race and ethnicity classifications, mail return rates, quality of long-form data, and other areas.
We conducted a variety of activities to carry out our charge: making observation visits to census offices during 2000; convening three open workshops on issues of coverage evaluation and adjustment; commissioning jointly with the Panel on Research on Future Census Methods a group of local government representatives to evaluate the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Program; commissioning a paper on race and ethnicity reporting in the census (Harris,