preferably earlier. Further delay will undercut the ability of the ACS to provide, by 2010, small-area data of the type traditionally collected on the census long form and will jeopardize 2010 planning, which currently assumes a short-form-only census.
Finding 4.1: The use of a redesigned questionnaire and mailing strategy and, to a more limited extent, of expanded advertising and outreach—major innovations in the 2000 census—contributed to the success achieved by the Census Bureau in stemming the decline in mail response rates observed in the two previous censuses. This success helped reduce the costs and time of follow-up activities.
Recommendation 4.1: The Census Bureau must proceed quickly to work with vendors to determine cost-effective, timely ways to mail a second questionnaire to nonresponding households in the 2010 census, in order to improve mail response rates, in a manner that minimizes duplicate enumerations.
Finding 4.2: Contracting for selected data operations, using improved technology for capturing the data on the questionnaires, and aggressively recruiting enumerators and implementing nonresponse follow-up were significant innovations in the 2000 census that contributed to the timely execution of the census.
Finding 4.3: The greater reliance on imputation routines to supply values for missing and inconsistent responses in 2000, in contrast to the greater reliance on telephone and field follow-up of nonrespondents in 1990, contributed to the timely completion of the 2000 census and to containing the costs of follow-up. It is not known whether the distributions of characteristics and the relationships among characteristics that resulted from imputation (particularly of long-form content) were less accurate than the distributions and relationships that would have resulted from additional follow-up.