computer center in Bowie, Maryland; 12 regional census centers and the Puerto Rico Area Office; the Bureau’s permanent National Processing Center in Jeffersonville, Indiana; 3 contracted data capture centers in Phoenix, Arizona, Pomona, California, and Baltimore County, Maryland; 520 local census offices; and contracted telephone centers for questionnaire assistance (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999b:XI-1).

Five operations in 2000 are described in this section: data capture, coverage edit and telephone follow-up, unduplication, editing and imputation, and other data processing. Data processing operations for 1990 are also summarized.

C.5.a Data Capture

The first step in data processing was to check in the questionnaires and capture the data on them in computerized form. The return address on mailback questionnaires directed them to one of four data capture centers—the Bureau’s National Processing Center and three run by contractors. Each questionnaire had a bar code that was scanned to record its receipt. The questionnaires were then imaged electronically, check-box data items were read by optical mark recognition (OMR), and write-in character-based data items were read by optical character recognition (OCR). Clerks keyed data from images in cases when the automated technology could not make sense of the data. Keying of the additional long-form-sample items was deferred until fall 2000 to permit the fastest possible processing of the basic (complete-count) data from short and long forms.

C.5.b Coverage Edit and Telephone Follow-Up

The data on mailed-back questionnaires were reviewed by computer to identify those returns that failed coverage edit specifications. These failed-edit cases were reinterviewed by telephone, using contractor-provided clerical telephone staff. The workload for the coverage edit and telephone follow-up operation totaled about 2.3 million cases. It included returns that reported more, or fewer, household members in question one (“How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2000?”) than the number of members for which individual informa-



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