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Reengineering the 2010 Census: Risks and Challenges
the census long form but will provide estimates in a more timely manner.
Early Integrated Planning. The Census Bureau hopes that early attention to planning will make census tests leading up to 2010 more informative and useful.
The Census Bureau’s emerging 2010 census plan also includes the development of portable computing devices (PCDs) for use in nonresponse follow-up work and the increased use of multiple response modes (mail, Internet, and telephone).
CENSUS REENGINEERING: A PROCESS AT RISK
The Census Bureau has advanced an ambitious vision for the 2010 decennial census and—as our previous reports and the balance of this report suggest—the panel strongly supports the major aims of the plan. The implementation of the ACS and, with it, the separation of the long form from the census process are very good concepts; the Bureau’s address and geographic databases are in dire need of comprehensive update; and the implementation of new technologies in census-taking is crucial to improving the accuracy of the count. There is much to like about the emerging plans for the 2010 census, and we strongly support these efforts toward a modernized and improved census in 2010. To this end, the Census Bureau’s focus on planning early in the decennial cycle is highly commendable.
However, based on the information available, the panel finds that the reengineering of the 2010 census is a process at high risk. The major initiatives of the 2010 census plan—the MAF/TIGER Enhancements Program and the American Community Survey—are intended to reduce operational risk in the census in the long term. However, their implementation in the short term necessarily creates unique risks and challenges. In addition, adoption of new technology is inherently risky, particularly when done on the tight schedule and large scale of the decennial census.
To be clear, our conclusion that the reengineering of the 2010 census is a process at risk should not be interpreted as a conclusion that the 2010 census is irrevocably headed for serious