through 2002, culminating in a third Census Bureau decision against adjustment, this time in March 2003 and related to adjustment of census data for use in deriving postcensal population estimates. The Census Bureau’s final estimates suggested a national net overcount of 0.48 percent (1.3 million persons), with continued differential undercount among some racial groups.

Flaws arose in the conduct of the 2000 census, as they inevitably arise in every census; however, the 2000 census was ultimately successful in meeting its statutory deadlines for providing data for reapportionment and redistricting. It was also successful in curbing the trend of past censuses toward lower overall mail return rates, among other accomplishments. That said, the process by which the 2000 census plan developed leaves considerable room for improvement. The final design for the 2000 census was put into place an inadvisably short time before the census had to go into the field. Looking ahead to 2010, both the Bureau and outside observers hope to avoid the risks and bruising consequences of late-formed plans, while at the same time keeping in check the escalating costs of conducting a census of the complex U.S. population.


In the early planning stages, the Census Bureau identified four basic goals for the 2010 census (Waite, 2002; Angueira, 2003b):

  1. increase the relevance and timeliness of census long-form data;

  2. reduce operational risk;

  3. improve the coverage accuracy of the census; and

  4. contain costs.

Based on these goals, the Census Bureau developed a general strategy for the 2010 census even as 2000 census returns were still being processed. As first described to the panel at its December 2000 meeting, the Bureau’s general strategy for 2010

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