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Using the American Community Survey: Benefits and Challenges
applications, similar to the study commissioned by HUD (ORC Macro, 2002).
Consider how often to analyze updated ACS estimates in light of the agency’s needs and resources. For example, it is unlikely that updates of small-area data analyses can be conducted more than twice a decade, nor may it be effective or efficient to do so.
Determine if any special tabulations will be needed from the Census Bureau, develop detailed specifications for them, and discuss feasibility and costs with the Census Bureau well in advance. For example, areas with large seasonal populations may want to request special tabulations.
Determine whether and how additional data sources may be helpful in some applications of ACS data. For example, a state might want to use administrative records information in conjunction with ACS estimates in fund allocation formulas.
Determine if model-based or composite estimates that are developed from the ACS and other data sources by statistical agencies could support particular applications, thereby saving on the program agency’s technical resources.
Request that the Census Bureau inform users of helpful guides that are developed by State Data Centers and other organizations and individuals to assist users—for example, the recent publication, American Community Survey Data for Community Planning (Taeuber, 2006).
c. Steps to work with public officials, the media, and other constituents:
Develop templates for appropriate interpretative language to use in press releases and talking points about each summer’s issuance of the latest ACS estimates from the Census Bureau. Given that the media and public officials will inevitably want to compare trends across time and levels across areas using the most recent estimates regardless of their precision, the agency technical staff should develop suitably cautionary language to include in statements by public officials and in speaking with the media.
Develop standard formats for tables to provide to constituent groups (for example, neighborhood advisory commissions or council members in a city or county). Be sure to include appropriate explanatory material about sampling error and other aspects of the data.