Sample Design and Survey Operations

The panel is impressed by the extent of research and development that the Census Bureau has devoted to the design and operation of the American Community Survey (ACS) throughout 10 years of testing and partial implementation. Given that the ACS has just been fully implemented and given its complex design, it will continue to require a high level of research, evaluation, and experimentation that can not only inform users and ACS managers, but also lead, as appropriate, to modifications that increase the quality and usefulness of the data and the efficiency of the survey operations. Such research needs to systematically evaluate various aspects of the survey in the context of full implementation and also to address unforeseen problems that may arise in data collection and processing.

The sections of this chapter address the following specific aspects of the ACS sample design and operations that, in the panel’s judgment, require continued research, evaluation, and experimentation by the Census Bureau:

  • Sampling operations for housing units, including initial sampling using the Master Address File (MAF) as the sampling frame and subsampling for nonresponding housing units;

  • Data collection for housing units, including mode of data collection and residence rules;

  • Sampling and data collection for group quarters; and

  • Data preparation, including confidentiality protection, collapsing of tables for large sampling errors, inflation adjustments, tabula-

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