sential that its sampling frame—the MAF—be as complete and accurate as possible and that it be updated on a continuous basis in all areas of the country. The panel is concerned about the quality of the MAF updating, not only in areas with city-style addresses (house number and street name—see Section A.4.a below), but also in rural areas (see Section A.4.b; see also National Research Council, 2004a, which raises many of the same points).

The MAF in Urban Areas

The MAF updating for city-style-address areas between censuses depends almost entirely on the USPS DSF, for which the Census Bureau receives updated versions every 6 months. The DSF is a mail delivery file and is not meant to be a complete address list. Research conducted prior to the 2000 census indicated that the DSF is deficient as a source for the MAF in urban areas in at least three respects (see U.S. General Accounting Office, 1998:17-18):

  1. The DSF misses many addresses in new construction areas, where it takes time to establish separate mailboxes and mailing addresses.

  2. Portions of the DSF are not updated at the same rate all around the country.

  3. The DSF often does not clearly identify addresses in small multi-unit structures—in many of these units, mail may be delivered to a central hall or desk and not to the individual apartments.

These deficiencies in the DSF led to a decision by the Census Bureau for the 2000 census to conduct a complete canvass of all 8.2 million blocks in 1999 in order to bolster the completeness of the 2000 Decennial Master Address File. Previously, the Census Bureau had planned to conduct a complete canvass only in rural areas and to spot-check addresses in urban areas.

For the 2010 census, the Panel on Research on Future Census Methods (National Research Council, 2004a) recommended partnerships with state, local, and tribal governments to collect address list and geographic information throughout the decade in order to reduce the need for block canvassing in 2009, but such partnerships were not developed. Instead, the Census Bureau plans to repeat the very costly complete block canvass operation in 2009. It also plans to conduct a Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program in 2008, in which local governments are given the opportunity to review and update the residential address listings for their jurisdiction, similar to a LUCA program conducted just prior to the 2000 census.4


The 2000 LUCA program experienced scheduling and communication problems, and participation was spotty across the country (National Research Council, 2004b:145).

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