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Using the American Community Survey: Benefits and Challenges
4-C.3 Data Collection for Group Quarters
For the 2006 ACS, about 18,000 GQ facilities with one or more hits are in the sample (about 20,000 hits). Of these facilities, 850 are military facilities and 148 are federal prisons. The GQ data collection for 2006 was accomplished primarily by field representative personal visits, using an automated Group Quarters Facility questionnaire and a bilingual paper ACS questionnaire for each sampled resident. The facility questionnaire is used at the only or first visit to a GQ to collect address, contact information, and type of GQ for the sampled GQ, record up to two other GQ types for a GQ, ascertain the maximum and current population at the facility, and then generate the person-level sample. The individual GQ resident questionnaire contains the same person items as the household questionnaire but none of the housing unit questions, except for the question on receipt of food stamps.
It is clear that field representatives cannot do all of the interviewing of GQ sample persons face to face, although that is the preferred procedure. Other methods are permitted: the field representative may fill in the questionnaire by telephoning the sample person; conduct an in-person interview with a proxy, such as a relative or guardian; leave the questionnaire with the sample person to complete after ascertaining that the person is physically and mentally able to do so; or leave questionnaires with the contact person for the GQ to distribute them to sample persons and collect them after they are filled in. Any GQ contact person who is enlisted to distribute and collect questionnaires must first be sworn in as a special sworn agent of the Census Bureau, bound to protect the confidentiality of individual responses and subject to the same penalties for breach of confidentiality as regular Census Bureau employees.
4-C.4 Concerns About Group Quarters
Almost every aspect of survey operations for group quarters residents presents challenges for the Census Bureau, and successful data collection for this population requires substantial effort and resources. Feedback from ACS managers is that, after some start-up problems, the 2006 data collection for group quarters residents proceeded relatively smoothly but at considerable expense to complete a sample case. To ensure data of good quality from the GQ component of the ACS, sufficient resources must be devoted to intensive, continuing research and development to fine-tune all GQ procedures, from construction of the MAF and sampling of facilities to the collection of data from individual group quarters members, and then to rigorous control of the quality of operational procedures.
In the 2000 census, the group quarters operation was a stepchild of