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Using the American Community Survey: Benefits and Challenges
Planning Association, the Association of Public Data Users, the American Association of Public Opinion Research, the Transportation Research Board, the American Library Association);
major state and local government organizations (for example, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Governors Association, the National Association of State Legislatures, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Towns and Townships, the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations);
local and regional councils of governments and planning agencies (for example, groups concerned with regional transportation plans and environmental issues);
not-for-profit groups (local chapters of the United Way, Red Cross, United Hospital Fund);
the media (for example, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., and that organization’s computer-assisted reporting program); and
other for-profit and not-for-profit groups, such as market research professionals, associations of health professionals, social service agencies, and the variety of groups that serve special populations, such as the disabled, farm workers, veterans, and immigrants.
The involvement of the SDC network is of critical importance since the SDCs will be on the front line of answering information requests for 2010 census and ACS data. The SDCs must be able to effectively present ACS data and assist data users, including making the data understandable to users with a very wide range of experience and expertise. The SDC steering committee is already focusing its efforts on “training the trainers,” so that SDCs have sufficient knowledge to then train the entire network of 1,800 organizations and general data users that they serve. In addition, individual SDCs have already developed helpful explanatory materials for the 2005 ACS data products (see, for example, “Ten Things to Know About the American Community Survey, 2005 Edition,” prepared by the Missouri Census Data Center).1 To move this initiative forward, the Census Bureau should support and encourage local hands-on workshops on the applications of ACS data. At least some of these workshops should be done in coordination with SDC affiliates so that best practices are provided for local users. These workshops can be the basis of an education network that, once established, can serve as an efficient information-sharing mechanism between the Census Bureau and the data user community.
In general, training courses can be developed at many different levels and for many different groups. Some can be in the form of tutorials, to be