including the mode of collection (mail, telephone, personal visit) and residence rules; (3) sampling and data collection for group quarters; and (4) treatment of the data, including disclosure avoidance, collapsing of tables to improve precision, inflation adjustments for income and housing costs, the population universe and geographic areas for tabulations, and data quality review.

A last broad issue concerns the ultimate role of the ACS in the federal statistical system. Since the ACS has been developed to replace—and improve on—the decennial long-form sample, it is first necessary to assess the quality and usability of the ACS data products in comparison with the long-form-sample data products. The panel thinks, however, that focusing on these comparisons limits one’s perspective concerning the ultimate utility of the ACS. Instead of viewing the ACS data products as simply analogous to or as a substitute for decennial census long-form-sample data products, the panel thinks that the ACS should be viewed as an entirely new and unique source of information to support public and private decision making. ACS data can be used as input for analyses that would not be feasible with long-form-sample data products. In that context, the panel evaluated the various characteristics of the ACS and its data products with a longer term view of what the potential for the ACS will be over time, and how it can be helped toward achieving its full promise as a key component of the federal collection of individual and household demographic, social, and economic data.


Following this introduction, the panel’s report has three parts: using the ACS (Part I), technical issues (Part II), and priorities for user outreach and continued development of the ACS (Part III).

Chapters 2 and 3 in Part I are addressed to users of long-form-sample data who want to use the ACS for their applications. Chapter 2 reviews key features of the ACS design; the major advantages of the survey in terms of timeliness, frequency, and quality of data; and the major challenges of using the ACS data in terms of period estimates replacing point-in-time estimates and high levels of sampling error for small areas. This chapter is essential reading for users who will work with the ACS data. It ends with an assessment of the usefulness of the ACS.

Chapter 3 provides guidance for applying the ACS data. Through examples of key applications that currently use long-form-sample data, the chapter considers how users can work with the various ACS products for those applications and the considerations they need to take into account in deciding which products to use for their applications. Both Chapters 2 and 3 take as given the Census Bureau’s announced plans for ACS data prod-

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