testing to be conducted in 2012-2016 to support census planning for 2020. Topic areas for research, evaluation, and testing that would come within the panel’s scope include questionnaire design, address updating, nonresponse follow-up, coverage follow-up, unduplication of housing units and residents, editing and imputation procedures, and other census operations. Evaluations of data quality would also be within scope….

More succinctly, the Census Bureau requests that the panel:

  • Review proposed topics for evaluations and experiments;

  • Assess the completeness and relevance of the proposed topics for evaluation and experimentation;

  • Suggest additional research topics and questions;

  • Recommend priorities;

  • Review and comment on methods for conducting evaluations and experiments; and

  • Consider what can be learned from the 2010 testing cycle to better plan research for 2020.

The panel is charged with evaluating the 2010 census research program, primarily in setting the stage for the 2020 census. As the first task, the panel was asked to review an initial list of research topics compiled by the Census Bureau, with an eye toward identifying priorities for specific experiments and evaluations in 2010. This first interim report by the panel uses the Bureau’s initial suggestions for consideration as a basis for commentary on the overall shape of the research program surrounding the 2010 census and leading up to the 2020 census. It is specifically the goal of this report to suggest priorities for the experiments to be conducted in line with the 2010 census because they are the most time-sensitive. To some observers, a two-year time span between now and the fielding of the 2010 census may seem like a long time; in the context of planning an effort as complex as the decennial census, however, it is actually quite fleeting. Experimental treatments must be specified, questionnaires must be tested and approved, and systems must be developed and integrated with standard census processes—all at the same time that the Bureau is engaged in an extensive dress rehearsal and final preparations for what has long been the federal government’s largest and most complex non-military operation. Accordingly, the Census Bureau plans to identify topics for census experiments to be finalized by winter 2007 and to have more detailed plans in place in summer 2008; this report is an early step in that effort.

Although this report is primarily about priorities for experiments, we also discuss the evaluation component of the CPEX. This is because even the basic possibilities for specific evaluations depend critically on the data that are collected during the conduct of the census itself. Hence, we offer comments about the need to finalize plans for 2010 data collection—whether in house by the Census Bureau or through its technical contractors—in order to facilitate a rich and useful evaluation program.

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