plan for the 2020 census, and to assess the Census Bureau’s overall continuing research program for the nation’s decennial censuses.
The primary purpose of this interim report is to help reduce the possible subjects for census experimentation from an initial list of 52 research topics compiled by the Census Bureau to perhaps 6, which is consistent with the size of the experimentation program in 2000. This interim report also offers broad advice on plans for evaluations of the 2010 census. The panel expects to provide fuller details of individual experiments and evaluations in its subsequent reports.
The panel identified three priority experiments for inclusion in the 2010 census to assist 2020 census planning (in one instance, there might be several related experiments): an experiment on the use of the Internet for data collection; an experiment on the use of administrative records for various census purposes; and an experiment (or set of experiments) on features of the census questionnaire.
One important opportunity for improving census quality and possibly reducing census costs in 2020 is the use of the Internet as a means of enumeration. Although Internet response was permitted (but not advertised) in the 2000 census, the Census Bureau has elected not to allow online response in 2010. The panel does not second-guess that decision, but we think that it is essential to have a full and rigorous test of Internet methodologies in the 2010 CPEX. Internet response provides important advantages for data collection, including alternate ways of presenting residence rules and concepts, increased facility for the presentation of questionnaires in foreign languages, and real-time editing. It also has the feature of immediate transmission of data, which has important benefits regarding minimizing the overlap of census data collection operations.
Recommendation 1: The Census Bureau should include, in the 2010 census, a test of Internet data collection as an alternative means of enumeration. Such a test should investigate means of facilitating Internet response and should measure the impact on data quality, the expeditiousness of response, and the impact on the use of foreign language forms.
Another important opportunity for reducing costs and improving data quality is the use of administrative records. These are data collected as a by-product of the management of federal, state, and local governmental programs, such as birth and death records, building permit records, and welfare program records. In 2000, administrative records were the subject of an experiment intended to study their use as a complementary type of enu-