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Envisioning the 2020 Census
sus planning. The Bureau therefore requested a study from a panel convened by the National Academies Committee on National Statistics to review the 2010 Census Program of Experiments and Evaluations (CPEX) so that it would provide a strong basis for 2020 census planning. The panel was charged to:
consider priorities for evaluation and experimentation in the 2010 census. [The panel] will also consider the design and documentation of the Master Address File and operational databases to facilitate research and evaluation, the design of experiments to embed in the 2010 census, the design of evaluations of the 2010 census processes, and what can be learned from the pre-2010 testing that was conducted in 2003– 2006 to enhance the 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.
Together, the panel’s interim and letter reports (included in this volume as Parts II and III) fulfill the core mandate of this charge to assess the 2010 CPEX program. In those reports, the panel generally concluded that the specific experiments chosen by the Census Bureau for the 2010 CPEX are not likely to inform changes that will substantially affect either census cost or quality in 2020, and so largely squander a valuable testing opportunity. Moreover, the panel concluded that the ability to evaluate the 2010 census (apart from or in addition to the formal CPEX evaluations) will depend on the Census Bureau’s ability to retain input and output data from each 2010 census operation, for later linkage and analysis.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOR ACOST-EFFECTIVE 2020 CENSUS
This final report builds on the panel’s earlier work by discussing census experimentation and evaluation in a broader context. In particular, this report describes a strategy for research and development (R&D) leading to a 2020 census design that controls costs, maintains quality, and adapts to major social and technological changes. An effective research and development strategy for the 2020 census should keep a goal of containing costs while maintaining quality; it should also recognize that new technical advances may not only reduce costs, but also drive them up, so that research and effective cost modeling are necessary to determine how best to use such advances for the most cost-effective census.