search and less in completely documenting their results. This is partly due to availability of information—particularly for the earlier censuses, methodological details are scant in the literature—and partly because documenting the full “results” of major field tests such as census dress rehearsals is simply beyond the scope of our project. Our interest in the appendix and this chapter is in describing general contours and features of census research and not on assessing the merits (or lack thereof) of each specific activity.
Second—and more fundamentally—we deliberately do not delve into the details of the coverage measurement programs that have accompanied the decennial censuses (save for formative developments in the earliest decades). We concur with our predecessor National Research Council panels that have found the Census Bureau’s coverage measurement programs to be generally of high quality. In particular, the Panel to Review the 2000 Census concluded that coverage measurement work in 2000 “exhibited an outstanding level of creativity and productivity devoted to a very complex problem” and that it showed “praiseworthy thoroughness of documentation and explanation for every step of the effort” (National Research Council, 2004a:244, 245). We also direct interested readers to the final report of another National Research Council (2008a) panel that had coverage measurement research as its explicit charge, which is not the case for our panel. Given our charge, we have focused our own analysis principally on research and development related to census operations; accordingly, it is important to note that our comments on “census research” in what follows should not be interpreted as applying to the Census Bureau’s extensive body of coverage measurement research.
In our assessment, the Census Bureau’s current approach to research and development (R&D), as it applies to decennial census operations, is unfocused and ineffective. The Census Bureau’s most recent research programs suffer from what one of our predecessor panels described as a “serious disconnect between research and operations in the census processes” (National Research Council, 2004b:45):
Put another way, the Census Bureau’s planning and research entities operate too often at either a very high level of focus (e.g., articulation of the “three-legged stool” concept for the 2010 census) or at a microlevel that tends toward detailed accounting without much analysis…. What is lacking is research, evaluation, and planning that bridges these two levels, synthesizing the detailed results in order to determine their implications for planning while structuring high-level operations in order to facilitate meaningful detailed analysis. Justifying and sustaining the 2010 census plan requires both research that is forward-looking and