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costs. Enabling field representatives to collect information about a housing unit that was included in the GQ sample has also been considered. However, cases that are encountered in the “wrong” sample are still closed out as ineligible in both samples, without respondent-level data being collected.

A state-of-the-art MAF, which would be a truly comprehensive and up-to-date inventory of all living quarters in the United States, would allow the Census Bureau to step back and consider what a survey of the U.S. population would look like if the difficulties associated with keeping the sampling frames current were not one of the primary considerations in the sample design. If an overarching sampling frame could be developed and maintained (perhaps treating group quarters as a stratum), then residence in a GQ facility could be treated similarly to any other population characteristic. The emphasis could be placed on the real differences associated with GQ type rather than on an either/or, household/nonhousehold designation.


Although a major reconceptualization of the GQ classifications may not be feasible at this time, it is still important to consider the question of whether the sampling design—which relies on two separate samples, one for housing units and one for group quarters—is equally efficient for every GQ type. As discussed, the sampling frame performs particularly poorly for some GQ types, and keeping the list current will always be more challenging for some types of group quarters, which tend to go in and out of business or change profile frequently.

The panel thinks that strictly separating the entire GQ facility sample from the housing unit sample could be reconsidered. Feedback from data users about the importance of total population data underscores the benefits of continuing to include the group quarters in the ACS. However, some GQ types, or group quarters of a certain size, might sensibly be dropped from the GQ sample, and instead the data collection for these facilities could be performed as part of the housing unit data collection. This could be accomplished without affecting the population universe or modifying the specific GQ categories that are covered by the ACS. In other words, group quarters that are currently part of the ACS could continue to be included as group quarters. This approach would require a closer integration between the two data collections, including the development of procedures to enable field representatives to collect data from GQ residents in what are believed to be housing units (beyond what is currently collected to ascertain GQ type). However, once the integration is accomplished, the problem of GQ cases being deemed out of scope—at the cost of substantial fieldwork—because they are in the wrong sample should be reduced.

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