households and for contact with households that refused. Thus the panel focused on costs for completed interviews/diaries, making the assumption that the cost for screening and refusals would not vary greatly between prototypes. Following several conference calls with BLS and Census staff, the panel approximated the “budget neutral” amount for data collection for completed interviews/diaries as $16 million. This figure may not be very accurate, but it gives a base from which to make projections.

The panel used component costs provided by BLS for completed interviews and diary placements as a guide to provide very basic cost parameters (assumptions) for each prototype. The panel speculated on other costs. These cost parameters are provided in the report with the description of each prototype under Sample Size and Cost. The cost parameters were combined to create an estimated “average cost per sample” for each prototype. Box 6-1 provides the example of calculating this cost for Design A. This average cost was divided into the total cost to calculate an annual effective (completed) sample size. This number was rounded to avoid suggesting greater accuracy than this process could produce.

Table 6-4 provides a comparison of cost and possible sample size between the current CE and the three prototype designs. It is extremely important to note that these costs are for data collection only and for a mature data collection process. Any major redesign has many additional

    Design B by Components
  Design A Base Intensive Subsample Total
Sample size—Households (respondents) 18,700 12,200 800 12,400
Total collections across waves (respondents) 37,400 36,600 1,600 38,200
Weeks covered by direct reporting of expenditures 448,800 878,400 0 878,400
Incentives per household $200 $300 $300 $319
Cost—Total (respondents only—75% response rate) $16,000,000 $13,900,000 $2,100,000 $16,000,000
Cost—Per responding household $853 $1,138 $2,625 $1,311

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