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Recommendations For the reader's convenience, we present all the panel's recommendations, keyed to the chapters in which they appear. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Recommendation 1.1: In assessing the design innovations included in the 1995 census test or other research and development, the Census Bureau should place great emphasis on cost-benefit analysis as part of the overall evaluation leading to implementation decisions for the 2000 census. Requirements for evaluating new data collection methodologies in the 1995 census test should include information on such characteristics as cost, yield, and gross error that are needed to inform cost-benefit judgments. CHAPTER 2 PRELIMINARY CENSUS DESIGN ISSUES Recommendation 2.1: The Census Bureau should continue aggressive develop- ment of the TIGER (topologically integrated geographic encoding and referenc- ing) system, the Master Address File (MAP), and integration of these two sys- tems. MAF/TIGER updating activities for the 1995 census test sites should be completed in time to permit the use and evaluation of the MAF/TIGER system as part of the 1995 census test. Recommendation 2.2: The Census Bureau should continue its research program 203
204 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE on record linkage in support of the 1995 census test and the 2000 census. Efforts should include studies of the effectiveness of different matching keys (e.g., name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number) and the establishment of requirements for such components as address standardization, parsing, and string comparators. Existing record linkage technology should be tested and evaluated in the 1995 census test. Recommendation 2.3: In view of the operational advantages that are likely to result, the panel endorses the proposed change in census reference date from April 1 to the first Saturday in March. Furthermore, we recommend that chang- ing the census reference date from early in the month to midmonth (e.g., the second Saturday in March) be reconsidered if subsequent modifications to the mailout operation would permit all census mailings to be executed within the same calendar month using a midmonth reference date. Recommendation 2.4: The Statistical Policy Office of the Office of Manage- ment and Budget should develop a structure to permit the sharing of address lists among federal agencies and state and local governments including the Census Bureau and the Postal Service-for approved uses under appropriate conditions. CHAPTER 3 RESPONSE AND COVERAGE Recommendation 3.1: A program of research extending beyond the 1995 cen- sus test should aim to reduce coverage errors within households by reducing response errors (e.g., by using an extended roster form). This research should also evaluate the impact of these new approaches on gross and net coverage errors, as well as assess the effects on coverage of obtaining enumerations using different instrument modalities (e.g., paper and computer-assisted) and different interview modes (e.g., paper instrument completed by household respondent and by enumerator). Recommendation 3.2: The Census Bureau should use the 1995 census test and subsequent tests to inform the design of the 800 number call-in system for the 2000 census. The Census Bureau should focus on the public's response to the menu-driven call-routing system, acceptance of the computer-administered inter- view, possible differential mode effects between a computer-administered inter- view and one administered by an interviewer, and the technical feasibility of administering interviews using voice recognition and voice recording. The Cen- sus Bureau should also develop and implement a monitoring system in these tests to collect operational and cost data on the call-in program. Recommendation 3.3: The Census Bureau should expand the research program
RECOMMENDATIONS 205 Involving the acquisition of telephone numbers for MAP addresses by working with more companies that offer electronic directory services and developing an optimal protocol for matching addresses. If the Census Bureau is able to acquire unlisted telephone numbers for a 1995 census test site, it should carefully monitor the results obtained from calling households with unlisted numbers. Recommendation 3.4: The Census Bureau should consider developing an ex- tensive network of relations between field offices and local community resources, particularly in hard-to-enumerate areas, and should examine the cost-effective- ness of maintaining this infrastructure in continuous operation between censuses. The Census Bureau should develop and implement pilot programs in conjunction with the 1995 census test in order to gather information about the potential costs and benefits of a large-scale local outreach program. Recommendation 3.5: The Census Bureau should conduct further comparative studies of hard-to-enumerate areas, focusing on those parts of the country where three phenomena coincide: a shortage of affordable housing, a high proportion of undocumented immigrants, and the presence of low-income neighborhoods. Recommendation 3.6: In the 1995 census test, the Census Bureau should in- clude a larger repertoire of foreign-language materials than those currently avail- able in Spanish (both written and audio). In addition, the Census Bureau should conduct more aggressive hiring of community-based enumerators (with due con- sideration of local concerns about the confidentiality of census responses) and should accommodate greater flexibility in the timing of enumeration by personal visit (i.e., permitting contact during evenings and weekends). Recommendation 3.7: We endorse the Census Bureau's plans to conduct, in the 1995 census test, enumeration at service providers (e.g., shelters and soup kitch- ens) as a method for counting persons with no usual residence (and possibly migrant workers). The Census Bureau should consider conducting enumeration of streets and other public places on a sample basis at each of the test sites for the purpose of coverage assessment. Recommendation 3.8: The Census Bureau should undertake a program of re- search in cognitive anthropology, sociology, and psychology that will contribute to the development of more acceptable racial and ethnic identification questions. Recommendation 3.9: The Census Bureau should assign overall responsibility for decennial census outreach and promotion to a centralized, permanent office. The Census Bureau should consider expanding the mission of the extant Public Information Office to include this charge. Evaluation of outreach and promotion programs should be conducted by an independent unit within the Census Bureau.
206 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE Recommendation 3.10: The Census Bureau should evaluate the costs and ben- efits of alternatives to the use of the Advertising Council to conduct the 2000 census media campaign. Some alternative options are working directly with local and regional agencies, undertaking paid media research, and supplementing pro bono advertising with paid advertising in hard-to-enumerate localities. Recommendation 3.11: The Census Bureau should evaluate the programs for state and local cooperation that will be overseen by census advisors in the 1995 census test areas in order to collect from these experimental initiatives those programs most likely to (a) reduce the cost of the decennial census (particularly by improving mail response rates) and (b) reduce the differential undercount. Preservation of the Census Awareness and Products Program should, however, be a high priority, not to be superseded by this new initiative for improving state and local cooperation. CHAPTER 4 SAMPLING AND STATISTICAL ESTIMATION Recommendation 4.1: Sampling for nonresponse follow-up could produce ma- jor cost savings in 2000. The Census Bureau should test nonresponse follow-up sampling in 1995 and collect data that allows evaluation of (1) follow-up of all nonrespondents during a truncated period of time, combined with the use of sampling during a subsequent period of follow-up of the remaining non- respondents, and (2) the use of administrative records to improve estimates for nonsampled housing units. Recommendation 4.2: Differential undercount cannot be reduced to acceptable levels at acceptable costs without the use of integrated coverage measurement and the statistical methods associated with it. We endorse the use of integrated coverage measurement as an essential part of census-taking in the 2000 census. Recommendation 4.3: The Census Bureau should investigate during the 1995 census test whether the CensusPlus field operation can attain excellent coverage in CensusPlus blocks without contaminating the regular enumeration in those blocks. If substantial problems are identified, CensusPlus should not be selected as the field methodology for integrated coverage measurement in the 2000 census unless clearly effective corrective measures can be implemented within the re- search and development schedule. Recommendation 4.4: Whatever method for integrated coverage measurement is used in 2000, the Census Bureau should ensure that a sufficiently large sample is taken so that the single set of counts provides the accuracy needed by data users at pertinent levels of geography.
RECOMMENDATIONS 207 Recommendation 4.5: The Census Bureau should prepare alternative sample designs for integrated coverage measurement with varying levels of support for direct state estimation. The provision of direct state estimates should be evalu- ated in terms of the relative costs and the consequent loss of accuracy in popula- tion estimates for other geographic areas or subpopulations of interest. Recommendation 4.6: The panel endorses the continued use of demographic analysis as an evaluation tool in the decennial census. However, the present state of development does not support a prominent role for demographic methods in the production of official population totals as part of integrated coverage mea- surement in the 2000 census. The Census Bureau should continue research to develop subnational demographic estimates, with particular attention to potential links between demographic analysis and further development of the continuous measurement prototype and the administrative records census option. Recommendation 4.7: Before the census, the Census Bureau should produce detailed documentation of statistical methodology to be used for estimation and modeling. After the census, the Census Bureau should document how the method- ology was applied empirically and should provide evaluation of the methodology. Recommendation 4.8: The Census Bureau should develop methods for measur- ing and modeling all sources of error in the census and for showing uncertainty in published tabulations or otherwise enabling users to estimate uncertainty. Recommendation 4.9: The Census Bureau should vigorously pursue research on statistical estimation now and throughout the decade. Topics should include nonresponse follow-up sampling, coverage estimation, incorporation of varied information sources (including administrative records), and indirect estimation for small areas. CHAPTER 5 ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS Recommendation 5.1: Legislation that requires or authorizes the creation of individual record systems for administrative purposes should not create unneces- sary barriers to legitimate statistical uses of the records, including important uses not directly related to the programs that the records were developed to serve. Preferably, such legislation should explicitly allow for such uses, subject to strong protection of the confidentiality of individual information. The panel urges Con- gress, in considering legislation relevant to health care reform, not to foreclose possible uses of health care enrollment records for the decennial censuses and other basic demographic statistical programs.
208 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE Recommendation 5.2: To facilitate statistical uses of new health record sys- tems, the responsible executive branch agencies should invite the Census Bureau and other federal statistical agencies to participate actively in the development of content and access provisions for these record systems. Recommendation 5.3: The Office of Management and Budget should review identifiers, especially addresses, and demographic data items currently included in major administrative record systems with a view to promoting standardization and facilitation of statistical uses of information about individuals both in these record systems and in new ones that may be developed. Recommendation 5.4: The Census Bureau, in cooperation with other agencies and organizations, should support a program of research on public views about statistical uses of administrative records in government. The research should focus on public reaction to very specific administrative record use scenarios, rather than on general questions of privacy. Recommendation 5.5: Research on the production of population estimates from Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration records should con- tinue as a joint initiative of these agencies with the Census Bureau and should focus on identifying measures that could serve to reduce coverage differentials and improve geographic precision. Recommendation 5.6: The Census Bureau should continue its development of a cost model for an administrative record census and should use the model to maintain current cost estimates for several versions of this option as they are developed. Recommendation 5.7: During the 2000 census the Census Bureau should test one or more designs for an administrative records census in selected areas. Plan- ning for this testing should begin immediately. Recommendation 5.8: The Census Bureau should plan its uses of administra- tive records in the 1995 census test and other tests leading up to the 2000 census and in the census itself in a manner that will also provide knowledge and experi- ence of value for a possible administrative records census in 2010 or beyond and for uses of administrative records in demographic programs other than the census. Recommendation 5.9: In maintaining and updating its Administrative Records Information System, the Census Bureau should give high priority to the acquisi- tion of detailed information about record systems that are being developed to support health care reform at the state level. The Census Bureau should seek
RECOMMENDATIONS 209 early opportunities to obtain and use health enrollment records in one or more states and should plan for experimental uses of these records as part of the 2000 census. Recommendation 5.10: The Census Bureau should substantially increase the scope of its efforts to use administrative records to produce intercensal small-area tabulations, either through stand-alone tabulations of data from one or more administrative record sources or by combining such data with data from current surveys. Recommendation 5.11: The panel urges the Census Bureau to adopt a proactive policy to expand its uses of administrative records, and it urges other executive branch agencies and Congress to give their support to such a policy. CHAPTER 6 ALTERNATIVES FOR LONG-FORM DATA COLLECTION Recommendation 6.1: The panel endorses further research and evaluation of a continuous measurement program. In conducting this work, the Census Bureau should establish, and continually reinforce, a commitment to simultaneous re- search and development of cost estimation, data collection and processing meth- ods, estimation procedures, and user needs. Recommendation 6.2: The Census Bureau should initiate discussions with all potential users of continuous measurement data, including state and local govern- ments and private-sector users. A research program should be developed to an- swer user questions. The Census Bureau should also develop a program to inform data users of the simulated data products emerging from the test surveys and to get their reactions. Recommendation 6.3: The Census Bureau should evaluate the gains in accu- racy that may be offered by continuous measurement for estimates of various characteristics at varying levels of geography. In making accuracy assessments, the Census Bureau should take full advantage of simulations, based on existing census and survey data, to provide realistic scenarios for the changes in estimates over time. As part of its outreach program, the Census Bureau should provide long-form data users with accompanying estimates of bias and precision for various geographic levels and aggregations of one to five years of data. Recommendation 6.4: The Census Bureau should work to improve cost esti- mates to determine more accurately the marginal cost of using a continuous measurement survey in place of the decennial census long-form questions. This work should include a program of research and test surveys to refine assumptions required to estimate costs.
210 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE Recommendation 6.5: The panel endorses the Census Bureau's plan to investi- gate the impact of form length and content on mail response rates in the 1995 census test. Even if the operational feasibility of multiple sample forms is con- firmed in the 1995 census test, the Census Bureau should not introduce matrix sampling without undertaking further research. Such research should be assigned low priority relative to other decennial census research projects.