the use of the Internet for data collection; an experiment on the use of administrative records for various census purposes; and an experiment (or set of experiments) on features of the census questionnaire.
One important opportunity for improving census quality and possibly reducing census costs in 2020 is the use of the Internet as a means of enumeration. Although Internet response was permitted (but not advertised) in the 2000 census, the Census Bureau has elected not to allow online response in 2010. The panel does not second-guess that decision, but we think that it is essential to have a full and rigorous test of Internet methodologies in the 2010 CPEX. Internet response provides important advantages for data collection, including alternate ways of presenting residence rules and concepts, increased facility for the presentation of questionnaires in foreign languages, and real-time editing. It also has the feature of immediate transmission of data, which has important benefits regarding minimizing the overlap of census data collection operations.
RECOMMENDATION 1: The Census Bureau should include, in the 2010 census, a test of Internet data collection as an alternative means of enumeration. Such a test should investigate means of facilitating Internet response and should measure the impact on data quality, the expeditiousness of response, and the impact on the use of foreign language forms.
Another important opportunity for reducing costs and improving data quality is the use of administrative records. These are data collected as a by-product of the management of federal, state, and local governmental programs, such as birth and death records, building permit records, and welfare program records. In 2000, administrative records were the subject of an experiment intended to study their use as a complementary type of enumeration (that is, whether person counts for some geographic areas derived from records were consistent with census returns). However, administrative records could be used more broadly to assist a number of census tasks, including such uses as (1) to improve the Master Address File, (2) as an alternative to last-resort proxy response, (3) as an alternative to item and unit imputation, (4) to resolve duplicate search, (5) to validate edit protocols, (6) for coverage measurement and coverage evaluation, (7) for coverage improvement, and (8) to help target households for various purposes. It is important for the Census Bureau to determine, starting now, which of these various potential uses of administrative records would or would not be effective for use in 2020.
RECOMMENDATION 2: The Census Bureau should develop an experiment (or evaluation) that assesses the utility of administrative records for assistance in specific census component processes—for example, for improvement of the Master Address File, for nonresponse follow-up, for assessment of duplicate status, and for coverage improvement. In addition, either as an experiment or through evaluations, the Census Bureau should collect sufficient data to support assessment of the degree to which targeting various census processes, using administrative records, could reduce census costs or improve census quality.
Finally, given the crucial importance of the census questionnaire as a driver of census data quality, especially with regard to the nation’s data on race and ethnicity, and to correctly locate