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Change and the 2020 Census: Not Whether But How
especially its Master Address File (MAF), are continuallyup-to-date and not dependent on once-a-decade overhauls.
Second, we suggest that the Bureau take an aggressive, assertive posture toward research in these priority areas:
Recommendation 2:The Census Bureau should commit to implement, in the 2020 census, strategic changes in each of thefour priority areas identified in Recommendation 1. The manner of implementing them should be guided by research on howeach type of change may influence the trade-off between censusaccuracy and cost.
We think that this approach is the most effective way to build the research and evidentiary base for the 2020 census plan.
Third, we see the setting of bold goals as essential to underscoring the need for serious reengineering and building commitment to change. Accordingly, we urge the Bureau to publicly set ambitious goals regarding the cost and quality of the 2020 census:
Recommendation 3:The Census Bureau should motivate itsplanning and reengineering for the 2020 census by setting a clearand publicly announced goal to reduce significantly (and not justcontain) the inflation-adjusted per housing unit cost relative to2010 census totals, while limiting the extent of gross and netcensus errors to levels consistent with both user needs and costtargets. This should take into account both overall national coverage errors and regional variations in them.
Within each of the four topic areas listed in Recommendation 1, the report briefly sketches high-priority research projects. In terms of field reengineering, the important task is to approach census-taking with something closer to a blank-sheet approach using modern operations engineering as the focus; articulation of the logical architecture for the census would help maintain a focus on functionality and requirements for technical systems, an area in which the Census Bureau stumbled in the development for 2010. On response options, it is most essential that the Census Bureau fully and openly monitor the implementations of Internet response options in other national censuses, particularly the aggressive “wave methodology” to be used in the 2011 census of Canada. In administrative records, the important task is to complete the Bureau’s planned match of 2010 census returns with its current administrative records data system, compiled from seven federal agency contributors, but—in doing so—to get beyond the question of whether an “administrative records census” (substituting records for enumeration) is feasible and instead to find ways for administrative data to supplement the whole range of census operations. Finally, with respect to improving the Census Bureau’s geographic resources, steps toward processes under which state,