National Academies Seeks Experts to Assess 2020 U.S. Census

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The 2020 Census in the United States easily set a record for being the most controversial count in modern times, with political (think the so-called ‘citizenship question’ that was eventually scuttled) and then operational (the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a delay in field operations) issues dogging the decennial process. Even Robert Santos, then the president-elect of the American Statistical Association and now the nominee to head the Census Bureau, would say he expected the 2020 Census “to be one of the most flawed censuses in history.”

While time will tell if Santos was right, but the National Academies’ Committee on National Statistics aims to help time come up with an answer. CNSTAT is seeking nominations for members of an ad hoc consensus study panel — sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau — to review and evaluate the quality of the 2020 Census. The panel is to prepare a report that includes conclusions about the quality of the data collected in the 2020 Census and makes recommendations for further research by the Census Bureau to evaluate the quality of the 2020 data and to begin planning the 2030 Census. An interim report with initial findings and conclusions is expected within nine months and a final report with recommendations concerning the 2020 Census and planning for the 2030 Census within 24 months.

The deadline for nominations is tight – the National Academies says nominations will receive maximum consideration if submitted by Friday, May 14. A nomination form can be found HERE. For additional questions, contact Daniel Cork

This study is intended as a thorough operational and procedural review of the 2020 Census, to both assess the trustworthiness of the 2020 Census data products and to provide solid ground for the testing and experimentation that will lead to the 2030 Census. Accordingly, the study will review Census Bureau process measures and data quality indicators, contrasting the data with alternative estimates (post-enumeration survey, demographic analysis, administrative records) and comparing with the 2010 Census and other historical census benchmarks.

In constituting the panel, CNSTAT seeks a full range of perspectives. The panel should include investigators who are steeped in the workings of the decennial census as well as those with fresh viewpoints but little previous experience with the census. Specific areas of expertise sought for the study include but are not limited to:

•           Survey and census methodology, including management of large-scale survey field operations;

•           Statistical and data science experience in the federal statistical system and in state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies;

•           Geography and population demography, including address list building and maintenance, generation of legal/political/service district boundaries, and assessment of special populations; and

•           Systems engineering, operations research and evaluation, and methods for ensuring privacy and confidentiality.

It is anticipated that the panel’s work will build from but also at least partially dovetail with other assessments, including the Census Bureau’s own program of experiments and evaluations and the American Statistical Association’s task force on census quality indicators.

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