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about how to solve the problem. Nevertheless, as enumeration. (One question that needs answering
painful as the immediate pain may be, and even in is the extent to which this local data can or should
the absence of an environment that looks to mutu- be used to supplant enumerated data.)
ally solve problems and not just place blame, an These data are a mixture of private and local gov-
agency should always be as open as possible as soon ernment data. To a large extent, this is uncharted
as possible. This is not only because it is in the agen- territory and there will be significant technical and
cies’ best interest in the long run, but also because it cost considerations. In addition to these, however,
engenders mutual trust. there are many issues relating to privacy, confidenti-
In this context, there are two actions that can be ality, accuracy, and reliability that must be resolved.
helpful. The first is to build a dynamic cost model, To what extent will users have to give permission
which is not just based on indexing inflation. This for the U.S. Census Bureau to gain access to these
will be difficult because budget officers and poli- data? Should private firms be indemnified for mis-
ticians like to see stability in cost estimates. The use? What standards should be created for the accu-
tendency is to give people in authority what they racy and reliability of local data? How should they
demonstrate they want. Nevertheless, an enterprise be created? How can they then be enforced, and by
such as the decennial census, particularly if it is to whom? Will there be remedies for correction? How
be innovative, must admit to a dynamic cost model. is the privacy of the integrated information to be
This will not be easy to do and will require signifi- protected? This argues again for the need for a pub-
cant buy-in by Congress. The alternative is to defend lic consensus and for the process to begin no later
numbers developed years ago. than 2010.
The second action is to eliminate the filter that
exists between the U.S. Census Bureau and Congress
Integrating the Field Structure
and the media: the undersecretary’s office. If the direc- with Headquarters
tor of the U.S. Census Bureau was not a presidential
Of the bureau’s approximately 10,000 employees,
appointment/Senate-confirmed position, the current
half are located outside its headquarters in Suitland,
institutional arrangement might be understandable.
Maryland. During the critical operations activities of
As it exists, it serves to hinder communication between
the decennial census, this number will swell for a brief
the U.S. Census Bureau and Congress. Moreover, the
period to several hundred thousand. However, the
filter slows down decisionmaking and allows for exec-
field structure of the U.S. Census Bureau is not freshly
utive branch decisions, which are made further from
created for each decennial census. The field structure
substantive knowledge. A spokesperson for the 2020
also is given many surveys and data collections fielded
Census should be appointed in 2011. This person
by the U.S. Census Bureau, such as the Economic
should be able to speak for the director and associate
Census that is conducted every five years.
director on all matters related to the 2020 Census.
Headquarters staff members are considered to be
the planners, analysts, and methodologists, while
Integrate Administrative Data
field staff members are the doers. After the plan-
Viewed objectivity, the decennial census is an
ning is done at headquarters, it is the field staff and
impossible operation. It is not possible to make an
regional directors who have the day-to-day respon-
accurate count at the precision required by most
sibility of carrying out the decennial census. There
users, including Congress. This observation is not
should not be any disconnect between field and
new, and the problems are well-known. One of
headquarters. It is critical that these components be
them is accounting for people who live in multi-
in harmony.
family dwellings. This problem is not restricted to
Consider, for example, the introduction of new
New York City, or even the major urban areas. In
technology. As the field staff is responsible for the
fact, as economic conditions deteriorate, we will
day-to-day operation of the census, it is reasonable
find more dwellings that appear to be single-family
that they will have serious concerns about the effect
units containing more than one household.
of new technology on their operations. At the same
Often, these multi-family dwellings are not
time, it is important that the field be open to new
marked properly and are inadequately represented
approaches and that they buy into the new technol-
in post office files. In many cases, the ability of
ogy in the end. This is never easy to do and was not
enumerators to either canvass or accomplish non-
done well with the introduction of the new hand-
response follow-up is severely limited. This prob-
held technology. The 2010 Census will provide an
lem is likely to increase by the 2020 Census. One of
opportunity to learn lessons that can be used to
the tasks of the newly appointed associate director
rethink how the field and headquarters structures
of the 2020 Census is to begin a program that will
and missions can be better integrated and more
result in models that use local administrative data—
mutually supportive. The program to do this can
including inter alia, water, sewer, electricity, school,
probably not start before 2011.
tax, and property data—to augment the attempted
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