U.S. Department of Commerce
June 2007
US Flag with Census Bureau seal

Department of Commerce Seal

U.S. Department of Commerce
Carlos M. Gutierrez
,
Secretary
David A. Sampson,
Deputy Secretary

Economics and Statistics Administration
Cynthia A. Glassman
,
Under Secretary
For Economic Affairs

U.S. Census Bureau
Charles Louis Kincannon
,
Director


U.S. Census Bureau Strategic Plan FY 2007-2012


Introduction

MISSION

The Census Bureau serves as the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. We honor privacy, protect confidentiality, share our expertise globally, and conduct our work openly. We are guided on this mission by our strong and capable workforce, our readiness to innovate, and our abiding commitment to our customers.

The U.S. Census Bureau is the premier source of information about the American people and the economy. More than just numbers, this information shapes important policy decisions that help improve the nation’s social and economic conditions.

The production of high quality, relevant statistical information rests on principles that the Census Bureau holds dear. Openness to user and respondent concerns, independence and neutrality, strong statistical standards, and protection of confidentiality form the foundation for the work we do. These principles are reflected in Office of Management and Budget guidelines for the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information disseminated by federal agencies.

The Census Bureau’s mission is built around large-scale surveys and censuses. Activities involve survey and questionnaire design, geographic infrastructure update, and data collection, processing, and dissemination. Research and data analysis help improve processes from data collection through dissemination.

As part of the Department of Commerce, the Census Bureau’s Strategic Plan supports the Department’s Strategic Plan.

Goal 1: Maximize U.S. competitiveness and enable economic growth for American industries, workers, and consumers.

Objective 1.3: Advance key economic and demographic data that support effective decision-making by policymakers, businesses, and the American public.

To accomplish its mission, the Census Bureau:

Through strategic planning, the Census Bureau determines how best to accomplish this mission. The Strategic Plan provides a framework for articulating program goals and builds these goals through consensus. The planning process promotes synergy, innovation, and efficiency so that the Census Bureau can achieve its objectives on or ahead of schedule and within or below budget. It represents a better way of doing business.

Programs and Activities

The Census Bureau is the largest statistical agency of the federal government. While best known for the decennial census, it conducts numerous surveys and censuses that measure changing individual and household demographics and the economic condition of the nation. Activities include:

The Challenges to the Census Bureau

The United States has a growing need for extensive, timely, and accurate data to manage the increasing complexities of its population and its economy. Expectations of and demands on the Census Bureau will continue to grow. The complexities of the population and the economy in the twenty-first century present a number of challenges for the Census Bureau. For instance:

The Census Bureau’s planning efforts have helped to define ways to address these challenges. For more information about the challenges considered in the development of this Strategic Plan, see Appendices 3 and 4.

The Census Bureau’s Strategic Plan

The Strategic Plan describes the goals and objectives that have been established to fulfill the Census Bureau’s mission. The strategic plan consists of two strategic goals and one enabling goal that support the work and workforce. Strategic objective one, which includes the 2010 Census, is effective through FY 2013, reflecting the full-cycle budget period. Strategic objectives two, three, four, and five, and the enabling goal are effective from FY 2007 through FY 2012.

The Census Bureau’s first strategic goal is to "Provide benchmark measures of the U.S. population, economy, and governments." The Census Bureau’s second strategic goal is to "Provide current measures of the U.S. population, economy, and governments."

The strategic objectives are as follows:

The execution of the Census Bureau’s goal-based strategy also depends on an "enabling" goal that focuses on a stable infrastructure and administrative and human resources.

The enabling goal is to "Maintain a high quality and motivated workforce and provide the environment to support them."

Goals and Objectives

STRATEGIC GOAL #1:  PROVIDE BENCHMARK MEASURES OF THE U.S. POPULATION, ECONOMY, AND GOVERNMENTS.

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 1:  MEET CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE MANDATES BY IMPLEMENTING A REENGINEERED 2010 DECENNIAL CENSUS PROGRAM THAT IS COST-EFFECTIVE, PROVIDES MORE TIMELY DATA, IMPROVES COVERAGE ACCURACY, AND REDUCES OPERATIONAL RISK.

Building on a successful Census 2000, the Census Bureau is planning a redesigned 2010 Census program that meets future needs and takes advantage of new technology. The ever-increasing demographic complexity of the United States combined with rapid changes and improvements in technology require a new approach to data collection. To meet this challenge, the Census Bureau has adopted a systematic and integrated strategy for the 2010 Census.

Three critical components support the 2010 Census:

Objective 1.1:  By FY 2010, provide a reliable annual replacement for the long-form portion of the 2010 Census using the American Community Survey.

The American Community Survey is conducted nationwide in every part of the country (using a national sample size of 250,000 households per month) to move traditional once-a-decade long-form data collection out of the 2010 count and into a continuous data collection and publication activity. Implementation of the American Community Survey allows the 2010 Census to focus solely on short-form data collection and coverage. Ultimately, the success of the American Community Survey will be its ability to meet the needs of data users who have historically had to rely on the once-a-decade long form of the census. This goal cannot be achieved without the sustained program and budget support of the administration and the congress. This support is necessary to ensure that the American Community Survey fulfills its promise to produce accurate annual estimates (including multi-year averages for smaller areas) at the proposed levels of statistical reliability. Thus, over the course of the decade, two primary, measurable indicators of progress towards the ultimate goal will be the reliability and quality of the data being produced by the American Community Survey.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 1.2:  Meet geographic requirements of the 2010 Census by developing systems that employ new technologies, enhancing geographic partnerships, and integrating quality assurance measures into the geographic and Master Address File systems and databases.

The MAF/TIGER Enhancements Program improves the accuracy of the street and map features used for the American Community Survey and the 2010 Census. Having street and map features in Global Positioning System (GPS) alignment allows the Census Bureau to use GPS-enabled mobile computers to help enumerators be more efficient, facilitate the identification of duplicate addresses, and reduce the costs of finding housing units during non-response follow-up. Implementing a GPS-based MAF/TIGER system offers the opportunity to completely revolutionize data collection methodology. Because MAF/TIGER supports all Census Bureau statistical activities, the demographic survey programs and economic censuses also will benefit.

Ultimately, the success of the MAF/TIGER Enhancements Program will be determined through its ability to meet the address and geographic information needs of the American Community Survey and the 2010 Census. This multiyear effort will require sustained program and budget support from the administration and the congress. The primary indicator of progress towards that ultimate goal will be the Census Bureau’s ability to complete the activities described above for all 3,141 counties and for Puerto Rico.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 1.3:  Develop, prototype, test, and integrate new and streamlined methods for the 2010 Census, taking advantage of the American Community Survey, the enhanced MAF/TIGER, and the results of Census 2000.

An improved 2010 Census depends on the success of the American Community Survey and the enhanced MAF/TIGER that, taken together, will reduce risk, improve coverage, and contain costs. The early 2010 planning, developing, prototyping, and testing will use the enhanced MAF/TIGER, lessons learned from Census 2000, and a multiyear series of operational tests, culminating in a dress rehearsal in 2008. Ultimately, the success of the 2010 Census will be measured by it ability to meet legal deadlines, maintain or improve coverage for all population groups and geographic levels, contain costs, and mitigate the risk of operational failure. To do these things successfully, radically new and different procedures must be fully tested under census-like conditions, and refined well in advance of Census Day. This, and the significantly increased use of automation planned for 2010, will require a sustained, multiyear effort of integrated planning, development, testing, revising, and retesting of all the many procedures and information technology needed to complete a successful census. This in turn will require sustained program and budget support from the administration and the congress. The primary indicators of progress towards that ultimate goal will be the Census Bureau’s ability to design, conduct, and evaluate its research and development efforts, and its ability to design, develop, test, and deploy the information technology systems needed to conduct the program in 2010.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 2:  SUPPORT THE ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL FOUNDATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES BY PRODUCING BENCHMARK MEASURES OF THE ECONOMY AND POPULATION FOR THE ADMINISTRATION AND EQUITABLE FUNDING OF FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL PROGRAMS.

The Census Bureau’s benchmark programs are the principal sources of baseline information used to govern the United States. They include the decennial census of population and housing, the quinquennial economic census and the census of governments, and the intercensal demographic estimates program.

Objective 2.1:  Produce accurate, timely, and relevant benchmark measures of the U.S. economy and state and local governments.

The economic census provides the nation with comprehensive, detailed, and authoritative facts about the structure of the U.S. economy. In doing so, the economic census directly supports the Department of Commerce’s mission to promote job creation and improved living standards for all Americans.

The census of governments provides authoritative benchmark data in areas of public finance and employment; local government organization, powers and activities; state, federal, and local fiscal relationships; and property tax administration. It is the only source of comprehensive and uniformly classified data on the economic activities of state and local governments.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 2.2:  Produce accurate, timely, and relevant population estimates for funding allocations and other purposes.

The intercensal demographic estimates program assists elected and appointed officials in allocating about $200 billion each year by providing updated estimates of the United States’ population for the country, states, counties, and functioning governmental units. Since the United States’ population does not stand still between decennial censuses and governments base many of their funding decisions on the size and basic characteristics of the population, effective and efficient government requires these up-to-date estimates.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 2.3:  Produce accurate, timely, and relevant statistics by developing new samples that reflect the current characteristics and geographic location of the population.

Once a decade, following the decennial census, the Census Bureau selects new samples of the population that are the basis for the country’s major surveys. Without this sample redesign effort, the information from these surveys — indicators such as the rate of violent crime and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) — would be less reliable and less representative of the nation. For instance, not redesigning the Consumer Expenditure Survey, which provides major input for the CPI, would likely cause continuing under or over statement of the true change in prices. In addition to serving as the government’s chief gauge of inflation, the CPI is used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security and other federal benefit payments, as well as some private benefit plans. According to the Congressional Budget Office in FY 1999, a 1-percentage point difference in the rate of growth of the CPI directly changes federal spending and revenues by a net total of almost $6 billion per year.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 3:  SUPPORT INNOVATION, PROMOTE DATA USE, MINIMIZE RESPONDENT BURDEN, RESPECT INDIVIDUAL PRIVACY, AND PROTECT THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF RESPONDENTS’ INFORMATION

The successful execution of the Census Bureau’s strategic goal and objectives depends on our capabilities as a global resource for statistical, survey, and technological research; geographic systems; and information services. Crosscutting programs provide essential support for survey and census collection, processing, and dissemination. Our abilities to exploit technology, acquire and use administrative records, anticipate and respond to privacy concerns, and apply the latest systems and statistical and survey methodologies play a critical role in meeting the Census Bureau’s mission to be the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy.

Objective 3.1:  Minimize reporting burden and cost to taxpayers by acquiring and developing high-quality data from sources maintained by other government and commercial entities.

The Census Bureau acquires records collected and maintained by other government or commercial entities, in addition to the data collected directly. The Census Bureau is obligated by law to use existing information, whenever possible, instead of asking for it directly. The use of these administrative records enhances the quality of the Census Bureau’s own data collections and permits the development of timely, rich, and relevant products. Most importantly, the use of administrative records saves taxpayer dollars and minimizes reporting burden. While administrative records are a tremendous resource, the Census Bureau also recognizes the particular responsibilities and sensitivities inherent in their use. The Census Bureau must continue to develop the appropriate infrastructure, policies, and safeguards necessary to ensure that administrative records are used appropriately, securely, and with the utmost respect for the confidentiality of the data and any restrictions established by the agencies supplying them.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 3.2:  Foster trust and cooperation of the public by respecting privacy and protecting the confidentiality of respondents’ information.

The Census Bureau is committed to safeguarding the public’s privacy and maintaining the confidentiality of the data it collects. Because increasingly sophisticated computer searches and data linkages threaten the Census Bureau’s traditional approaches to protecting confidentiality, new approaches have been developed and further research is ongoing. Industry research indicates that privacy and confidentiality continue to blur in the public’s mind.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 3.3:  Meet the geographic requirements of all Census Bureau programs by maintaining geographic tools and associated processing systems.

Provide core geographic systems — the databases, applications software, and processing environment required to produce the basic maps, address lists, address and geographic reference files, and associated processing systems — needed to meet the geographic requirements of all Census Bureau programs. The Census Bureau has developed an automated geographic support system that manages large volumes of geographic and address information from both internal and external sources to establish and maintain a current and complete inventory of streets, roads, and accurate boundaries and other attribute information. Information must be updated on a periodic and regular basis to meet the needs of the economic census, current demographic programs, intercensal demographic estimates program, the American Community Survey, and the planning efforts of the 2010 Census.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 3.4:  Meet program collection, processing, and dissemination requirements by providing a robust and secure information technology environment.

The Census Bureau achieves economies of scale through centralized information technology services. The accuracy, timeliness, and efficiency of all Census Bureau programs are closely linked to the ability to provide stable and dependable information technology support and to continually increase the capacity for innovations in information technology. This objective supports the automated systems and technologies that are critical to all censuses, surveys, and programs.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 3.5:  Improve the timeliness, accuracy, and relevance of our surveys and censuses through new applications of technologies and methodologies and share them globally.

A major challenge is to be responsive to technology needs and methodological improvements in the near term, while also supporting current systems. Research, testing, and prototyping of tools, systems, and new methods to improve data collection, capture, processing, and dissemination across programs support this objective. This is essential for the Census Bureau to meet increasing demands for more complex information in a timely and efficient manner. A vital aspect of this objective is sharing what we learn with other statistical entities throughout the world. By sharing new techniques, we have an opportunity not only to teach, but also to learn from the open exchange of ideas.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 3.6:  Meet the changing needs of our customers by enhancing data products, services, and dissemination.

Information needs are constantly changing as circumstances and laws change and as data users become more knowledgeable about the uses of statistics. The Census Bureau must monitor changing data uses to anticipate what information will be needed and in what formats.

The Census Bureau plays a pioneering role in making information available electronically. As customers’ demands for new means of dissemination grow, we will strive to anticipate and meet their changing needs. Customized portals, bilingual or multilingual sites, and Web training are examples of ways we might better serve our customers through electronic means. Feedback from users and potential users allows us to better understand which alternatives to pursue.

The Census Bureau enjoys a strong reputation for producing accurate information while protecting the confidentiality of the information collected. This reputation supports data collection activities by reassuring respondents not only that their individual information is protected, but that their participation is critical to the production of information that is vital to their community and country.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

STRATEGIC GOAL #2:  PROVIDE CURRENT MEASURES OF THE U.S. POPULATION, ECONOMY, AND GOVERNMENTS.

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 4:  MEET THE NEEDS OF POLICYMAKERS, BUSINESSES, NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS, AND THE PUBLIC FOR CURRENT MEASURES OF THE U.S. POPULATION, ECONOMY, AND GOVERNMENTS.

Informed decisions require reliable, up-to-date information. The Census Bureau’s programs give decision-makers current, timely updates on a wide range of subjects. Examples include income, poverty, crime victimization, health insurance coverage, employment, housing starts, retail and wholesale trade sales, international trade, corporate profits, and manufacturers’ shipments, orders, and inventories.

Objective 4.1:  Produce accurate, timely, and relevant information about the United States - its population, economy, and governments.

The Census Bureau provides statistics that are critical to understanding current conditions in the country. It does so directly by issuing official statistics and indirectly by providing source data to other agencies.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 4.2:  Improve the efficiency of survey processes.

This objective focuses on integrating technological and methodological enhancements to improve survey processes and contain costs.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 4.3:  Ease the reporting burden on respondents.

The success of data collection depends on the cooperation and participation of those who provide the data — individuals, families, businesses, and governments. Minimizing the reporting burden on respondents increases cooperation and holds down costs.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 4.4:  Produce new information using existing data sources by developing cutting-edge techniques and promoting knowledge sharing.

One of the greatest opportunities for improving current statistical measures arises from integrating various sources of information. Such integration will be carried out in a way that maximizes the utility of the data while maintaining confidentiality.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 4.5:  Meet the information needs of other agencies and countries by collecting data for them and providing technical assistance services.

Because of the Census Bureau’s vast experience in designing, collecting, and disseminating current statistics, it is sought out by national and international public and private sector organizations for advice and operational assistance. This reimbursable work supplies vital information for external clients and provides continuity for the technological and field infrastructures essential to the successful conduct every 10 years of the constitutionally required census.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 5:  SUPPORT INNOVATION, PROMOTE DATA USE, MINIMIZE RESPONDENT BURDEN, RESPECT INDIVIDUAL PRIVACY, AND PROTECT THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF RESPONDENTS’ INFORMATION

The successful execution of the Census Bureau’s strategic goal and objectives depends on our capabilities as a global resource for statistical, survey, and technological research; geographic systems; and information services.

Crosscutting programs provide essential support for survey and census collection, processing, and dissemination. Our abilities to exploit technology, acquire and use administrative records, anticipate and respond to privacy concerns, and apply the latest systems and statistical and survey methodologies play a critical role in meeting the Census Bureau’s mission to be the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy.

Objective 5.1:  Minimize reporting burden and cost to taxpayers by acquiring and developing high-quality data from sources maintained by other government and commercial entities.

The Census Bureau acquires records collected and maintained by other government or commercial entities, in addition to the data collected directly. The Census Bureau is obligated by law to use existing information, whenever possible, instead of asking for it directly. The use of these administrative records enhances the quality of the Census Bureau’s own data collections and permits the development of timely, rich, and relevant products. Most importantly, the use of administrative records saves taxpayer dollars and minimizes reporting burden. While administrative records are a tremendous resource, the Census Bureau also recognizes the particular responsibilities and sensitivities inherent in their use. The Census Bureau must continue to develop the appropriate infrastructure, policies, and safeguards necessary to ensure that administrative records are used appropriately, securely, and with the utmost respect for the confidentiality of the data and any restrictions established by the agencies supplying them.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 5.2:  Foster trust and cooperation of the public by respecting privacy and protecting the confidentiality of respondents’ information.

The Census Bureau is committed to safeguarding the public’s privacy and maintaining the confidentiality of the data it collects. Because increasingly sophisticated computer searches and data linkages threaten the Census Bureau’s traditional approaches to protecting confidentiality, new approaches have been developed and further research is ongoing. Industry research indicates that privacy and confidentiality continue to blur in the public’s mind.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 5.3:  Meet the geographic requirements of all Census Bureau programs by maintaining geographic tools and associated processing systems.

Provide core geographic systems — the databases, applications software, and processing environment required to produce the basic maps, address lists, address and geographic reference files, and associated processing systems — needed to meet the geographic requirements of all Census Bureau programs. The Census Bureau has developed an automated geographic support system that manages large volumes of geographic and address information from both internal and external sources to establish and maintain a current and complete inventory of streets, roads, and accurate boundaries and other attribute information. Information must be updated on a periodic and regular basis to meet the needs of the economic census, current demographic programs, intercensal demographic estimates program, the American Community Survey, and the planning efforts of the 2010 Census.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 5.4:  Meet program collection, processing, and dissemination requirements by providing a robust and secure information technology environment.

The Census Bureau achieves economies of scale through centralized information technology services. The accuracy, timeliness, and efficiency of all Census Bureau programs are closely linked to the ability to provide stable and dependable information technology support and to continually increase the capacity for innovations in information technology. This objective supports the automated systems and technologies that are critical to all censuses, surveys, and programs.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 5.5:  Improve the timeliness, accuracy, and relevance of our surveys and censuses through new applications of technologies and methodologies and share them globally.

A major challenge is to be responsive to technology needs and methodological improvements in the near term, while also supporting current systems. Research, testing, and prototyping of tools, systems, and new methods to improve data collection, capture, processing, and dissemination across programs support this objective. This is essential for the Census Bureau to meet increasing demands for more complex information in a timely and efficient manner. A vital aspect of this objective is sharing what we learn with other statistical entities throughout the world. By sharing new techniques, we have an opportunity not only to teach, but also to learn from the open exchange of ideas.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 5.6:  Meet the changing needs of our customers by enhancing data products, services, and dissemination.

Information needs are constantly changing as circumstances and laws change and as data users become more knowledgeable about the uses of statistics. The Census Bureau must monitor changing data uses to anticipate what information will be needed and in what formats.

The Census Bureau plays a pioneering role in making information available electronically. As customers’ demands for new means of dissemination grow, we will strive to anticipate and meet their changing needs. Customized portals, bilingual or multilingual sites, and Web training are examples of ways we might better serve our customers through electronic means. Feedback from users and potential users allows us to better understand which alternatives to pursue.

The Census Bureau enjoys a strong reputation for producing accurate information while protecting the confidentiality of the information collected. This reputation supports data collection activities by reassuring respondents not only that their individual information is protected, but that their participation is critical to the production of information that is vital to their community and country.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

ENABLING GOAL:  MAINTAIN A HIGH QUALITY AND MOTIVATED WORKFORCE AND PROVIDE THE ENVIRONMENT TO SUPPORT THEM.

The President’s Management Agenda initiative on the management of human capital challenges federal agencies to make the federal government more citizen-centered by strengthening front-line services and providing an efficient organization. The Census Bureau will use strategic workforce planning and flexible tools to recruit, retain, and reward employees and continue to develop a high-performing workforce. We are developing strategies to retain and share the knowledge of our employees. And we are examining our core competencies to assess whether to build internal capacity or contract for services. Supporting a highly skilled workforce also means ensuring that they have the tools needed to do their jobs well — including a safe and productive workplace, accurate and timely financial and management information, and secure and continuous computer and other systems.

Objective 1.1:  Promote a culture of achievement by investing in human capital.

Approximately 45 percent of the Census Bureau’s current permanent employees will be eligible for regular or early retirement by 2010. The Census Bureau must actively plan for succession in order to prevent anticipated shortages due to our aging workforce.

Proper planning will be necessary to ensure that the skill mix of the federal workforce will enable the Census Bureau to meet its mission. As the nation becomes more diverse, the Census Bureau’s staff must reflect the increasing diversity of the American population if it is to do its job effectively.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 1.2:  Promote communication and collaboration within the Census Bureau.

Efficient and effective communication and collaboration are critical to the success of the Census Bureau’s programs and to enabling employees to do their best work. Good communication can save money by preventing duplication of effort or expenditures. Strong collaboration across teams can spur creativity and foster new ideas.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 1.3:  Improve management performance.

Without accurate and timely management information, it is not possible to accomplish the President’s Management Agenda to secure the best performance and highest measure of accountability for the American people.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Objective 1.4:  Provide a safe and productive workplace for employees that supports secure and continuous operations.

The events of September 11, 2001, made it necessary to revisit the Census Bureau’s disaster recovery and continuity of operations efforts. Doing so called for the development of a more robust plan — a plan that will ensure fulfillment of the critical elements of the Census Bureau’s mission in the event of a physical or biological attack. The plan also supports ongoing information technology security programs.

Strategies and means

Measuring performance

Appendix 1

Program Evaluations

The Census Bureau is committed to the application of best practices through program evaluations. Evaluations are used to help the Census Bureau achieve its strategic goals via a formal, integrated, and corporate-focused approach. Using a multidisciplinary, multidivisional model, it is possible to comprehensively address census and survey program needs. Evaluation results inform the decision-making processes for data collection, data processing, data analysis, communication, information dissemination, and customer service operations, and provide a management tool for assessing and managing census and survey progress and performance. Some examples of program evaluations include:

OIG and GAO

Both the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) perform a number of audits on Census Bureau programs each year.

PART

The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Program Assessment and Rating Tool (PART) evaluations also provide a thorough review of individual programs. Seven Census Bureau programs have been evaluated using the PART. All of these programs received high ratings, with scores in the top third of federal programs. Three Census Bureau programs have earned an "effective" rating, the highest possible for a PART.

Other External Sources

Other external sources such as the National Academy of Sciences, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., and other federal agencies who use our data provide independent evaluations. Additionally, seven advisory committees review programs and advise the Census Bureau through public meetings at least once a year.

Economic Statistics

Evaluation of programs by the economic statistics staff has led to better measures of capital expenditures by U.S. companies, improved the Census Bureau’s ability to capture data on e-commerce activities, clarified what information companies can provide on their pollution abatement activities, and periodically documented, as required by OMB, the statistical rigor of the methodologies used to produce the principal economic indicators.

Demographic Statistics

The Census Bureau regularly generates quality profiles and management reports for both reimbursable and Census Bureau-sponsored demographic surveys. These profiles and reports provide statistical measures of reliability and note compliance with or accomplishment of project tasks.

Decennial Census Program

The extensive Census 2000 testing, experimentation, and evaluation program assisted the Census Bureau in evaluating Census 2000 and in exploring new survey procedures in a census environment. It built the foundation for making early and informed decisions about the role and scope of the 2010 Census. The 2010 Census program has been the subject of numerous and extensive audits conducted by the Department’s OIG and by the GAO.

Since 1996, the methods used in the American Community Survey (ACS) have been tested, evaluated, and improved. Prior to full implementation, the Census Bureau conducted a series of evaluations on the feasibility of full implementation of the ACS, the quality of ACS products, the comparability of ACS and census data, and the impact of the use of voluntary methods on ACS costs and quality. In addition to internal evaluations, the Census Bureau has contracted with external demographers to evaluate ACS data and has worked closely with OIG and GAO staff on issues related to the ACS.

For its geographic programs, the Census Bureau implemented, for the first time in Census 2000, a Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program in which tribal and local governments reviewed and corrected the census address list and maps. Since Census 2000, the Planning, Research, and Evaluation Division (PRED), the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Commerce, OIG, OMB, and the Anteon Corporation have conducted evaluations of and surveys about the LUCA program. These evaluations resulted in recommendations aimed at improving the LUCA program, and are being implemented and will be demonstrated in the 2010 Census dress rehearsal.

Appendix 2

Cross-Cutting Programs

The Census Bureau is involved in numerous cross-cutting programs and activities. Federal agencies use our data to allocate about $200 billion in federal funds every year. The program data are used throughout the federal government for policy decisions. Specifically:

Reimbursable Work

Work performed under reimbursable agreements with other federal agencies (including the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, and Justice; the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Federal Reserve Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality) comprise a large part of our activities. For example, data from the Consumer Expenditures Survey are an important element of the Consumer Price Index, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates and publishes. The Current Population Survey gathers data that BLS uses to calculate employment and unemployment statistics. Other major subject areas include health care, education, and criminal justice.

Intra-Department of Commerce

The Census Bureau works closely with other statistical agencies, in particular the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The BEA is a primary customer for the Census Bureau’s economic and demographic data. For example, BEA uses data from the more than 100 annual, quarterly, and monthly economic surveys to develop the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Census Bureau and BEA cooperatively examine and assess joint and individual statistical problems.

The Census Bureau is working with the International Trade Administration (ITA) to produce customized statistics on exported services. The ITA will fund the production of these statistics.

The Census Bureau also works with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on issues related to global position systems (GPS) and geodetic control.

The Census Bureau also received information from BEA, ITA, NOAA, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for many uses including compiling the Statistical Abstract of the United States, and the County and City Data Book.

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) requires the use of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data for grant applications that previously used census long form data.

Other Government Agencies

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is an important partner in the production of high-quality information that describes labor force status and other key measures of the economy. For example, the Census Bureau provides BLS with monthly unemployment data.

The Census Bureau relies on the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration as data sources for sample frame development.

The Census Bureau works with EDA, the Department of Labor’s Economic and Training Administration (ETA), the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) and state and local governments in creating useful analytical tools to assist communities in preparing for, and recovering from numerous types of economic dislocations such as Base Realignment and Closure, plant closings, and disasters.

Interagency Council on Statistical Policy. Under the auspices of the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau is a major participant in this council, which works to improve the collaborative activities of federal statistical agencies. Activities of the council have led to standardized data and concepts, technology transfers, methodology exchange, collaborative research, process improvement, better customer service, reduced respondent burden, and infrastructure sharing.

State and local governments. The Census Bureau works closely with state and local governments to make data available to the public through a variety of channels. State governments help produce sub-national population estimates through the Federal-State Cooperative for Population Estimates. States also provide updates to the Boundary and Annexation Survey, test data products, and disseminate data and program information through the State Data Center program.

Tribal governments. Through the Tribal Governments program, the Census 2000 Tribal Liaison program, and other operations such as the Boundary and Annexation Survey, the Census Bureau works closely with American Indians and Alaska Natives. Tribal governments assist with boundary identification, count review, outreach and promotion, and data dissemination.

Private Sector

The Census Bureau consults extensively with businesses and business associations in the development of economic surveys. Census Information Centers (CIC) were established as a cooperative program with national, regional, and local nonprofit organizations that represent the interests of underserved communities. CICs make data available for program planning, needs assessment, defining service areas, public policy development, developing new business enterprises, and conducting race/ethnic-related research.

International Sector

The International Programs Center (IPC) conducts demographic and socioeconomic studies and strengthens statistical development around the world through technical assistance, training, and software products. Its work is commissioned and funded by federal agencies, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, private businesses, and other governments. For more than 50 years, the IPC has assisted other governments throughout the world in the collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and use of statistics.

Appendix 3

Management Challenges

Consistent with the Management Challenges identified in the Department of Commerce’s Strategic Plan, the Census Bureau faces a number of key challenges. The Census Bureau views the following as among the most significant, for their importance to achieving our mission or to the nation’s well-being; for their complexity; for their cost; or for the urgency of the need for management improvements.

The President’s Management Agenda

The President’s Management Agenda tracks efforts to address key challenges in federal government. The President’s vision of a government that is citizen-centered and results-oriented, and that promotes innovation through competition, fits well with the Census Bureau’s history and goals. The President’s Management Agenda specifies five government-wide initiatives. These initiatives cover strategic management of human capital, competitive sourcing, improved financial performance, expanded electronic government, and budget and performance integration.

Our strong commitment to accomplishing these tasks is reflected in this Strategic Plan. For example, to expand e-government opportunities for both data collection and dissemination, we have made it possible for individuals, businesses, and local governments to respond through the Internet, and for data users to get the information they need through American FactFinder, an electronic data dissemination tool.

Data Stewardship

Data stewardship is a key focus of the Census Bureau’s management. Data stewardship involves establishing policies that preserve privacy and protect confidentiality, reduce reporting burden, and maximize data use. As technology provides us with greater abilities to collect, process, and disseminate data, it also presents greater challenges to protect data from improper access and use. Data from other sources, publicly available through the Internet, and record linkage technologies threaten past data protection safeguards. New techniques have been developed and further research is underway.

The Census Bureau’s growing dependence on administrative records in its surveys, censuses, and modeling activities will be tested by relationship changes with administrative agencies. Increasingly, government agencies will be pressured to improve, streamline, and revamp program activities in response to legislation, budget cutting activities, audits, and/or privacy concerns. Despite working closely with providing agencies, the Census Bureau could face the prospect of redesigning affected programs with very little lead-time and limited research if those agencies modified their policies. The Census Bureau’s ability to respond successfully to any such changes will be critical to its continued access to administrative records.

Workforce Management

About 45 percent of the Census Bureau’s employees will be eligible for early or regular retirement by 2010. With so many becoming eligible for retirement in the near future, the Census Bureau must recruit, develop, and retain the next generation of employees. This will require planning to ensure that specialized technical, managerial, and subject-matter knowledge, as well as the Census Bureau’s corporate culture, values, and institutional knowledge, are transferred.

Recruiting and retaining the best employees is always difficult and could be more so in the future. The government is seen as offering less interesting, less challenging work; lower pay; fewer rewards for outstanding performance; and fewer opportunities for initiative and independent work than the private sector. The Census Bureau will need to have strong incentives to recruit and retain staff; effective training opportunities to keep employees up-to-date; and meaningful career development programs. Incentives such as recruiting bonuses; funds and assistance for relocation; transportation subsidies; repayment of student loans; and childcare and assistance with household responsibilities are some of the enticements being considered.

Additionally, the Census Bureau needs to view workforce development from a new, broader perspective. Increasingly, employees expect to be able to branch out into new areas and have work assignments that are expansive and challenging both in their content and location. In order to retain talented employees, the Census Bureau must invest to broaden their professional experiences and increase their skills to advanced levels.

Finally, a diverse workforce, representative of the public that it measures, will enable the Census Bureau to do a better job, to be sensitive when collecting information from all segments of the population, and to create products that more fully meet the needs of all customers. The Census Bureau must strive not only to maintain a workforce with the appropriate skills, but also one that reflects the diversity of the nation. Awareness of all these trends is critical to developing the depth and flexibility that will be required of the Census Bureau workforce of the future.

Workplace Conditions

Telecommuting has become a more common practice — both from home and from remote offices. The Census Bureau is working to address a full range of electronic communications to take advantage of telecommuting. Electronic communications need to permit the sharing of non-confidential information and the capacity to transfer work projects back and forth. High costs complicate this task.

Additionally, in FY 2006, Census Bureau headquarters employees began moving into a new building. It has replaced the existing headquarters facilities that the Census Bureau had occupied since 1942, which are now worn out and inadequate.

Appendix 4

External Factors

The United States has a growing need for extensive, timely, and accurate information to manage the increasing complexities of its population and its economy. The Census Bureau’s ability to supply the necessary information depends on a number of factors, both within the government and in the society as a whole.

Governmental Influences

The Census Bureau continues to be influenced by themes, policies, and circumstances that affect the entire federal government, as well as considerations unique to the Department of Commerce.

The Economy and the Federal Budget

The economy and policies to address economic issues are likely to challenge the ability to initiate new programs and even to conduct current activities. It may be increasingly difficult to justify needed spending. The Census Bureau also may find itself facing unfunded mandates to satisfy the information needs of legislative and executive customers. Further, the cyclical nature of the work the Census Bureau makes it difficult to obtain consistent Congressional support for ongoing programs as well as for new initiatives.

Demands on the federal budget during the next few years will be substantial and Members of Congress will have to make difficult choices. Our challenge will be to demonstrate the critical importance of accurate information to achieve high quality performance by the government and the economy.

Other Government Agencies

The relationships of the Census Bureau with other government agencies also may present challenges. Agencies that sponsor data collection or other activities may need to accommodate declining resources. Agencies with which the Census Bureau cooperates may need to change policies or priorities. It may be difficult to anticipate such secondary effects in time to deal with them effectively.

Customer Influences

Meeting the needs of our customers is at the heart of our vision to be the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. Over our first 100 years, the Census Bureau has focused on collecting and producing the most accurate information possible. More recently, the Census Bureau has improved access by making information available through the Internet and through data dissemination networks, such as the State Data Centers, Census Information Centers, and Research Data Centers. These efforts require sustaining resources, but may be threatened in lean times.

The Census Bureau has a varied and diverse customer base that ranges from the most sophisticated analyst to the inexperienced one-time user. Recent technological advances allow the Census Bureau to make more information available more quickly to more users. In many respects, the Census Bureau sets the pace in providing data electronically. However, challenges are associated with creating data dissemination tools that meet everyone’s needs. A system that frustrates some customers will be seen as a failure, even if it effectively serves the needs of most.

With technological advances, the tension between providing access to information and protecting confidentiality is growing. The Census Bureau must continue to explore options that achieve both. For example, the Research Data Centers may become more important as a way to facilitate access without compromising confidentiality. The use of modeled data may become more common.

Serving customers well requires that the Census Bureau accurately anticipate and plan for future requirements. The Census Bureau is always learning and must ensure that it continues to gather information on how best to serve customers’ needs. The Census Bureau must consider new approaches to save customers time and money, improve customer relations, and meet their needs.

Societal Influences

Privacy

Privacy is a complex issue that involves more than confidentiality. In the Internet era, the public has grown wary of private sector use (and misuse) of personal information collected for one reason and used for a different reason without their knowledge or consent. Identity theft using social security numbers has made many wary about providing personal information and has led to proposed legislation to restrict the use of social security numbers and to routinely change each number. Concerns over the intrusiveness of the census long form in 2000 threatened the success of the census because initially a few high-ranking officials expressed support for those who did not wish to respond to questions they considered sensitive.

To address privacy issues, the Census Bureau is working with external groups to understand their concerns and possible options. To minimize burden and intrusiveness, the Census Bureau is working to make even greater use of administrative records. But doing so might result in different, but also negative perceptions about the Census Bureau. Any such effects could be mitigated by conducting privacy impact assessments, by establishing a visible and active privacy function to educate the public on how the information is used and how their privacy is protected, and by implementing other effective means of communication.

Cultural Diversity

Racial and ethnic minorities are becoming a proportionately larger component of the population. In 2000, slightly more than 1 of 10 people in the United States was foreign born. This growing cultural diversity will continue to bring new challenges to how the Census Bureau conducts its work. It will affect the methods the Census Bureau uses to collect information, the questions asked, and the presentation of the information. Traditional surveys may require more materials in languages other than English and different approaches to reaching out to different communities. The Census Bureau now, following an OMB statistical standard, asks respondents to report one or more races. This issue will continue to evolve over the next several years. Other aspects of diversity, such as the aging of the population and the workforce and different approaches to work of the younger generations, need to be addressed.

Technological Influences

It will be increasingly difficult for the Census Bureau’s core businesses, censuses and surveys, to stay in front of the demand from policymakers for timely information on emerging economic and societal trends without the use of state-of-the-art technology. Likewise, Census Bureau management requires effective and efficient information management tools.

The rapidly changing information technology environment, including changes in hardware, software, applications, Internet use, and uses within the user community, influences how the Census Bureau collects, processes, and disseminates data and information. The Census Bureau depends on congressional funding for initiatives to support technology innovations. While the Congress controls funding, they also impose mandates, such as accessibility requirements, that add to the cost of implementing new technology. The Census Bureau also needs to obtain/retain qualified staff and continue to train them to remain competitive within this environment.

Expanding technological capabilities will drive increased customer/user expectations for ease of access, quick turnaround times, simple interface mechanisms, and comparability between different sources of data. Customers also want enhanced quality of products and services, including more functionality in data collection instruments as the Census Bureau migrates to electronic reporting and computer-assisted technologies. As the use of electronic reporting expands, the need for businesses, individuals and customers to be confident in the reliability, security, and integrity of electronic collection and transactions will increase.

In the long term, the Census Bureau will be able to do much of its data collection through automated means. It is already heading in that direction. However, the Census Bureau needs to ensure it applies technology effectively. Usability tests, along with behavioral and cognitive studies, will be needed to help the Census Bureau improve and maintain response rates. As technology is applied, the Census Bureau needs to take full advantage of the improved processes and adjust for these changes rather than adding layers and redundancies to an existing environment. The President’s Management Agenda directs agencies to expand the use of the Internet. For data collection and dissemination, the Census Bureau must carefully examine its processes to serve the public through increased use of the Internet. As always, the Census Bureau must consider and mitigate the possibility of criminal or malicious access to its networks and data.