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Informal cooperation between the Federal Government and the states in the area of local population estimates existed as early as 1953. In 1966, the National Governor’s Conference, in cooperation with the Council of State Governments, initiated and sponsored the ‘First National Conference on Comparative Statistics,’ held in Washington, D.C. This conference gave national recognition to the increasing demand for subnational population estimates. Between 1967 and 1973, a group of Census Bureau and state employees charged with developing annual subnational population estimates, formalized the Federal-State Cooperative Program for Local Population Estimates. During this period, the FSCPE members identified several objectives that were later codified in the FSCPE BY-LAWS:
State FSCPE agencies, designated by their respective governors, work in cooperation with the Census Bureau's Program Branches to produce population estimates.
The Census Bureau begins the process of preparing population estimates by updating population information from the most recent census with information found in the annual administrative records of Federal and state agencies. The Federal agencies provide tax records, Medicare records and some vital statistics information. The FSCPE agencies supply vital statistics, and information about group quarters like college dorms or prisons. The Census Bureau and FSCPE members combine census and administrative records information to produce current population estimates consistent with the last decennial census counts. The Census estimates are sent to the FSCPE agencies for review and comment.
In addition, some FSCPE agencies also produce their own population estimates and projections.
Population estimates are used to distribute over 400 billion Federal dollars and to determine eligibility for many social programs which are based on population.