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2010 Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) Contract
The 2000 Census vs. the 2010 Census

2010 DRIS home || Library

Major Differences Between 2000 Census and 2010 Census Data Capture

The Government expects a number of innovations in the system design and development effort for the 2010 Census data capture system, which will include integration of three major technologies: paper, Internet and telephone. Although the 2000 Census successfully used these technologies in varying degrees, there is a magnitude of difference between their uses then and plans for the 2010 Census. As one example, in Census 2000, the Census Bureau developed the systems to normalize response data from the three separate data capture efforts, and each process had different quality assurance standards. For the 2010 Census, the contractor will capture respondent data using three self-response modes, and apply the same QA to normalize the data before sending output files to the Census Bureau.

If one were to examine just one component of the planned DRIS solution, the differences between the Census 2000 solution and the expected 2010 solution would be magnified. For example, the 2000 paper solution was based on black and white imaging. For 2010, the Government's research indicates we may need color-imaging technologies to improve form designs for the 2010 Census. This change alone would hopefully reduce respondent confusion and improve response rates--a key concern at the Census Bureau. Thus the system we used for Census 2000, while successful at the time, would not process the 2010 Census forms as they are currently proposed.

Exhibit 1 is a summary of the major differences between the two censuses. Note that some of the listed attributes of the 2010 Census could change over the next several years as the Census Bureau progresses with its planning; however, this list represents the current state of the Government's plans.

2000 Census Attribute 2010 Census Attribute Notes
Short forms and long forms used Short forms only 1
Very limited Internet response Full Internet response and assistance mode 2
No Integrated Voice Response (IVR) data capture Full IVR response and assistance mode 3
Non-response follow-up conducted using paper forms Non-response follow-up conducted using Hand Held Devices 4
No replacement mailing Possible replacement mailing 5
Data from various sources integrated by the Census Bureau Data from various modes integrated by the DRIS contractor 6
Data archiving requirements and functions changed after most Census operations were completed Data archiving requirements and functions included in original system design 7
Security requirements consistent with late 1990's federal standards Security requirements consistent with late 2000's federal standards 8

Exhibit 1. Major Differences Between 2000 Census and 2010 Census Data Capture

The information in the above exhibit is further explained in the notes that follow:

  1. In 2000, short forms were used for approximately 83% of the households in the nation, and long forms (also called sample forms) were used for the remaining 17%. Because of the size of the long forms, however, they represented roughly half of the page scanning, OMR, OCR, and keying workloads. So the paper data capture workload in 2010 will be different. Just as significant, however, is the expected increase in complexity. The 2010 paper data capture system may require color imaging technology using digital dropout techniques. While the 2000 system created a bi-tonal scanned image, we expect the 2010 system to create images with colors and grayscale. The paper system may also have to allow for more variation in the printed forms than what was accepted in Census 2000; the system would then need to expand input tolerances to support the possibility of a replacement mailing. This is a key objective, as the Census Bureau estimates it could save one billion dollars in enumeration costs. (See Note No.5.)
  2. The Census Bureau implemented a minor, unpublicized Internet response mode for the 2000 Census, primarily as a feasibility test. There were relatively few respondents who used this mode. For 2010, we expect to implement a full, national, well-publicized option to respond to the Census via the Internet. The Census Bureau is currently estimating that roughly 25% of respondents will use this response mode, reducing the expected amount of paper data capture.
  3. The Census Bureau is planning for a new capability to allow for responses via the telephone. This self-response mode will be well publicized and fully supported. Most telephone respondents will enter their data through an interactive voice response (IVR) interview, with live telephone operators available to handle unusual cases or questions. Again, roughly 25% of respondents are expected to use this mode, which would potentially further reduce the amount of paper forms to be processed.
  4. In 2000 and all previous censuses, field enumerators have conducted non-response follow-up (NRFU) using paper. The NRFU forms represented a significant portion of the paper data capture workloads in 2000. Not only were millions of such forms processed, but the forms were different from the self-response forms, and thus the system had to be designed to handle these uniquespecific additional forms and specific data fields. For 2010, the Census Bureau is currently planning to equip field enumerators with Hand Held Devices (HHDs). Although the Census Bureau is continuing to study the benefits and costs of using HHDs instead of paper forms for the NRFU operations, if the HHDs are used, this would significantly simplify the paper data capture operations.
  5. Another issue being studied by the Census Bureau is a replacement mailing. If a replacement mailing is implemented, it could have major impacts on the data capture system. It is possible that replacement forms could differ from the original form and have greater variability in print methods. Also, a replacement mailing would unavoidably result in some households returning both the original and the replacement form, both of which would have to be processed by the DRIS contractor.
  6. Integration of data from various data capture modes (such as paper and Internet responses) was the responsibility of the Census Bureau in 2000. For 2010, the DRIS contractor will design and implement the various data capture modes (except for the HHD mode), and will integrate the data from all modes (including HHDs) into a full, comprehensive system covering all data gathered for the 2010 Census. Integrating all the captured data will allow the DRIS contractor to deliver all data to the Census Bureau in a consistent manner, and will also enable the contractor to produce more meaningful management information reports and statistics. Finally, with this approach the contractor will be able to produce ancillary products, such as files or tables of all non-respondents.
  7. The data archiving requirements for Census 2000 changed well after the design and implementation of the data capture system. For 2010, the Census Bureau hopes to create processing efficiencies by designing the archiving capabilities into the basic system.
  8. The 2000 data capture system included all security controls considered appropriate at that time; however, the federal government's security guidelines for systems of this importance and magnitude have evolved significantly over the intervening decade. For example, if the 2010 Census security requirements mandate isolating mail and paper handling processes from the remaining IT infrastructure, then post-scanning operations that require going back to the paper form will be precluded in 2010. Yet, in Census 2000 such operations were required parts of the workflow. Similarly, in 2010 there would be no paper backup; the image would have to stand on its own through the workflow. The newer response modes, Internet and telephone, will also greatly affect security requirements. The Census Bureau expects that security considerations will play a much bigger role in the overall system requirements, design, implementation, and testing for 2010.

In summary, for the 2010 Census the data capture solution will no longer be just a paper capture system. It will include major new response modes as well as increased emphasis on overall system integration, data integration, system flexibility, QA/QC, security, data archiving, and management information.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Acquisition Division

Created: 4/2/2004
Last Revised: March 17, 2010