U.S. Department of Commerce

Information Quality

Skip top of page navigation
Census.gov Information Quality Main Census Bureau Information Quality Guidelines › Utility

Utility

The Census Bureau shall ensure that information disseminated to the public shall be useful to its intended users. The requirements of utility are ongoing for a Federal statistical agency like the Census Bureau, which must be engaged in the continual development of more useful data.


In establishing its priorities for statistical programs for the purpose of providing objective information that is relevant to policy and program needs, the Census Bureau works closely with the users of information in the executive branch, the Congress, interested nongovernmental people and groups, advisory committees, and the sponsors of its reimbursable surveys, as well as conducting ongoing surveys of data users and product reviews. The demographic and economic data and information the Census Bureau produces are critical to understanding the health and well-being of the population, business and industry. Our goals and programs reflect a commitment to respond to the Nation's growing need for extensive, timely, and accurate data to understand the increasing complexities of its population and its economy.


The data content requirements of some of our key programs, such as the decennial census, are reviewed by OMB and by the Congress. The Constitution of the United States mandates the taking of the census every ten years, and the decennial census is the foundation on which our democratic system of government is built. Title 13 of the United States Code includes provisions about how the decennial census shall be taken, and also grants authority for the economic censuses, which seek to measure virtually all economic activity in the U.S.


The Census Bureau maintains ongoing contact with a broad spectrum of users to ensure that its information continues to remain relevant. Information collected by the Census Bureau is designed to provide measures that are relevant. These measures are released to the public as official statistics. Relevance is the degree to which information products provide useful information for both current needs and anticipated future needs.


The Census Bureau disseminates statistical information products to the public in a timely manner. Timeliness encompasses frequency of data dissemination, as well as the closeness of the release to the data's reference period. Efforts are made to collect and publish data in a time interval that allows high quality data to be disseminated to the public and also ensures that the information is usable.


The Census Bureau disseminates statistical information products to the public in a manner that allows them to be accessible to a broad range of data users with different requirements for data availability and understandability. Accessibility is the ease of access or effort needed for customers to acquire statistical data, products, or services. The Census Bureau conducts usability tests to ensure that its statistical products are accessible and understandable to its data users.


The Census Bureau strives for ongoing improvements to meet our customers' expectations for ease of access, quick turnaround times, simple interface mechanisms, and comparability among different data sources. We also continually enhance the quality of our products and services through greater functionality in data collection instruments as we migrate to e-commerce and computer-assisted technologies.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Methodology and Standards Council |  Last Revised: July 08, 2010