[Federal Register: February 8, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 27)]
[Page 7521-7525]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Bureau of the Census

[Docket Number 070111009-7786-02]

Census County Division and Equivalent Entities Program for the 
2010 Census-Final Criteria

AGENCY: Bureau of the Census, Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of final criteria and program implementation.


SUMMARY: This Notice announces the Bureau of the Census' (Census 
Bureau's) final criteria for defining census county divisions (CCDs) 
and equivalent entities for the 2010 Census. Based on responses to the 
request for comments on proposed criteria published in the Federal 
Register of April 6, 2007 (72 FR 17324), the Census Bureau will retain 
CCDs as a statistical geographic entity for use in tabulating and 
presenting data from the decennial census, the American Community 
Survey (ACS), and, as appropriate, other censuses and surveys.
    CCDs and equivalent entities are statistical geographic entities 
established cooperatively by the Census Bureau and officials of state 
and local governments in 22 states \1\ where minor civil divisions 
(MCDs) either do not exist or have been unsatisfactory for reporting 
census data. The primary goal of the CCD program has been to establish 
and maintain a set of

[[Page 7522]]

subcounty \2\ units that have stable boundaries and recognizable names.

    \1\ In Alaska, census subareas are equivalents of CCDs. For 
purposes of this notice, the term ``CCD'' will also refer to census 
subareas in Alaska.
    \2\ For Census Bureau purposes, the term ``county'' includes 
parishes in Louisiana; boroughs, city and boroughs, municipalities, 
and census areas in Alaska; independent cities in Maryland, 
Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia; districts and islands in American 
Samoa, and districts in the U.S. Virgin Islands; municipalities in 
the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; municipios in 
Puerto Rico; and the areas constituting the District of Columbia and 
Guam. This notice will refer to all of these entities collectively 
as ``counties.''

    In addition to providing final criteria for CCDs, this notice also 
contains a summary of comments received in response to proposed 
criteria published in the April 6, 2007, Federal Register (72 FR 
17324), as well as both the Census Bureau's response to those comments 
and a description of the changes made to the criteria.

DATES: This notice's final criteria will be effective on February 8, 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Geographic Standards and Criteria 
Branch, Geography Division, U.S. Census Bureau, via e-mail at 
geo.psap.list@census.gov or telephone at (301) 763-3056.


I. History

    When CCDs were introduced prior to the 1950 Census, few 
alternatives were available for the provision of statistical data 
related to relatively stable, subcounty geographic units. Census tracts 
were defined in only a subset of metropolitan area counties. MCDs 
existed in all counties, but in some states, MCD boundaries changed 
frequently enough that they were not useful for comparing statistical 
data from one decade to another.
    For much of the period from the 1950 Census through the 1980 
Census, county subdivisions (MCDs and CCDs) provided the only subcounty 
unit of geography at which data users could obtain statistical data for 
complete coverage of counties nationwide. The introduction of block 
numbering areas (BNAs) in counties without census tracts for the 1990 
Census offered an alternate subcounty entity for which data could be 
tabulated. For Census 2000, the Census Bureau introduced census tracts 
nationwide (in many counties, BNAs were simply relabeled as ``census 
tracts'') and the greater dissemination of, and ability to analyze, 
data at the census tract level made CCDs less necessary as statistical 
reporting units.

II. Summary of Comments Received in Response to the Proposed Criteria

    The April 6, 2007, Federal Register (72 FR 17324) notice requested 
comment on proposed criteria for CCDs. In addition, the Census Bureau 
sought comment regarding the continued identification and use of CCDs 
as statistical geographic areas for the tabulation, presentation, and 
analysis of statistical data. In raising the question of continued 
identification of CCDs, the Census Bureau sought to ascertain the 
extent to which data users still found CCDs to be useful geographic 
areas given that census tracts are defined nationwide, and that census 
tract-level statistical data are widely available and more easily 
manipulated using prevailing spreadsheet, database, and geographic 
information system software. The Census Bureau noted that it would 
consider eliminating CCDs as a census geographic area if commenters no 
longer found them to be useful for data presentation and analysis. If 
comments indicated continued relevance, the Census Bureau would retain 
    The Census Bureau received 172 comments in response to the proposed 
criteria, all specifically in response to the issue of whether to 
retain or eliminate CCDs. Commenters represented a broad range of data 
users, including individual data users; local, state, and federal 
government agencies; nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations; and 
private sector organizations and companies.
    The Census Bureau received 164 comments in favor of retaining CCDs, 
noting their continued relevance as geographic areas for data 
presentation and analysis. Of these, 154 comments related specifically 
to retaining the San Fernando Valley CCD in Los Angeles County, 
California. Of the other comments in favor of retaining CCDs, six were 
received from state departments of health, noting that data for CCDs 
are used for analysis and program implementation, particularly in less 
populated counties in which CCDs subdivide census tracts and, 
therefore, provide data for smaller geographic areas and populations.
    Of the remaining eight comments, four were in response to a survey 
conducted in the San Fernando Valley, with three in favor of 
eliminating CCDs and one undecided. Two commenters (a national trade 
association and a nongovernmental policy research organization) favored 
elimination of CCDs, stating that as a result of nationwide 
availability of data for census tracts, they no longer analyzed data by 
    The Tennessee Office of Information Resources requested replacement 
of CCDs in Tennessee with county commissioner districts, commenting 
that the latter were more relevant to the ongoing planning and policy 
analysis needs of local and state government agencies. County 
commissioner districts in Tennessee are legal entities defined for the 
purpose of electing county commissioners, and are a type of legal, 
administrative MCD. They are redefined after each decennial census, and 
their boundaries generally remain stable and unchanged through the 
decade. When considering this request, the Census Bureau sought 
additional comment from data users in Tennessee, working through the 
Tennessee State Data Center (SDC) and its network of affiliates. 
Responses to the Tennessee SDC's request for comment generally favored 
adoption of county commissioner districts as the county subdivision 
type for use in tabulating and presenting Census Bureau data, and 
concurred with the Office of Information Resources request to replace 
CCDs with county commissioner districts.
    In accepting Tennessee's request to switch from CCDs to county 
commissioner districts (a type of MCD), the Census Bureau also offers 
other CCD states the opportunity to replace CCDs with MCDs, provided 
the following conditions are met:
    1. There is demonstrated support from a wide range of data users 
within the state for the switch from current CCDs to a legally existing 
county subdivision;
    2. The type of MCD selected for adoption exists in all counties 
throughout the state and is well known or easily identifiable by data 
users; and
    3. The type of MCD selected has relatively stable boundaries, with 
changes generally limited to updates or redistricting once following 
each census, but stable through the remainder of the decade.
    The Census Bureau will consider requests from the other 21 CCD 
states to replace CCDs with a type of MCD, based on the conditions 
stated above. If the MCDs are to be used for the tabulation of data 
from the 2010 Census, requests must be received in writing by April 15, 
2008, to provide the Census Bureau sufficient time to consult with data 
users in the state through the State Data Center and its network of 
affiliates, prepare geographic update materials, and process boundary 

Changes to the Criteria From the Proposed Rule

    The changes made to the final criteria (from the proposed criteria) 
in ``Section III, General principles and criteria for CCDs for the 2010 
Census'' are as follows:
    1. Paragraph 1 in this section appeared in Section C, ``CCD 
Criteria for the 2010 Census,'' in the previous

[[Page 7523]]

Federal Register notice (April 6, 2007; 72 FR 17324). We have moved it 
to the beginning of Section III in the final criteria because the 
wording applies to both the general principles and delineation 
criteria. We removed the reference to American Indian reservations and 
off-reservation trust lands because these areas are, by definition, 
within the United States.
    2. Section A, ``General principles,'' paragraph 3, reworded several 
sentences to provide greater clarity regarding the relationship between 
CCDs and census tracts.
    3. Section A, ``General principles,'' paragraph 4, added three 
sentences to clarify North Dakota's and Tennessee's requests to use 
MCDs rather than CCDs for tabulating data. We made this change to note 
Tennessee's recent request in response to the April 6, 2007, Federal 
Register (72 FR 17234). The reference to North Dakota's request for the 
1970 Census was added to provide an example of a state that had shifted 
from CCDs to MCDs.
    4. Section B, ``CCD Criteria for the 2010 Census,'' added the first 
paragraph, summarizing the criteria that follow in more detail.
    5. Section B, ``CCD Criteria for the 2010 Census,'' criteria 
relating to community orientation, added the words ``together form a 
cohesive community area'' to provide greater clarity.
    6. Section B, ``CCD Criteria for the 2010 Census,'' criteria 
relating to visible and/or stable boundaries, changed wording in the 
last sentence from ``permits'' to ``requires'' that CCDs follow state, 
county, and census tract boundaries. This change in wording is 
consistent with wording elsewhere in the criteria, with the stated 
intent of the CCD program, and with past practice. Additional wording 
changes were made to improve clarity.
    7. Section B, ``CCD Criteria for the 2010 Census,'' criteria 
relating to census tract boundaries, removed the reference to the 
Puerto Rico Community Survey because CCDs are not defined in Puerto 
Rico. We also deleted the requirement that new CCDs must have a minimum 
population of 1,200 (the minimum threshold for a census tract) because 
population thresholds and requirements are not consistent with the 
general concept of a CCD.
    8. Section B, ``CCD Criteria for the 2010 Census,'' criteria 
relating to name identification, we added a requirement that the name 
of an existing CCD may not be changed unless a compelling reason is 
provided. This addition is intended to promote consistency and 
continuity from one census to another and avoid needless changes that 
may result in confusion among data users.

III. General Principles and Criteria for CCDs for the 2010 Census

    The criteria outlined herein apply to the United States,\3\ Puerto 
Rico, and the Island Areas.\4\ In accordance with the final criteria, 
the Census Bureau may modify and, if necessary, reject any proposals 
for CCDs that do not meet the established criteria. In addition, the 
Census Bureau reserves the right to modify the boundaries and 
attributes of CCDs as required to maintain established geographic 
relationships before the final tabulation geography is set for the 2010 

    \3\ For Census Bureau purposes, the United States includes the 
50 states and the District of Columbia.
    \4\ For Census Bureau purposes, the Island Areas include 
American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, 
Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands. 
The U.S. Minor Outlying Islands are an aggregation of nine U.S. 
territories: Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston 
Atoll, Kingman Reef, the Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Palmyra 
Atoll, and Wake Island.

A. General Principles

    1. The primary goal of the CCD program is to establish and maintain 
a set of subcounty units that have stable boundaries and recognizable 
names. The boundaries of CCDs usually coincide with visible features or 
stable, significant legal boundaries, such as the boundary of an 
American Indian reservation, federally managed land, or conjoint 
incorporated places. CCDs have no legal status as statistical 
geographic entities and are defined only for the tabulation and 
presentation of statistical data.
    2. A CCD usually represents a single contiguous area consisting of 
one or more communities, trading centers, or, in some instances, major 
land uses that are relatively compact in shape.
    3. A CCD shall have a relationship to existing census tracts, 
either encompassing one or more census tracts or having two or more 
CCDs nest within a single census tract. The boundaries of a CCD, or 
combination of nested CCDs, align with census tract boundaries. Note 
that a county with a population less than the optimum population for a 
census tract (less than 4,000 people) may contain more CCDs than census 
tracts. For example, McCone County, Montana, which has a 2006 estimated 
population of 1,760, contains only one census tract, but is divided 
into two CCDs.
    4. Since the 1950s, the Census Bureau has worked with state and 
local officials to replace MCDs with CCDs for the collection, 
presentation, and analysis of Census Bureau data, particularly in 
states in which MCDs do not provide governmental services and 
functions, and in which MCD boundaries tend to change between decennial 
censuses. As of Census 2000, CCDs were defined in 22 states: Alabama, 
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, 
Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, 
South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. North 
Dakota adopted CCDs for use in tabulating and presenting data from the 
1970 Census. Following the 1970 Census, North Dakota requested that the 
Census Bureau again use MCDs to tabulate and present statistical data. 
For the 2010 Census, Tennessee has requested that the Census Bureau 
replace its CCDs with county commissioner districts, a type of legal, 
administrative MCD.

B. CCD Criteria for the 2010 Census

    CCDs must (1) have community orientation, (2) have visible and/or 
stable boundaries, (3) conform to census tract boundaries, and (4) have 
recognizable names.
1. Community Orientation
    Each CCD should center on one or more places and encompass 
additional surrounding territory that together form a cohesive 
community area. The definition of community should take into account 
factors such as production, marketing, consumption, and the integrating 
factor of local institutions.
    The locality on which a CCD is centered usually is an incorporated 
place or an unincorporated community, which might be identified as a 
census designated place. In some cases, the CCD may center on a major 
area of significantly different topography, land use, or ownership, 
such as a large military installation or American Indian reservation. A 
CCD should always comprise a reasonably compact, continuous land area, 
generally with road access to all areas within the CCD.
2. Visible and/or Stable Boundaries
    To make the location of CCD boundaries less ambiguous, the 
boundaries should follow, wherever possible, visible and identifiable 
features. The use of visible features makes it easier to locate and 
identify CCD boundaries over time, as the locations of most visible 
features in the landscape change infrequently, making data collection 
easier and more reliable, while reducing the possibility for data 
allocation errors. The Census Bureau requires that CCDs follow state 
and county boundaries, conform to census

[[Page 7524]]

tract boundaries, and allows CCDs to follow the boundaries of federally 
recognized American Indian reservations, and federal-, state-, or 
locally-managed land.
    The following features are acceptable:
    a. County boundaries (always a CCD boundary);
    b. Census tract boundaries, which usually follow visible, 
perennial, natural, and cultural features, such as roads, rivers, 
canals, railroads, or above-ground, high-tension power lines;
    c. Legally defined, federally recognized American Indian 
reservation boundaries;
    d. The boundaries of federal-, state-, or locally-managed land, 
such as National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests, other 
types of large parks or forests, airports, marine ports, prisons, 
military installations, or other facilities; and
    e. Conjoint city limits (in certain situations, such as city limits 
that change infrequently).
    f. When the above types of features are not available for use as 
CCD boundaries, the Census Bureau may, at its discretion, approve other 
nonstandard, visible features, such as ridge lines, above-ground 
pipelines, streams, or fence lines. The Census Bureau may also accept, 
on a case-by-case basis, the boundaries of selected nonstandard and 
potentially nonvisible features, such as the boundaries of cemeteries, 
golf courses, glaciers, or the straight-line extensions of visible 
features and other lines-of-sight.
3. Census Tract Boundaries; Population Size
    Whenever possible, a CCD should encompass one or more contiguous 
census tracts, or multiple CCDs should constitute a single census 
tract. Therefore, CCD boundaries should be consistent with census tract 
boundaries. Population size is not as important a consideration with 
CCDs as it is with census tracts. Historically, CCDs have ranged from a 
few hundred people (in selected situations) to more than one million. 
However, data quality and availability may be factors that local 
governments and planners should consider in defining statistical 
geographic areas. As a general rule, period estimates of demographic 
characteristics of small population areas from the ACS will be subject 
to higher variances than comparable period estimates for areas with 
larger populations. In addition, the Census Bureau's disclosure rules 
may have the effect of restricting the availability and amount of data 
for areas with small populations.
4. Name Identification
     The names of existing CCDs shall not be changed unless a 
compelling reason is provided, such as when the name from which the CCD 
was derived has changed, as in the case of Bainbridge Island, 
Washington, when the name of the city (Winslow) changed.
     A new CCD usually is named after the largest population 
center or historically central place within it (e.g., Taos, Chimayo, or 
Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico).
     Where a CCD contains multiple centers with relatively 
equal importance, a CCD name may represent the two or three centers 
(e.g., Mount Pleasant-Moroni, Utah).
     A CCD may be named after the American Indian Reservation 
(e.g., Hualapai, Arizona or Nez Perce, Idaho) or a prominent land use 
area (e.g., Federal Reservation, Washington or Yellowstone National 
Park, Wyoming) in which it is partially or wholly located.
     A CCD may be named after a prominent physical feature 
(e.g., Mount Rainier, Washington) or a distinctive region within the 
county (e.g., Death Valley, California; Everglades and Lower Keys, 
     If there is no clear cultural focus or topographic name 
that can be applied, a CCD name shall consist of the county name and a 
compass direction to indicate the portion of the county in the CCD or a 
place name and a compass direction to give the CCD location relative to 
the place. The directional indicator precedes a county name (e.g., 
Northeast Cobb, Georgia). If a place name is used, the directional 
indicator follows it (e.g., Del Rio Northwest, Texas).
    In all cases, the objective is to clearly identify the extent of 
the CCD by means of an area name since CCD names always should be 
meaningful to data users. Any name used as a CCD name must also be 
recognized by the Board on Geographic Names for federal use and appear 
in the Geographic Names Information System maintained by the U.S. 
Geological Survey. This includes any individual names combined to make 
a hyphenated CCD name.

IV. Definitions of Key Terms

    American Indian reservation--A federally recognized American Indian 
land area with boundaries established by final treaty, statute, 
executive order, and/or court order, and over which a federally 
recognized American Indian tribal government has governmental 
authority. Along with reservations, designations such as colonies, 
communities, pueblos, rancherias, and reserves apply to American Indian 
    Block group--A statistical subdivision of a census tract consisting 
of all census blocks whose numbers begin with the same digit in a 
census tract. A block group is the smallest geographic entity for which 
the Census Bureau normally tabulates sample data.
    Census block--A geographic area bounded by visible and/or 
nonvisible features in the Census Bureau's Master Address File/
Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing database. 
A block is the smallest geographic entity for which the Census Bureau 
tabulates decennial census data.
    Census designated place--A statistical geographic entity with a 
concentration of population, housing, and commercial structures that is 
identifiable by name, but is not within an incorporated place.
    Census tract--A small, relatively permanent statistical geographic 
division of a county defined for the tabulation and publication of 
Census Bureau data. The primary goal of the census tract program is to 
provide a set of nationally consistent small, statistical geographic 
units, with stable boundaries that facilitate analysis of data across 
    Conjoint--A description of a boundary shared by two adjacent 
geographic areas.
    Contiguous--A description of a geographic entity having an 
uninterrupted outer boundary, such that it forms a single, connected 
piece of territory. Noncontiguous areas form separate, disconnected 
    Federally managed land--Territory that is federally owned and/or 
administered by an agency of the U.S. federal government, such as the 
National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, or Department of 
    Incorporated place--A type of governmental unit, incorporated under 
state law as a city, town (except in New England, New York, and 
Wisconsin), borough (except in Alaska and New York), or village, 
generally to provide specific governmental services for a concentration 
of people within legally prescribed boundaries.
    Minor civil division--The primary governmental or administrative 
division of a county in 28 states, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas 
having legal boundaries, names, and descriptions. MCDs represent many 
different types of legal entities with a wide variety of 
characteristics, powers, and functions depending on the state and type 
of MCD. In some states, some or all of the

[[Page 7525]]

incorporated places also constitute MCDs.
    Nonvisible feature--A map feature that is not visible on the 
ground, such as a city or county boundary through space, a property 
line running through space, a short line-of-sight extension of a road 
to another visible feature, or a point-to-point line of sight.
    Visible feature--A map feature that can be seen on the ground, such 
as a road, railroad track, major above-ground transmission line or 
pipeline, river or stream, shoreline, fence, sharply defined mountain 
ridge, or cliff. A nonstandard visible feature is a feature that may 
not be clearly defined on the ground (such as a ridge), may be seasonal 
(such as an intermittent stream), or may be relatively impermanent 
(such as a fence). The Census Bureau generally requests verification 
that nonstandard features pose no problem in their location during 
fieldwork by Census Bureau staff.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice has been determined to be not significant under 
Executive Order 12866.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This program notice does not represent a collection of information 
subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C., 
Chapter 35.

    Dated: February 5, 2008.
 Steve H. Murdock,
 Director, Bureau of the Census.
 [FR Doc. E8-2348 Filed 2-7-08; 8:45 am]