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By law, the 1790 Census schedules were posted in the “two most public places within each jurisdiction, there to remain for the inspection of all concerned.” From the beginning, one of the hallmarks of the U.S. census has been conducting an objective process and subjecting the results to a thorough review.
The U.S. Census Bureau continues the proud tradition of striving to conduct the highest quality census possible. We build quality into how we collect and process the data, and we evaluate the quality of those activities and their results.
Given the challenges the census faced in 2020, we know there is keen interest in how we are evaluating the census. To evaluate the quality of the census, we use a variety of methods that are independently reviewed by nationally and internationally recognized outside experts.
In this blog, we discuss more about the CPEX program.
Since 1950, the Census Bureau has incorporated evaluative programs intended to assess the current census and speak to potential improvements for the next one. The 2000 Census Testing, Evaluations, and Experiments Program was extensive. Its scope included 87 evaluations and assessments across 18 categories and was designed to measure the effectiveness of methods, procedures and operations.
The 2010 CPEX focused resources on 22 evaluations and six experiments, in addition to a large suite of operational assessments. The 2010 program provided the basis for many of the innovations implemented in the 2020 Census. For example:
The Census Bureau started planning for the 2020 CPEX by asking external groups to envision what a 2030 Census might look like and how society might be different in 2030. The Census Bureau took those visionary reports and derived guiding principles to help researchers develop proposals.
The final set of studies forms a cohesive research and evaluation program. The 2020 CPEX is a culmination of seven decades of expertise and experience in developing a comprehensive research program to evaluate how well census operations reflect the Census Bureau’s strict quality standards.
The 2020 CPEX program is designed to document and evaluate the current decennial census and facilitate planning efforts for the next one by way of four types of studies:
The 2020 CPEX consists of three experiments, 14 evaluations, 50 operational assessments, and five quality control results reports. The three experiments are described as follows:
The following seven 2020 Census evaluations cover aspects of the 2020 Census from the early listing operations through specific enumeration challenges in later follow-up operations:
The remaining seven 2020 Census evaluations focus on the creation and impact of the communications campaign, as well as on measuring public perception over time in the unprecedented census environment.
In addition to the 2020 Census experiments and evaluations, we will conduct 50 operational assessments that cover nearly all 35 census operations. Some operations have multiple assessments. For example, the Reengineered Address Canvassing operation has assessments for both the in-field portion and the in-office portion. Assessments provide invaluable documentation of operational metrics that are critical inputs for future planning. They provide detailed information on workloads, production rates, actual costs compared with planned costs and lessons learned. The operational assessments, along with the experiments, evaluations and quality control results, provide insight and direction for census improvements and innovation.
For all CPEX reports, authors and analysts follow a quality process that includes rigorous fact-checking and indexing to data sources to ensure that these products meet the Census Bureau’s quality standards and abide by all agency product requirements. The process serves as a quality assurance tool and has been in place since the 2000 Census.
The purpose of the process is to ensure that quality is built into the products throughout the development cycle from requirements definition all the way to issuance of the final report. The quality process activities are formally implemented and are tracked in the 2020 Census Integrated Master Schedule. Because it involves specific steps, the process provides frequent opportunities to identify and correct errors, which leads to a superior final product and establishes confidence in the accuracy of the final results.
By design, the scope of our CPEX program is quite large and requires a wide breadth of data and analytical and subject-matter expertise. The studies generally begin in the year the census completes (the “0” year). The studies are completed and published on a flow basis over two to three years. For example, the first study from the 2010 CPEX was published in the summer of 2011 and the final study was completed in early 2013.
Pandemic-related delays to 2020 Census data collection and processing have also pushed back our release dates for CPEX reports. The table below provides planned release dates for the earliest CPEX reports:
|Year||Quarter||CPEX Report Release|
|2022||Jan-Mar||Operational Assessment: In-Office Address Canvassing|
|2022||Apr-Jun||Operational Assessment: Update Leave|
|2022||Apr-Jun||Operational Assessment: Update Enumerate|
|2022||Apr-Jun||Operational Assessment: In-Field Address Canvassing|
|2022||Apr-Jun||Operational Assessment: Non-ID Automated and Clerical Processing|
|2022||Apr-Jun||Operational Assessment: Federally Affiliated Count Overseas (FACO)|
|2022||Apr-Jun||2020 CPEX: Extending the Decennial Census Environment to the Mailing Materials|
We’re developing a quarterly release schedule for the full CPEX scope. We’ll post this schedule on our 2020 Census Data Quality page in the future — and update it as dates change.