Here at the U.S. Census Bureau, we have a long history of innovation. We’re committed to reflecting an accurate portrait of our nation, and our success depends on delivering statistics that address the needs of all our data users.
Meeting our nation’s information needs through developing statistical products is an enormous task, requiring continual modernization. In the modern digital era, massive amounts of data are generated as we go about our daily lives. There are many new data sources and data science advances. There’s also an increased demand for information—data users across the nation want more timely, accurate, granular, and customizable information about our people, places, and the economy than ever before.
Through past listening sessions with data users, we know there are many topics that can’t be studied by single surveys, censuses, or data sources alone. These topics include things like climate extremes, broadband deployment, the gig economy—and, notably, tribal areas.
That’s why I’m so excited to announce the Census Bureau plans to engage American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) stakeholders on the design of new experimental statistical products. This is an extension of our ongoing commitment to engage with tribes. We’ll be using the tribal listening sessions as the starting point to gather AIAN stakeholder feedback to better understand their information needs. The implications of providing quality statistics for our nation’s tribal communities are widespread; among other important uses, federal funding for tribal programs often relies on Census Bureau statistics.
Until now, the Census Bureau has primarily published statistics that delineate AIAN as a category within larger and more generalized statistical products. But going forward, we are taking a closer look at what we produce and seeking input from stakeholders to better inform what we collect and produce under our Title 13 statutory authorities. This means we’re widening our lens to work across programs to develop statistical products informed by what stakeholders need our statistics to support. Keeping within those authorities, we’ll explore the development of statistical products designed with the AIAN community in mind, including tribes, researchers, and federal partners.
Through engagement in the tribal listening sessions and discussions with AIAN stakeholders, we will seek input on how we can use our existing data and our statistical and data science methods to develop statistical products within our legal authorities that better address stakeholder needs.
The development of these future statistical products will be a continuous journey—not a linear, “start-to-finish” process. Understanding the public’s informational needs will help to ensure that our authorized censuses, surveys, and affiliated administrative records collections yield statistics that will help meet those needs. Because our new approach depends on in-depth, ongoing dialogue with our data users—including the AIAN community—it’s also a step towards increased data equity and access.
As we expand this new way of designing statistical products, I look forward to sharing more about how we are reengineering our processes, practices, and thinking about how a federal statistical agency operates in today’s world. By changing how we provide statistics, we will better meet the nation’s complex and diverse informational needs—and we can’t wait to get started.