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2020 Census In-Field Address Canvassing (IFAC) Operational Assessment Report

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The In-Field Address Canvassing (IFAC) operation was the first full-scale field operation of the 2020 Census. Historically, Address Canvassing (AdCan) field staff, referred to as listers, traversed almost every block in the United States and Puerto Rico, comparing their observations on the ground with the U.S. Census Bureau’s address list. For structures with living quarters or suspected to contain living quarters, listers verified or corrected addresses that were on the list, added new addresses to the list, and deleted addresses that no longer existed. Listers also collected map spot locations (latitude/longitude coordinates) for each structure and added new streets.

For the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau carried out a different strategy for AdCan than the full fieldwork strategy used in the 2010 Census. Research reported in the Address Canvassing Recommendation (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014) showed that this method is not always the most effective way to update the address frame, especially as advancements in technology have enabled Census Bureau to update address and spatial data continually throughout the decade. The availability of up-to-date high quality, high-resolution aerial and satellite imagery, and other tools, along with multiple sources of address information such as partner-provided data and other data sources, provided the Census Bureau with viable methods to reduce the amount of fieldwork conducted in many parts of the United States, especially in areas that have been residentially stable.

The Census Bureau managed the IFAC operation out of six regional census centers (RCCs) and 39 area census offices (ACOs) across the United States. Using automated systems and mobile devices to field canvass Type of Enumeration Area (TEA) 1 areas, also known as self-response areas, the Census Bureau successfully completed the operation on schedule and under budget.

This assessment reviews the IFAC operation in the context of its goals, scope, and analysis questions, as detailed in the assessment study plan (Lane and Williams, 2018). This document provides both qualitative and quantitative information about the 2020 IFAC operation. After review and discussion of information, this document provides recommendations for future IFAC efforts.

Key successes for the operation included successfully executing an updated design to automate the operation and canvass less than 100 percent of TEA-1; successfully updating training and training delivery strategies with positive reviews from field staff; and carrying out an efficient operation that completed on time and under budget.

Key challenges experienced by the operation included staffing lister positions and long hiring clearance times for applicants; challenges relating to thorough system testing; segmentation of data and systems because of late solution allocation changes; and lister error, particularly in listing group quarters (GQs) and transitory locations (TLs). 

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