U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Skip Header

Population Estimates Challenge Program

The Population Estimates Challenge Program has been resumed as of November 22, 2022.

The Federal Register Notice announcing the resumption of the program can be accessed here:

This program provides eligible general-purpose governmental units with the opportunity to file requests for the review of their population estimates for 2021 and subsequent years in forthcoming estimates series, beginning with the Vintage 2022 series that was released in 2023.

Under this program, a governmental unit may challenge their population estimate by submitting additional data to the Census Bureau for evaluation.

A challenge may result in a revised estimate if either of the following errors are found:

  1. Technical error in processing input data or producing the estimates
  2. Incorrect input data used in the process of generating the estimates


In cases where the Census Bureau processed the information correctly but was provided incorrect input data, we will make reasonable efforts to provide corrected estimates.

A request for a challenge to the population estimates must be received within 90 days after the release of the estimate by the Census Bureau. This request includes a letter and supporting evidence (please see the Challenge Review Guide for specifics). The challenge period for the July 1, 2021-2022 county-level population estimates from Vintage 2022 began on March 31 and ended on June 28, 2023. The challenge period for the July 1, 2021-2022 subcounty-level population estimates from Vintage 2022 began on May 19 and ended on August 16, 2023. Future challenge periods for upcoming vintages will be determined by the individual date the data are released. The release schedule can be accessed here: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/about/schedule.html.

The Census Bureau solicited comments from the public about any ways in which the program might be improved. In particular, the Census Bureau welcomed comments about (1) the methodology used in preparing the annual Population Estimates, (2) the sources of data that the agency considers (or does not consider) in preparing the annual Population Estimates, and (3) what sorts of factual or methodological arguments the agency considers (or does not consider) in evaluating a potential challenge. 

The Final Federal Register Rule with responses to comments published to the Federal Register on March 24, 2023, providing details on the rulemaking and responses to comments:


For more information, please view the Challenge Review Guide, Appendices, and Results. 

Please note that the Challenge Review Guide and Appendices have incorporated changes to the Population Estimates Challenge Program detailed in the Final Federal Register Rule published to the Federal Register on March 24, 2023. Updated versions of these documents are now available. For any questions pertaining to the challenge process or how to initiate a challenge, please contact pop.challenge@census.gov.

Handling Legal Boundary Issues

If you believe that the recording of legal boundaries for your government is incorrect, please contact the Boundary and Annexation Survey (BAS) unit of the Census Bureau's Geography Division on 301-763-1099 or e-mail them at GEO.BAS@census.gov. The Census Bureau updates the geographic boundaries of governmental units through the BAS. The boundary information collected in the BAS is used to tabulate data for the decennial and economic censuses, and annual estimates and surveys such as the Population Estimates Program.

Reporting of Building Permits

Population estimates for cities and towns are produced using building permit data gathered from a survey conducted by the Census Bureau's Residential Construction Branch in the Economic Indicators Division (EID). If your government is not being contacted by this survey or you disagree with the collected data, please contact the Residential Construction Branch on 301-763-5160. In the event that you decide to submit updated building permit data through the challenge process, the data may be subject to review by the staff in EID.

For assistance, please contact the please contact the Population Estimates Challenge Program on 301-763-2461 or send an email to pop.challenge@census.gov. Please include your name, mailing address, telephone number and organization name.

Page Last Revised - August 24, 2023
Is this page helpful?
Thumbs Up Image Yes Thumbs Down Image No
255 characters maximum 255 characters maximum reached
Thank you for your feedback.
Comments or suggestions?


Back to Header