In the 2010 and earlier censuses, the Bureau mounted a full address canvassing operation, where field staff travelled virtually every road in the country to update the Master Address File (MAF) and the associated mapping database called TIGER (Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing). This labor-intensive effort was one of the more expensive components of the 2010 Census. It required 140,000 temporary workers to verify 145 million addresses (by going door-to-door) at a cost of
Administrative records are a growing source of information on individuals and households. The Bureau has estimated that it could save up to
Depending on the results of ongoing research, Bureau officials plan to build a composite of quality administrative records from various sources (i.e., federal agencies, state and local governments, and commercial sources) that it can use to reduce or replace costly field work. Successful use of such a database presents challenges the Bureau will need to address. For example, as we reported in 2012, while the Bureau has access to some federally collected data, it does not have access to all of the federally collected administrative data that could potentially help it reduce the cost of the 2020 Census. n16 Further increasing the Bureau's access to records may involve negotiations with states or other federal agencies, potential statutory changes, and discussions of personal privacy protections, and most likely it would be a time-consuming process. In addition, the use of administrative records may present difficult decisions about tradeoffs between cost and quality, which the Bureau is actively researching to inform.
Strengthening IT Management and Security Practices
Additionally, the Bureau is exploring technology options for census operations that collectively represent a dramatic leap from 2010. These options include the possible use of a "bring your own device" model to enable enumerators to use their own mobile devices for field data collection. Given the role of information technology in conducting the census, while controlling costs and protecting privacy, it is essential that the Bureau strengthen its ability to manage these investments, as well as its practices for securing the information it collects and disseminates. The following represent long-standing IT challenges that, if effectively addressed, will significantly enhance the Bureau's ability to acquire these solutions within cost, schedule, and performance targets.
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