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U.S. Census Bureau Announces Changes to 2017 Field Tests

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Today, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it will stop plans to test field operations in Puerto Rico, the Standing Rock Reservation in North and South Dakota, and the Colville Reservation and Off-Reservation Trust Land in Washington State in 2017. Instead, we will consider including these sites in our 2018 End-to-End Census Test.

We did not make this decision lightly; we’re less than one year from beginning field work on the 2018 End-to-End Census Test – the final, major test for the 2020 Census. But as we enter FY 2017, we don’t have clarity about our funding for the year. Based on what we know now, the proposed funding levels require us to prioritize other activities in 2017 rather than expend the resources necessary to conduct the two field tests we had planned for 2017.

Given the current uncertainty about FY 2017 funding, the Census Bureau will not continue expending resources to prepare for the 2017 field tests. Continuing amid such uncertainty would all but guarantee wasted efforts and resources. It would risk our readiness for the 2018 End-to-End Census Test; more than $5 billion in cost avoidance; and the high data quality of the 2020 Census – and those are risks we aren’t willing to take.

While we will not conduct these field operations in 2017, we will consider testing them in 2018. Also, we must re-plan the 2017 Census Test to only include the activities necessary to ensure we are best prepared for the 2018 End-to-End Census Test – the national self-response component including the real-time non-ID operation, the use of Census Questionnaire Assistance, and internet collection using Cloud technology.

This decision lets us focus our 2017 program resources on operational and systems readiness, including integrating, securing, and testing our systems. It ensures that we can smoothly deploy the integrated suite of 2020 Census systems in time for the 2018 End-to-End Census Test.

For more information about the Census Bureau’s decision to postpone the 2017 Census Test on tribal lands and the 2017 Puerto Rico Census Test, see our decision memo. You can follow along with all of our preparations for the 2020 Census at www.census.gov/2020census.

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