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For Immediate Release: Friday, April 01, 2016

Census Bureau Reaches Milestone on the Road to 2020 Census

Press Release Number CB16-61

Four Years from Census Day 2020, the 2016 Census Test will Refine Methods and Test New Technologies

APRIL 1, 2016 — The 2016 Census Test, now underway, will refine many of the innovative and cost-saving methods tested in preparation of the 2020 Census. Four years before “Census Day” on April 1, 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau remains on schedule for the most innovative and modern census ever.

“We are now more than halfway to the 2020 Census,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. “Our research and testing have leveraged the best resources and experience inside and outside of the government to ensure that we produce a high quality census in 2020 that is the most technologically advanced and automated census in history while also easy and secure to complete.”

The 2016 Census Test is being conducted in portions of Harris County, Texas [PDF], and Los Angeles County, Calif. [PDF] On March 21, 2016, about 225,000 households in each location began receiving notifications by mail from the Census Bureau asking them to complete their 2016 Census Test questionnaires. Respondents can respond online, by phone or on paper in English, Spanish, Chinese or Korean. Residents in these two sites will help the Census Bureau refine methods to maximize response via the Internet, test plans for managing new technology systems and applications and refine its new cost-saving and automated methods for following up with households that do not respond to the census.

The quickest and easiest way to respond is online. Respondents may also choose to respond by filling out a paper questionnaire by mail or by phone through a toll-free Census Questionnaire Assistance line. Telephone assistance is available in Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese), Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Arabic and French. Households that do not complete the survey online, by phone or mail will receive a visit from a census taker.

The Census Bureau selected portions of Harris County and Los Angeles County because they are representative of large and demographically diverse metropolitan areas with significant levels of language diversity, varying levels of Internet usage and high vacancy rates. These sites will help the Census Bureau test the management of new technology systems and devices in two sites simultaneously.

Test goals include:

  • Refine technologies and methods for assigning cases to field staff conducting nonresponse followup.
  • Continue to refine the use of mobile technology for data collection and case management.
  • Study partnership and outreach efforts for communicating with historically hard-to-count populations, including providing assistance in multiple languages.
  • Continue to refine self-response options, including how people respond using the Internet, mobile devices, the telephone and paper questionnaires.
  • Support continued refinement of methods to process responses submitted in real-time without a unique Census Bureau-provided address identification code.
  • Continue to research how best to use existing government and commercial information to reduce the follow-up workload.

For more information, visit census.gov.

Road to the 2020 Census

In 2016, the Census Bureau is refining a variety of new methods and advanced technologies that are under consideration for the 2020 Census. The primary focus of the test is to refine the methodology for following up with households that do not self-respond to the census. As 2020 operations move forward, the Census Bureau will continue to improve the use of mobile technology, administrative records, innovations from the geospatial industry and self-response via the Internet that will support the 2020 Census. This test will provide insights and guide our planning to ensure an accurate census.



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