Written by: Director Robert Groves
With the completion of each census, as local officials examine the just-delivered population counts, many are disappointed. They are totally focused on strengthening and building their communities, and many view the size of the population as evidence of their success. They have also learned the lessons that political representation and program funding are linked to population counts.
Hence, when the population counts don’t meet their expectations about their population size they have real concerns.
We at the Census Bureau, from our evaluations of past censuses, know that no Census of the US is perfect. Indeed, we know from studying the evaluations of censuses around the world, that no other census has achieved a perfect count. What we attempt to do is provide multiple opportunities for every US resident to participate in the census, in search of that perfection. If the paper questionnaire is not returned by mail we visit the address many times over days and weeks, in an attempt to count everyone accurately.
The Census Bureau has sponsored a program for some decades that reviews the concerns that local officials raise about their counts – the Count Question Resolution program. This year the program begins on June 1, 2011 and extends through June 1, 2013.
There are three types of corrections that can occur through the Count Question Resolution program:
- Boundary—These challenges may address the inaccurate reporting or the inaccurate recording of boundaries legally in effect on January 1, 2010. The Census Bureau needs to ensure that the geographic assignment information provided by governmental units does not, in fact, reflect boundary changes made after January 1, 2010.
- Geocoding— These challenges identify suspected errors in the geographic location of living quarter addresses within the governmental unit boundaries and census tabulation blocks.
- Coverage—These challenges, if upheld by the Census Bureau, result in the addition or deletion of specific living quarters and persons associated with them identified during the census process, but which were erroneously included as duplicates or excluded due to processing errors.
We ask the local officials to submit to us a list of addresses that they believe were misprocessed in the 2010 Census.
For the 2000 Census, 1,183 of the approximate 39,000 jurisdictions submitted questions to the program. There were many small changes that occurred throughout the country, but the net effect was to add 2,697 persons to the previously reported population total of 281,421,906. Thus, finding evidence of large shifts due to the three types of errors above was difficult in 2000.
Whatever happens during Count Question Resolution, we seek to be cooperative, honest, and transparent in what we do.