Written by: John H. Thompson
Today, we marked an important milestone on the road to the 2020 Census with the opening of the Local Census Office for the 2014 Census Test. We will conduct the test in parts of Washington D.C. and Montgomery County, Md., and it was gratifying to see the community support for this important research endeavor.
Why is it so important to conduct this first of several field tests now? By investing in this research and testing, we can take steps to reduce the cost of the census and make it easier for people to respond. Those who are selected to participate in the 2014 Census Test are helping us produce a better census in 2020.
For the test, July 1, 2014, is Census Day, or the reference day for measuring the population of the test area. I strongly encourage you to participate, if selected, and be a part of building an innovative and cost-effective 2020 Census. Approximately 200,000 households will be included in the test. Respondents should fill out the questionnaire based on the people and circumstances of their household as of July 1, 2014.
Participating, if selected, is not the only way you can help us with the test. We are also hiring about 1,000 temporary workers locally to conduct it. If you live in the area and are interested in applying for a job, you can find more information here.
We will have a series of tests leading up to the 2020 Census and for the 2014 Census Test, some of our research will test Internet response. Although the 2010 Census did not offer it as an option, we have been using it for the American Community Survey and other surveys for several years now. Our enumerators will also use a smartphone app for quicker and more accurate data collection from non-responding households.
In addition, for some households, we will test a pre-registration portal, a new concept that allows you, the respondent, to tell us how you would like to be contacted, in the way that is most convenient for you. These contact methods include email, text messages, standard mail or phone with directions how to pre-register and/or respond to the 2014 Census Test.
All of these efforts are important, because even though 2020 may be several years away, the Census Bureau has to make key design decisions by the end of next year. The way we get to those decisions is through results of the 2014 Census Test and other research we are conducting.
We want to take advantage of both technology and information in 2020 to potentially reduce the overall cost by $5 billion compared to conducting the census on paper.
I will continue to update you on our progress toward a 2020 Census that is on time and on budget. Remember, we must invest now to save later.