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2020 Census data quality and accuracy

Due to the numerous changes to the census timeline that have led to questions about the quality of the enumeration process, a number of independent groups and advisory bodies have issued reports and recommendations on indicators that the Census Bureau could release in order to help establish confidence in the accuracy of the data. Below are some of those reports.

The Census Bureau has developed a new disclosure avoidance system referred to as Differential Privacy. Intended to protect the privacy of individual responses as required by Title 13. A number of data scientists have raised concern about the new system’s effect on data quality and usability. In a series of analyses, OFM has registered its concern about the bureau’s plan and is also closely following reports from other entities addressing data quality concerns.

Given the challenges from the 2020 census, a number of counties and cities have asked if there are mechanisms for requesting a correction to census data after results are released. The Census Bureau describes the generic procedure for requesting corrections across all of its data products per OMB guidelines.

In terms of the decennial census, the most frequent methods that cities and counties use are described below. The links refer to procedures and timelines as deployed in the 2010 census. Once information about these processes directly connected to the 2020 census is released, OFM will update the links.

  • Count Question Resolution Program – State, local and Tribal area elected officials can challenge their jurisdiction’s 2020 Census counts through the Census Count Question Resolution (CQR) Program, which will accept challenge submissions from October 1, 2021 through June 30, 2023. The Bureau’s goal is to complete and adjudicate all challenges by September 30, 2023. The Census Bureau will not collect additional data during the challenge process, but the challenge could correct a geographic boundary, coding of a housing unit and housing units for a local area, or address processing errors. If a challenge results in a change, the Census Bureau issues official revised counts, which the Bureau and OFM will use in their subsequent estimate series.
  • Request a Special Census – The Census Bureau may conduct a basic enumeration of population, housing units, and group quarters at the request of, and at the expense of, a governmental unit under the Special Census program. Local officials might request a Special Census when there has been a significant population change in their community due to growth or annexation. The Special Census program typically suspends operations two years before and two years after the decennial census.

Last updated
Friday, May 28, 2021
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