Traditionally, the U.S. Census Bureau in the 8th year of its decennial planning cycle, tests new counting techniques with a large-scale field test. Last year, due to funding shortages, the Bureau announced that it was drastically cutting back on the 2018 End-to-End field test.
Originally, the test was scheduled for about 700,000 targeted housing units in rural West Virginia, suburban Washington State and urban Providence, Rhode Island. With funding shortfalls, the Bureau will only test 275,00 housing units in Rhode Island using new IT methods it plans to employ for the 2020 Census. The Bureau’s single test will not test the advertising/communications components of the original test plan focused on Hard-to-Count populations also due to funding shortages.
The implementation of the Providence test is underway with the establishment of local census offices and the recruitment of census takers.
On March 16, the Bureau will send two separate letters to the test residences asking for either an internet first reply (188,000 residences), or a letter plus a paper questionnaire indicating an internet choice (87,000 residences). Five separate mailings will be done by April 23. More than 1,000 census enumerators will then swing into action to complete the test among those who have not responded either by the internet or via a paper questionnaire. Peak operations will be April 1, exactly two years from the actual 2020 Census.