Census Bureau Transparency Urged to Help GOTC

While the COVID-19 crisis has led to historic delays in the 2020 Census, partners in the get-out-the-count operations are seeking improved Census Bureau transparency.

Denice Ross of Georgetown University wrote in The Hill that, “For example, local census partners are spreading the word that residents who need help filling out the form can call the Census Bureau. However, if the bureau were to share data on call volumes, then partners could tell residents when the best time to call is, rather than clogging up the phone lines and causing long wait times that discourage residents from completing the process. Complete Count Committees and Census Bureau Partners need that type of data in an open format so they can incorporate it into their own carefully planned outreach efforts.”

Ross proposed several data streams that would be useful for the Bureau to provide

  • “weekly analysis on response rates for specific hard-to-reach populations like children ages 0-5 and renters to hone partner outreach messaging,” in addition the existing self-response rate reporting;
  • “Completion rates for the non-response follow-up workload so trusted local messengers can encourage participation”;
  • “Group quarters workload completed by type of facility (nursing home, college dorm, correctional facility, etc.) and by state, so state and local officials can provide support for sectors falling behind in the count”;
  • “hourly wait times by language line” from the Census Bureau’s call centers, “and the most common questions from callers, such as ‘when will I get my paper form?’”; and
  • “recruiting goals by county,” if the Bureau needs more workers, including “demographic characteristics and language skills,” so that local partners can help identify potential job candidates.”

“Transparency is essential for a successful 2020 Census during the COVID crisis.” By Denice Ross. May 16, 2020. https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/498044-transparency-is-essential-for-a-successful-2020-census-during-the-covid