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Dec 7 [Census was able to provide materials for public review on Feb 2] -- The Census Bureau invites public comment on the planned Ask U.S. Panel (“the Panel”), a probability-based nationwide nationally representative survey panel for tracking public opinion on a variety of topics of interest to numerous federal agencies and their partners, and for conducting experimentation on alternative question wording and methodological approaches. The Ask U.S. Panel may also be used to collect nationwide rapid-response data to address emerging data needs. Public comments are due by February 7, 2022.
 
The goal of the Ask U.S. Panel is to ensure availability of frequent data collection for nationwide estimates on a variety of topics and a variety of subgroups of the population, meeting standards for transparent quality reporting of the Federal Statistical Agencies and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The Panel is an interagency effort, with representatives from Census, the Economic Research Service, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration guiding its design, content and methodological rigor, that will be used to meet data needs across the federal statistical system.

The programs that provide essential statistical information for use by governments, businesses, researchers, and the public are carried out by independent agencies and spread across several departments within an agency. These are referred to as Federal Statistical Agencies and they serve the public by providing independent, non-partisan data about the country. This clearance request aims to build and maintain an online research panel that would be available for robust public opinion, methodological research and rapid-response data collection by Federal Agencies and at a later stage, nonprofit organizations, for the common good. This would facilitate both longitudinal and quick-turn-around, probability-based research that many government agencies and non-profit organizations are interested in conducting.  
 
The Panel will be developed through a multi-year effort. The first year of data collection will focus on conducting a large-scale field Pilot Test. Nationally representative data collection based on a probability sample of US adults will begin in the year following the pilot test.

Data will be collected in two distinct phases. In Phase 1, ten percent of the panel (1,700 people) will be recruited and surveyed as a proof-of-concept to refine methods. In Phase 2, the remainder of the panel (17,000 people) will be recruited and surveyed using methodology refined during Phase 1.

Access to a pool of pre-recruited panel members, including historically undercounted populations, will help researchers at the Census Bureau (Census) and other Federal Agencies better understand public opinion related to federal data collection, including administrative data matching, privacy, and confidentiality and will facilitate methodological testing. The Panel will consist of an entirely new representative, probability sample of U.S. adults who are not members of an existing survey panel. The addition of targeted subgroups and general replenishment to supplement the existing panel will likely be desirable in the future.  

The Pilot will answer critical methodological questions about ability to recruit and retain historically undercounted population groups in the panel. The Pilot will provide proof of concept for the use of tablets by non-internet households, the use of alternate (in-person, phone, text) nonresponse follow-up and the effects of those methodologies on retention. Results from the Pilot will be used to refine the methodology in Phase 2 (full Panel recruitment).

The baseline survey will collect demographic data that will later be used to assess representativeness of the panel and to understand potential nonresponse bias in future surveys. Items on the baseline survey will also be available for weighting adjustment and subsampling in future surveys.

The first topical survey that will be used as a proof-of-concept will be developed from the Census Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators Survey (CBAMS). The CBAMS questionnaire will be adapted from that used prior to the 2020 Census and will be used to measure intercensal mindsets towards the Census Bureau and Census Bureau data collections. The Pilot topical survey will be a field test of the survey instrument to be used throughout the coming decade to observe barriers, attitudes, and motivators towards the Census Bureau.
 
Using RTI's address-based frame, a probability sample of addresses in the United States (excluding territories) will be taken with oversamples of specific populations of interest, including households who face food insecurity and households who speak Spanish as a first language. A separate sample of active-duty military members and active-duty military spouses will also be recruited from a frame provided by the Department of Defense. In the pilot, potential panelists will be mailed invitations and asked to participate in an online or inbound telephone screener. If the household qualifies, two members will be randomly sampled and invited to join the panel by completing the baseline questionnaire in the same mode (online or inbound telephone). Households who do not respond to the mailed invitation will be in sample for a face-to-face nonresponse follow up. In these cases, an interviewer would administer the screener and the baseline questionnaire. Participating households who do not have stable internet access will be offered a tablet device with cell service for the duration of the panel to facilitate participation. Panelists will be eligible for online topical surveys no more than once a month once they join the panel for up to 3 years. These methods may be refined between the pilot and the build-out of the panel.
 
Draft Ask U.S. Panel technical documentation and pilot screen and questionnaire: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/homq23d5cs8bc1x/AABQSA1lkuZhhvI2JBShnpCva?dl=0
FR notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/12/07/2021-26515/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-to-the-office-of-management-and-budget-omb-for

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