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Apr 5 -- The Census Bureau invites comments to OMB by May 5, 2022 regarding the Ask U.S. Panel Pilot.

The Ask U.S. Panel (“the Panel”) Pilot will recruit a probability-based nationwide nationally-representative survey panel to test the methods to track public opinion on a variety of topics of interest, and for conducting experimentation on alternative question wording and methodological approaches.

A large-scale field Pilot Test will be conducted to recruit members for the panel, based on a probability sample of U.S. adults. Once Pilot Panel members are recruited, they will receive a topical survey to complete. The current notice announces the content of the topical survey for both the general population and the Department of Defense samples.
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. In the Pilot Test, a sample consisting of approximately 1,700 people that will be recruited and surveyed as a proof-of-concept to refine methods that can be used to recruit a final panel.  The current request is for the Pilot Test.  

The goal of the 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.  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 are guiding the design, content and methodological rigor of the Panel.  
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 agencies 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 pilot test methods for an online research panel that could be available for robust public opinion, methodological research, and rapid-response data collection for the common good.  

This long-term objective supports the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence Based Policymaking (https://www2.census.gov/adrm/fesac/2017-12-15/Abraham-CEP-final-report.pdf) in several ways:  

Promotes a multi-year learning agenda that supports the generation and use of data as evidence;
Enables coordination of the public sector’s evidence-building activities; and
Streamlines the approval processes for new data collections and uses existing flexibilities in procurement policy.

The statistical community at large has been struggling with near-real-time measurement of key areas, including:

Privacy and confidentiality opinions and preferences;
Public attitudes towards data collection and use of administrative records;
Methodological choices regarding online instrument design decisions;
Survey design choices regarding wording and contact timing;  
Messaging strategies to increase response rates; and
Novel data collection needs due to emerging national events, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

OMB Standard 1.4 from the Office of Management and Budget, Standards and Guidelines for Statistical Surveys, requires Federal Agencies to appropriately pretest data collection instruments prior to fielding them. The Panel will eventually offer a platform on which to conduct pretests with a nationally representative audience.

Existing commercial online panel alternatives typically fail to meet OMB’s standards for transparency, which require sufficient detail on data collection and estimation methods to allow reproducibility, and sufficient detail on data quality and representativeness to enable OMB to evaluate the fitness for purpose.

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 a future full panel.  

The baseline survey will pilot collecting demographic data that would later be used to assess representativeness of the panel and to understand potential nonresponse bias in future surveys. Items on the baseline survey would 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 to observe barriers, attitudes, and motivators towards the Census Bureau.

Examples of questions in topical survey:
Government Responsiveness

1. How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
5-point scale: Strongly agree, Agree, Neither agree nor disagree, Disagree, Strongly disagree

I have strong understanding of the political issues facing our country.  
I have a role to play in the political process.  
When policy issues or problems are being discussed, I always have something to say.
I'm better informed about politics and government than most people my age.  
I'm well qualified to participate in the political process.

2. Please answer how much you agree or disagree with the following statements.  
5-point scale: Strongly agree, Agree, Neither agree nor disagree, Disagree, Strongly disagree

The government cares what people like me and my family think.  
The government cares about us ordinary people.  
People like me can rely on the police for protection.  
The U.S. government is pretty much run for the rich, not for the average person.  
The police are fair.  
The government will do whatever it wants to do, no matter what people like us feel.  

Informal Resource Network

Many people experience personal issues and seek emotional support from family or friends.  

3. If you needed support for a personal issue, who could you turn to for emotional support? Please select all that apply.

Parent (biological, adoptive, foster, step, in-law)
Brother(s)/Sister(s) (biological, adoptive, foster, step, in-law)  
Other(s) (please specify relationship, for example: aunt, uncle, cousin, neighbor; do not include any names in your response):  _______________________  

6. If you needed financial support in the next 12 months, who could you turn to among your family and friends?  Please select all that apply.

None of my family or friends would be appropriate [EXCLUSIVE]
Parent (biological/adoptive/foster/step)
Brother(s)/Sister(s) (include biological, adoptive, foster, and step siblings)  
Other(s) (please specify relationship, for example: aunt, uncle, cousin, neighbor; do not include any names in your response): _________________________  


10. How often do you feel that you, personally, are discriminated against for any reason?


11. [IF QUESTION 10 ≠ 1] In what ways have you have been discriminated against? Please select all that apply.

Verbal (slurs, comments, jokes)  
Physical (attacks)  
Being avoided or not chosen for something  
Being denied opportunities  
Other (please specify) ____________________

12. [IF QUESTION 10 ≠ 1] For what reasons do you feel that you have been discriminated against? Please select all that apply.

For my disability (physical or mental)  
For my age  
For my sexual orientation  
For my race or ethnicity  
For my national origin  
For my gender  
For my religion  
Other (please specify) ________________

13. [IF QUESTION 10 ≠ 1] How did you respond to the discrimination? Please select all that apply.

Accepted it as a fact of life and did nothing [EXCLUSIVE]
Worked harder to prove them wrong  
Talked to someone about what I experienced
Expressed anger or got mad
Other (please specify) _________________

Ask U.S. Panel Pilot proposal: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202204-0607-001 Click IC List for survey instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
Topical survey instrument: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=120081600
FR notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-07104

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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