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Feb 6 -- The U.S. Census Bureau invites public comments by April 7, 2023 regarding the proposed new Census Household Panel.

Early research and development work has demonstrated the value of a high-quality panel to improve representativeness and significantly reduce burden on households in the interests of collecting high-frequency data. This notice outlines plans for the development of the Census Household Panel consisting of a pool of households carefully selected and recruited by the Census Bureau to reflect the diversity of our Nation's population. Panel participants will opt in to respond to different survey requests—or importantly, to participate in the same survey over time to produce longitudinal data that measure change over time. Development of this Panel at the Census Bureau allows the agency to draw representative samples accurately and quickly, responding to the need for timely insights on an array of topics and improving data outputs inclusive of historically undercounted populations.

The initial goal for the size of the Panel is 15,000 panelists and households selected for the Panel will come from the Census Bureau's gold standard Master Address File. This ensures the Panel is rooted in this rigorously developed and maintained frame and available for linkage to administrative records securely maintained and curated by the Census Bureau. Initial invitations to enroll in the Panel will be sent by mail and questionnaires will be mainly internet self-response. The Panel will maintain representativeness by allowing respondents who do not use the internet to respond via in-bound computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). All panelists will receive an incentive for each complete questionnaire. Periodic replenishment samples will maintain representativeness and panelists will be replaced after a period of three years.

This Panel will become integral to rapidly providing insight on national events that may impact social, economic, or demographic characteristics of the population. Traditionally, Federal surveys are designed to collect and disseminate data on a slower timetable to produce statistically robust key measures of the society and economy. In keeping with growing needs for more timely information, however, the Census Bureau seeks to complement these important, established surveys with new mechanisms such as the Census Household Panel which can produce data much closer to real time as the events develop. The Panel will also help us research questions related to surveys. For example, this Panel will allow us to conduct nationally representative field tests to test content changes in an efficient and reliable fashion in support of other surveys. We also will look at alternative methods for enhancing data with administrative and other external data sources and developed modeled data. The Panel will provide a critical platform for developing adaptive design procedures that use auxiliary data sources. Adaptive design has proven to reduce costs, improve data quality, and maintain and improve representativeness in the data we collect and use.

Leveraging its experience reaching and engaging households, and its reputation for statistical rigor and transparency in the production of Federal statistics, the Census Bureau will build the Census Household Panel in-house in a manner that affords users a full understanding of the methodology in keeping with Federal statistical standards, including response rates and weighting. This transparency into the way in which the statistics are developed will provide Federal agencies the confidence necessary to use the data in their policy making.

The Census Bureau will conduct this information collection online using Qualtrics as the data collection platform. Qualtrics currently is used at the Census Bureau for research and development surveys and provides the necessary agility to deploy the Census Household Panel quickly and securely. It operates in the Gov Cloud, is FedRAMP authorized at the moderate level, and has an Authority to Operate from the Census Bureau to collect personally identifiable and Title-protected data. Panelists will be able to respond online and by inbound CATI (computer-assisted telephone interviewing). Inbound CATI will be used for respondents who do not want to or cannot complete questionnaires online. Outbound CATI nonresponse follow-up will also be conducted. Panel recruitment will consist of mail contacts and telephone follow-up, with the possibility of personal visit.

The sample will be drawn from the Census Bureau's Master Address File. The sampling plan will be provided in the Supporting Statements. Participants will be enrolled via a screener and a baseline questionnaire. Following enrollment, participants will be invited to complete monthly topical surveys. Incentives will be provided to respondents and the strategy for incentives will be outlined in the Supporting Statements.
Draft data collection instrument and technical documentation requested from Census by AEAStat.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-02470

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