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July 3 -- The Census Bureau invites comments to OMB by August 2, 2023 regarding the proposed new Military Panel.

The Census Military Panel is a national survey panel by the U.S. Census Bureau (Census) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) consisting of active-duty service members and spouses of active-duty service members that have agreed to be contacted and invited to participate. The ultimate goal for the Military Panel project is to recruit at least 2,000 panel members (1,000 service members and 1,000 spouses) including panelists recruited in the pilot and randomly selected directly from military administrative data.

Current large-scale DoD surveys collect definitive data on an annual or biannual basis.  However, due to rigorous statistical methodology, findings lag data collection up to 18 months.  Access to a pool of pre-recruited panel active-duty service members and spouses of active-duty service members will allow the Census to rapidly gather data on indicators for key issues, including retention and readiness.  
Panel survey methodology has a faster turn-around and tends to have better response rates than one-time independent surveys of the population.  Providing DoD leadership with near “real-time” data to respond to issues, such as food insecurity, housing, financial well-being, and trust in government, aligns the mission of the Department of Defense.

Potential panelists will be mailed invitations and asked to participate in an online or inbound telephone screener. If the respondent qualifies, they will be 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 telephone nonresponse follow up. In these cases, an interviewer would administer the screener and the baseline questionnaire. Once they join the panel, panelists will be eligible for online topical surveys every other month for up to 3 years.

Data products for the Panel will include tabulations of findings; white papers and briefings to be used internally by DoD leadership and program areas and Congress to assess and adjust policies/programs to support military resilience, readiness, and retention.

The Census Bureau will conduct this information collection primarily online using Qualtrics as the data collection platform.  Qualtrics provides the necessary agility to deploy the Census Military 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 13-protected data. Qualtrics is an online data collection platform that allows survey invitations to be distributed electronically via email and/or SMS.  Survey invitations for the Census Military Panel will be distributed to sampled participants via letter, email, and SMS, and data collection will occur on the web (via self-response or with the assistance of a CATI operator). The data collection platform is optimized for use on a mobile device, so may be used via any type of internet access.

Census submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202306-0607-004 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-14094

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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