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OVERVIEW OF THE CENSUS BUREAU’S SURVEY DATA COLLECTION OPERATIONS AND FIELD STAFF PowerPoint Presentation
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OVERVIEW OF THE CENSUS BUREAU’S SURVEY DATA COLLECTION OPERATIONS AND FIELD STAFF
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  1. OVERVIEW OF THE CENSUS BUREAU’S SURVEY DATA COLLECTION OPERATIONS AND FIELD STAFF Presentation to the Quarterly Public Meeting of the Occupational Information Development Advisory Panel Social Security Administration September 22, 2011

  2. WHO WE ARE • Census Bureau Headquarters • Regional Offices Nationwide Decentralized Field Staff • National Processing Center Telephone Centers

  3. SIZE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CENSUS BUREAU’S FIELD STAFF FRs SFRs Number 8,718 611 Employee Type Intermittent 7,293 62 Part-Time / Full Time 1,425 549 Average Number of Surveys 3.2 8.3 Average Length of Service (Years) 5.5 11.5 Average Hours Worked (Monthly) 58.2 123.4 Average Hourly Salary $15.06 $20.07

  4. WHAT WE DO • Nation’s headcount every 10 years – Constitutional mandate • Household Demographic Surveys • Economic Censuses and Census of Governments every 5 years • Economic surveys and Governments surveys

  5. DATA COLLECTED IN THE CENSUS BUREAU’S HOUSEHOLD DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEYS • Income • Employment, Unemployment, Labor Force • Health • Education • Consumer Expenditures • Housing • Crime Victimization • Poverty • Community and Local Area Demographics and Characteristics

  6. CENSUS BUREAU HOUSEHOLD DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEYSSIZE AND SCOPE • Data gathered from approximately 2.1 million sample addresses, group quarters and other facilities and address listed each year • Approximately 45 million miles driven by field staff each year

  7. RECRUITING, SELECTING, AND HIRING FIELD STAFF • Generating interested applicants • Testing to identify qualified applicants • Preparing certificate of qualified applicants • Making contingent job offer • Background security check and criminal history investigation • I-9 • Take the Census Oath of Confidentiality

  8. KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CENSUS BUREAU’S FIELD STAFF • Part-time employees • Work out of their homes • Highly variable work schedule – evenings and weekends • A “people” person and a good listener • Drawn to challenges, persistent, does not take “no” for an answer • Self-starter, well-organized, detail-oriented • Local knowledge and “street smarts”

  9. OTHER ATTRIBUTES OF THE CENSUS BUREAU’S FIELD STAFF • Older workers • Many “second job” workers and workers with other commitments e.g. family and school • The “public face” of the Census Bureau • Incredibly conscientious and dedicated

  10. TRAINING • Initial Training Pre-Classroom Use of Laptop Computer Generic Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Survey – specific • Classroom Training Administrative Survey Procedures

  11. TRAINING • Initial Observation Translating classroom training to actual data collection experience • Ongoing Training Monthly memos • Refresher Training Periodic training to keep knowledge and skills up-to-date and sharp • Prepare for changes in procedures and instruments • Use of laptop computer • Personal safety and security • Vehicular safety

  12. GAINING RESPONDENT PARTICIPATION AND COOPERATION • “Selling the Survey” • How survey data are used. Who uses the survey results. • “What’s in It for the Respondent” • Confidentiality • Privacy

  13. GAINING RESPONDENT PARTICIPATION AND COOPERATION • Uses of “advance letters” to alert / notify the respondents • Making the best first impression • The first critical seconds on the doorstep or the telephone: Complete, concise and persuasive introduction

  14. QUALITY CONTROLQUALITY ASSUARANCE • Striving for best possible response rates consistently • General Performance Review Field observation • Reinterview Falsification deterrent Critical content verification

  15. SURVEY PROCESS DATA“PARADATA” • Pace of the interview • Response / Accuracy / Completeness • Timing of First Contact / Interview • Identify performance outliers Identify trends and patterns • Should work in harmony with survey goals and should complement each other

  16. SURVEY PROCESS DATA“PARADATA” • Manage and monitor surveys for improved statistical results and operational performance • “Speed Limits” – Too fast and too slow • Rates of item response / nonresponse • Interviews completed by proper mode • Consistent entries of contact history

  17. SURVEY PROCESS DATA“PARADATA” • Linked to beneficial responsive management and operational strategies and approaches • Easy to understand, easy to use, accurate, and timely • Should make “sense” to the data collection staff and motivate performance in the “right direction”

  18. MONITORING OPERATIONAL DATA DAILYCOST, PROGRESS, PRODUCTIVITY • Daily submission of completed work • Cases completed each day • Hours, miles, other costs • Daily productivity Hours / case Miles / case • Daily submission of payroll data • Daily support for procedures and technical requirements

  19. PROVIDING A CONSTANT STREAM OF FEEDBACK TO FIELD STAFF • Setting response, timing, and cost expectations • Daily monitoring and interaction with field staff • Daily payroll submission by field staff • Key results from each data collection assignment • Establish performance standards and conduct formal periodic performance appraisals

  20. FIELD ASSIGNMENTS • Compact geographically • Achievable • Consistent in size and scope • Reassignment / Future assignment of cases to staff who had previous success obtaining a complete interview

  21. OVERVIEW OF KEY STEPS IN DATA COLLECTION PROCESS • Identify data / information need • Determine data collection methodology and approach • Draw sampling frame and select sample • Develop data collection instrument • Test questions • Develop training

  22. OVERVIEW OF KEY STEPS IN DATA COLLECTION PROCESS • Develop data processing and tabulation system • Develop quality control and quality assurance systems • Determine timing and timeline for data collection and processing • Establish operational and quality standards and expectations • Develop administrative support systems • TEST EVERYTHING

  23. MANY, MANY CHALLENGES FACED IN CONDUCTING DATA COLLECTION • General public concerns about confidentiality, privacy, and identity theft • Reluctance to share / provide personal information, especially with the government • Mobility and movement of the population • Busy schedules: Ever narrowing window of opportunity to contact respondents by personal visit or telephone • Cell phones replacing telephone land lines • Caller ID and other means of screening incoming telephone calls

  24. MANY, MANY CHALLENGES FACED IN CONDUCTING DATA COLLECTION • Barriers to contact and enumeration including gated communities and security buildings • Increasing number of languages spoken by households • Complex households and housing units • Households not willing to participate in long interviews and / or surveys that include multiple interviews

  25. CURRENT SURVEY ISSUES • Maintaining and sustaining response rates • Cost containment and remaining cost competitive • Improving measurement and monitoring of survey operational, financial, and time performance • Expanding measurement and monitoring of data quality through paradata • Making improvements in field staff retention • Reacting to weather and natural disasters