U.S. Census Bureau Integrated Communications Services for Data Dissemination: Mental Modeling Case Study with Key Internal Expert Stakeholders

Daniel Kovacs and Sarah Thorne

The Opportunity

The Census Bureau is a complex organization responsible for conducting and making available the results of the Decennial Census as well as hundreds of individual surveys in an increasingly tight budgetary environment. The Communications Directorate within the CB is a key agency responsible for supporting these activities through communications and engagement with internal and external stakeholders, including: Congress (which funds CB activities), program areas within the CB that conduct surveys, other government agencies which sponsor individual surveys or conduct related research, and businesses and individuals who can use Census data and are also potential respondents to Census surveys and the Decennial Census.

In response to these challenges, the Communications Directorate asked our Project Team, led by Reingold in partnership with Decision Partners and Penn Schoen Berland, for support in establishing a customer-centric and data-driven method of communications to better support the CB’s mission to make data and analyses from its surveys and censuses available to the general public and other key audiences. In the first stage of this project, the Team developed a Communications Research and Analytics Roadmap to provide the needed insight to guide the development of effective integrated communications services. The foundational mental models research reported here provided the critical insight required to develop the Plan.

D. Kovacs, Ph.D. (*)

Decision Partners, 1458 Jersey Street, Lake Milton, OH 44429, USA e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

S. Thorne , M.A.

Decision Partners, 1084 Queen Street West, #32B, Mississauga, ON, Canada L5H 4K4 e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

M.D. Wood et al., Mental Modeling Approach, Risk, Systems and Decisions, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-6616-5_13

The first step in the Mental Modeling approach was to develop a clear opportunity statement. The following Research Opportunity was developed in collaboration with the CB Team at the kickoff meeting for Task 2[1] in October 2012:

The research opportunity in Task 2 is to leverage existing research and CB knowledge to develop a science-based, research-informed Communications Research and Analytics Roadmap, starting with the development of an expert model, to guide development and implementation of integrated communications services for data dissemination. We will:

  • Identify key internal stakeholders’ mental models;
  • Define external audience segmentation;
  • Identify key internal and external influencers;
  • Identify key communication channels;
  • Refine messaging; and
  • Optimize communications products and marketing materials.

Implementation of the Plan will enable the CB to design and implement an integrated communications program that is science-based, customer-centric, and data-driven.

  • [1] Task 2 was one of several tasks in a larger project that was awarded to Reingold in 2012. DecisionPartners’ contractual involvement in this project was limited to this Task.
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