Preliminary Considerations on Key Components of the Communications Research and Analytics Roadmap (CRAR)

The mental models research results provided critical insight needed to develop the foundation for the Communications Research and Analytics Roadmap (CRAR) to support the Communications Directorate as it works to integrate communications services and improve participation in Census Bureau data collection and dissemination activities. Implementing the CRAR will enable the Census Bureau to design and implement an integrated communications program that is science based, customer centric, and data driven.

The research revealed the following value case, which we used as a fundamental driver for the design of the CRAR. A critical need, and a key driver for improving how the Census Bureau engages and communicates with funders, key stakeholders, and citizens was clearly articulated by one of the expert interviewees, who noted:

“In 2000, the Census cost about $6.5 billion. In 2010 we are coming in at about $12.7 billion. If we make no changes in the Census design, the Census is going to cost close to $20 billion or more in 2020. Those escalating costs are untenable.... in 2010, we calculated that for every increase of one percentage point in response rates, we saved the government $82 million.”

Others noted that the cost of Census Bureau data collection is growing while funding constraints are increasing. Census Bureau priorities, processes, methods, and tools are under increasing scrutiny. Interviewees discussed the need to:

  • • Increase data collection participation, while decreasing the cost;
  • • Increase the number of users of CB data, with emphasis on what they perceived to be “casual users” who could benefit significantly from the use of CB products and services;
  • • Improve user access to CB products and services through: enhanced internet access, specialized applications; better data visualization; more user-centric reports, etc.; and
  • • Enhance understanding of the value and application of CB data products to a wider range of users’ daily life.
  • • Improve the collaboration and coordination of communications across CB to foster a more customer-centric focus.

Several interviewees believed that Census data collections could be made more cost effective by:

  • • Increasing response rates and decreasing need for follow-up; and
  • • Applying innovations such as the use of administrative records and expanding Internet response options.
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