Definition of Terms

Definition of Terms

  • Address Canvassing 
    The program implements methods to improve and refine the U.S. Census Bureau’s address list and related digital maps in advance of the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau needs the address and physical location of each living quarter in the United States and Puerto Rico to conduct the census and accurately tabulate the data. An accurate list ensures that residents will be invited to participate in the census and that the census counts residents in the correct location. For the 2020 Census, much of the address canvassing is being conducted “
    In Office,” using aerial imagery, third-party (commercial) data, and administrative records from federal, state, and local sources. About 30 percent of census blocks will be canvassed “In-Field” in late summer of 2019 by address listers. In-Field address canvassing will not be conducted in rural areas with non-city style addressing, remote areas, on tribal lands or in Puerto Rico.

  • Area Census Office (ACO) / Field Office
    A temporary office established to oversee census operations in a specific area. These operations include address listing
    field work, local recruiting, the Group Quarters operation, and visiting households to conduct the 2020 Census.

  • American Community Survey (ACS)
    Legally part of the decennial census, the ACS is an ongoing, representative survey of approximately 3.5 million homes a year (295,000 per month). The ACS replaces the older census “long form” and asks more questions than the decennial questionnaire to produce annually-updated estimates of key social and economic characteristics down to the census tract level, including data on local economies, health and housing. Like the census, response to the ACS is mandatory.

  • Block
    Statistical areas bounded by visible features, such as streets, roads, streams, and railroad tracks, and by nonvisible boundaries, such as selected property lines and city, township, school district, and county limits and short line-of-sight extensions of streets and roads. Generally, census blocks are small in area; for example, a block in a city bounded on all sides by streets. Census blocks in suburban and rural areas may be large, irregular and bounded by a variety of features, such as roads, streams, and transmission lines. In remote areas, census blocks may encompass hundreds of square miles. Census blocks cover the entire territory of the United States, Puerto Rico and the MUNICIPAL ACTION GUIDE 33 Island Areas. Census blocks nest within all other tabulated census geographic entities and are the basis for all tabulated data.

  • Block Groups
    Statistical divisions of census tracts that are generally defined to contain between 600 and 3,000 people and are used to present data and control block numbering. A block group consists of clusters of blocks within the same census tract that have the same first digit of their four-digit census block number. For example, blocks 3001, 3002, 3003, . . ., 3999 in census tract 1210.02 belong to BG 3 in that census tract. Most BGs were delineated by local participants in the Census Bureau’s Participant Statistical Areas Program. The Census Bureau delineated BGs only where a local or tribal government declined to participate, and a regional organization or State Data Center was not available to participate.

  • Census of Governments
    A collection of information from all state and local governments in the United States conducted twice a decade in years ending in “2” and “7.” Participation of all state and local governments – including counties, cities, townships, special districts and school districts – is mandatory.

  • Complete Count Committee:
    A volunteer committee established by tribal, state, and local governments, and/or community organizations to include a cross-section of community leaders, including representatives from government agencies; education, business, and religious organizations; community agencies; minority organizations; and the media. The committees are tasked with developing and implementing a 2020 Census outreach, promotion, recruiting, and enumeration assistance plan of action designed to help the Census Bureau target and address the unique needs of their communities.

  • Dress Rehearsal (2018 End-To-End Census Test)
    A dry run of the census process conducted in Providence County, Rhode Island, in 2018. The dress rehearsal was held to test the integration of IT systems and most operations in a census-like environment and identify problems prior to the actual census in 2020.

  • Enumerator
    A Census Bureau employee who collects census information by visiting households during census field operations.

  • Hard to Count (HTC)
    Groups or populations who have historically been undercounted and/or traditionally have not responded well to the decennial census questionnaire, such as ethnic/ minority populations, renters, and
    low-income households.

  • Local Update of Census Address (LUCA) Program
    A voluntary program conducted two to three years prior to the decennial census, during which state and local governments review and help update the Census Bureau’s master address file (MAF). A government’s highest elected official must register a jurisdiction’s participation in LUCA. The Census Bureau must offer the program, by law.

  • Master Address File (MAF)
    A Census Bureau database of every residential address, including household living quarters and group facilities, that is used to conduct the decennial census and other household surveys. This address file is updated throughout the decade and is supplemented by information provided by tribal, state, and local governments.

  • New Construction Program
    To ensure the most accurate address file possible, the Census Bureau typically affords local governments the ability to add addresses for new construction built after the final address canvassing concludes in the fall of 2019. The program will likely run between April and January 2020.

  • Non-Response Follow Up (NRFU)
    A field operation designed to obtain a completed interview from households that do not self-respond to the census. Enumerators will make personal visits to these households to obtain completed interviews. The enumerator will collect respondents’ answers to the census questions or information. If all attempts to contact the individuals of a household are unsuccessful, an enumerator will try to obtain as much information as possible about the household from a neighbor, building manager, or another reliable source.

  • Partnership Specialist
    Takes a lead role in outreach and promotional efforts before and during census operations. Main duties include increasing awareness and outreach in communities and gaining cooperation and participation from those communities.

  • Regional Census Center (RCC
    One of six temporary Census Bureau offices that direct and advise local census offices for the 2020 Census. There also are six permanent Regional Census Offices that will assist with the 2020 Census operations and also conduct one-time and ongoing MUNICIPAL ACTION GUIDE 35 Census Bureau surveys, such as the Current Population Survey (CPS), which collects monthly labor force data, and the American Community Survey (ACS), a nationwide survey designed to obtain information similar to the previous census long form data and to provide communities a fresh, more current look at how they are changing.

  • Respondent
    The person who answers the Census Bureau’s questions about his or her living quarters and its occupants. The respondent is usually the member of the household who owns or rents the living quarters (the “householder” or Person 1 for purposes of a census form).

  • Response Area Outreach Mapper (ROAM)
    A web-mapping application developed to make it easier to identify hard-to-count areas and to provide a socioeconomic and demographic characteristic profile of these areas using American Community Survey estimates available in the Census Bureau Planning Database.

  • Self-Response
    When households complete and return their census questionnaire in a timely manner, directly to the Census Bureau, without requiring a census worker to visit the house to obtain their responses in person. Self-response—by internet, mail, or phone—is significantly less costly than in-person follow-up.

  • State Complete Count Commission (SCCC)
    Like a local CCC, state governments typically enter into this kind of formal partnership with the Census Bureau. The commission is composed of tribal, state and local government officials and private or nonprofit organization leaders and provides the structure and support to engage the state’s stakeholders and encourage participation in the census.

  • Title 13 (U.S. Code)
    The collection of laws under which the Census Bureau operates (also known as the Census Act). This law guarantees the confidentiality of personal census information and establishes strict penalties for disclosing this information. It also provides the authorization for conducting censuses in Puerto Rico and the Island Areas.

  • Tract
    Small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a county or equivalent entity that are updated by local participants prior to each decennial census as part of the Census Bureau’s Participant Statistical Areas Program. The Census Bureau delineates census tracts in situations where no local participant existed or where state, local, or tribal governments declined to participate. The primary purpose of census tracts is to provide a stable set of geographic units for the presentation of statistical data