Minutes of the Quarterly Meeting
Friday, March 9, 2001
9:00am to 3:00pm
Bureau of Labor Statistics Conference Center

Report from the Board of Directors

Maurine Haver, Chair, COPAFS
Maurine called the meeting to order.

Update on Recent Developments and Council Activities

Edward Spar, Executive Director - Ed Spar welcomed Don Hernandez as the new representative from the American Sociological Association.

  • Distributed a sheet from the release "Guidance on aggregation and Allocation of Multiple Race Responses for Use in Civil Rights Monitoring and Enforcement. If you request a full copy from the OMB they will send you a copy.
  • The Adjustment Issue - to be addressed later in meeting when Marshal Turner will speak. This issue was raised in response to the announcement on Wednesday that the Census will release unadjusted numbers to the states for use in redistricting.
  • The federal statistical budget was distributed. There were no major issues with the 2002 budget, mainly because of the new administration is still looking at the new budgets closely. Its projected that all changes may be out by early April 2001.
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis was singled out by President Bush. It will receive nine million dollar increase for 2002 if approved.
  • Full budget listings were distributed in the meeting packet.

Ed Spar then went on to discuss H.R. 375: "Title 1-Abolishment of Department of Commerce" act, pointing out that it was a "cheeky" bill . It's a reprise from 1996, and it has reintroduced the idea to abolish the Department of Commerce and takes the Moynihan Bill idea to consolidate three other agencies for the purpose of creating a Federal Statistical Service. It is cheeky because BLS (one of the departments slated for consolidation) is not part of Commerce.

List of Attachments Distributed in Meeting.

  • Attachment A: FY 2001 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 106-554).
  • Attachment B: Census memorandum announcing release of housing units data before STFs.
  • Attachment C: Scheduled Release for American Community Survey data, and ACS detailed Geography Releases before STF. 
  • Attachment D: Guidance on Aggregation of Multiple Race Responses. OMB will send full copy to all requestors.
  • Attachment E: Calendar of Releases of Census Products.

The meeting dates for COPAFS for 2001 are June 8, September 21, and December 14, 2001.

Delivering Redistricting Data: It's Almost Over.

Marshall Turner, U.S. Census Bureau, and Mr. Kim Brace, President of Election Data Services.

Redistricting data was released that day for Oklahoma, Iowa, and Arkansas. Also South Dakota March 9th or 10th. There are 66,000 complete Census Tracts, and 130,000 voting districts. Also eight million census blocks.

Mr. Kim Brace proceeded to demonstrate real time software for use in redistricting the states. He stated that some major newspapers had already analysed the redistricting data, which contains over 288 variables (but with many zero cells.)

VTDs - Voting tabulation Districts (a.k.a. precincts) are receiving greater interest this year as a unit of analysis (rather than tract or zip code) because its what politicians understand. EDS uses zip plus 4 clusters to try and identify "communities of interest". Census press releases are currently up on web site, and contain percentages of who identified by multiple race.

The projected battleground with this data is if more than one group wants to claim the multiracial population for purposes of obtaining funds or voting district changes as these totals will add up to more than 100% percent (due to persons being counted twice.)

The speaker next proceeded with a real time demonstration of mapping software Maptitude (tm) to analyze the newly released data, and showed how it could redistrict for you.

An Update from the Hill

Jane Cobb, House Subcommittee on the Census,Government Reform Committee;
David McMillen, House Government Reform Committee.

The Census decided not to release a set of adjusted numbers. There was an indication that there were problems with the data, and they agreed not to release the adjusted data just yet, though they are still conducting ongoing analyses to evaluate it.

This was done for several reasons. First, it raised political concerns such as the following.

  • Legal questions yet to be resolved about the use of adjusted data.
  • Public policy concerns about getting full participation from the public in the future, e.g. the public could perceive that their answers are not necessary to future census because shortfalls in response rates will be made up by adjusting the numbers.
  • Concerns about degradation of demographic data from Census. Public policy is complicated by the structure of the race/ethnicity question and there are worries about the accuracy problems at low levels of geographical aggregation with adjusted data.

Thus the powers that be believed that beyond the pure science of adjustment they also had to consider the public policy, legal, and public participation ramifications of adjustment.

There is a collision between the new look of the U.S. as a melting pot versus the gathering of racial data. There is a subcommittee looking towards 2010 Census planning, and separating the short from the long forms. The House wants to work with the bureau on this.

  • Congress wants better data via the ACS, but it also needs the decennial census.
  • We need to ask how will the Census Bureau deal with the Americans abroad issue (a.k.a. the protest from Utah that missionaries out of the country caused a loss of seats).
  • They are also looking at lessons learned from the 2000 census to incorporate into the Decennial census and the ACS.

David McMillen:

Under consideration right now is:

  • What questions need to be added to the long form.
  • The fact that the census bureau was surprised at the decennial numbers (higher than anticipated). Thought ACS would measure a 1% undercount, but instead it found an over count. Does this signify greater in-migration than anticipated?
  • Among the most problematic issue is the Hispanic population estimates

Question: Was cutting the ACE data sample size in half in the late 90's a fatal flaw leading to the inability to produce adjusted numbers?

Answer: David McMillen: It might have affected the projections of an overcount. One scenario has 50% of the double counted persons being minority.

Jane Cobb: Public policy issues concern was key. It was felt that too many assumptions were made about how minorities would respond to the census. We felt those assumptions to be too anecdotal for Congressman Miller. This is not just a mathematical exercise, we are concerned about people.

Question: Will Cong. Miller support funding of the ACS?

Answer: He supports the concept, but needs more information. The committee is in the early stages and it need to learn a lot.

In 1990 it cost $25/ per household to count everyone in the census. In 2000 it took $55-60/household (in inflation adjusted dollars.) It is unclear if that amount of investment will happen again.

Question: What are the priorities for the future?

Answer: Jane Cobb: We need to look at data sharing versus privacy issues. Cong. Horn will focus on that.

The speakers were thanked and given a round of applause.

Afternoon Session

The Federal Electronic Research and Review Extraction Tool (FERRET)

Cavan Capps, U.S. Census Bureau.
See attachment for presentation details. Contact presenter at The DataFerrett User's Guide is available on line at under the user's guide button.

New Transportation Indicators

Peg Young, Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Presented the monthly U.S. Department of Transportation Statistics 'Transportation indicators' book to members. Copies of the report can be obtained by contacting Deborah Johnson BTS Room 3430 Nassif Building. Phon: 202/8578. or e-mail:

Concerns of COPAFS Constituencies

Ed Spar was congratulated on the timeliness of the COPAFS newsletter on line, and on the E-mail news bursts. A round of applause was also given to Maurien Haver for her work.

The meeting adjourned at 3:00 pm.

Sarah Zapolsky, AARP, Secretary COPAFS

  • Sarah Zapolsky AARP
  • Carolyn Summers Guest: Former APDU NEA
  • Ann Gray DSS/Princeton U. Library
  • John Leavy Nielsen Media Research
  • Ed Spar COPAFS
  • Mark Nord Rural Soc Society
  • Dale Belman Industrial Relations Research Assoc
  • Kelvin Pollard Pop Reference Bureau
  • Nancy Torrieri U.S. Census Bureau ACS Outreach
  • John Fetto American Demographics
  • Name Representing
  • Joe Garrett Mathematica Policy Research
  • Chet Bowie Census Bureau
  • Murray Aitkin ESSI
  • Marilyn McMillen NCES
  • Dan Levine Westat
  • Dick Kulka RTI
  • Peg Young Bureau of Transportation Statistics
  • Bill Evans AEA
  • Wendy Alvey ASA
  • Dan Estersohn The Arbitron Company
  • Ralph Rector The Heritage Foundation
  • John Knapp AUBER
  • Thomas Brown IASSIST
  • Chuck Waite NABE
  • Marshall Turner Census Bureau
  • John Munyon SeekData, Inc.
  • Lu Jeppesen SeekData, Inc.
  • Pat Doyle Census Bureau
  • John Leffler SeekData, Inc.
  • Margaret Martin COPAFS
  • Dorothy Harshbarger NAPHSIS
  • Richard Forestall Ass. American Geographers
  • Maurine Haver NABE
  • Deirdre Gaguin APDU
  • Stephen Tordella Decision Demographics
  • Patricia Becker APDU/SEMCC
  • Ken Hodges PAA
  • Linda Jacobsen Claritas
  • Don Muff Database Content & Operations Consultant
  • Tim Tang NEA
  • Ken Bryson Census Bureau
  • Clive Richmond Census Bureau
  • Tim Jones Census Bureau
  • Chris Ryan COSSA
  • Cynthia Etkin US GPO
  • Christa D. Jones CMBC
  • John Cromartie AAG
  • Bob Emerson Beyond 20/20 Corp
  • Michael L. Cohen CN Stat
  • Jane Cobb U.S. House
  • David McMillen U.S. House