The U.S. Census Bureau announced Tuesday that the 2019 Census Test will begin this week, as approximately 480,000 housing units across the country receive a questionnaire testing the operational effects of including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

The 2019 Census Test will randomly assign households to two panels and ask them to respond to the 2020 Census questions. Panel A will include the question on citizenship, Panel B will not.

Findings from the nationwide test will assist in determining updates to 2020 Census operations, such as how many census takers are needed to follow up with nonresponding households and how to better communicate with households about the 2020 Census.

During the 2020 Census, people will be able to respond in even more languages (including French, Polish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Japanese, in addition to the languages used in the 2018 Census Test), totaling 13 languages available through the internet and phone.

Despite adding additional response modes to the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will still need to employ thousands of census takers throughout the country to ensure a complete and accurate census.
The goal of the 2020 Census is to count everyone once, only once and in the right place. The Census Bureau is using expert resources and experience in and out of the government to make the 2020 Census a success. As census operations and testing move forward, the Census Bureau will continue to improve its use of mobile technology, administrative records, innovations from the geospatial industry, and self-response via the internet.

The Census Bureau has already conducted extensive research and testing:

  • The 20132014 and 2015 Census Tests across the country studied a wide range of topics — from race and ethnicity questions to automating field operations to internet self-response. The results were critical in forming the 2020 Census Operational Plan.
  • The 2016 Census Test refined many of the innovative and cost-saving procedures and methods documented in the operational plan. We focused on finalizing methods for field automation and using administrative records and third-party data to reach households that do not respond to the census.
  • The 2017 Census Test,  assessing the integration of operations and systems needed for households to respond to the census online in advance of the 2020 Census. The test also included telephone and traditional paper questionnaire response options.
  • 2018 End-to-End Census Test. This is the final large-scale test of operations before conducting the 2020 Census.
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