Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Review and Approval; Comment Request; American Community Survey Methods Panel Tests, 8756-8759 [2021-02606]

Download as PDF 8756 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 25 / Tuesday, February 9, 2021 / Notices statements to make lending decisions as to borrowers’ credit worthiness and to assure that loan funds are approved, advanced and disbursed for proper RE Act purposes. These financial statements are audited by a certified public accountant to provide independent assurance that the data being reported are properly measured and fairly presented. Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 8.17 hours per response. Respondents: Business or other forprofit, Not-for-profit institutions. Estimated Number of Respondents and Recordkeepers: 1,300. Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.35. Estimated Number of Responses: 1,764. Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 14,420 hours. Copies of this information collection can be obtained from Lauren Cusick, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, at (202) 720–1414. Email: Lauren.Cusick@usda.gov.) 205– 3660, Fax: (202) 720–8435. All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record. Christopher McLean, Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service. [FR Doc. 2021–02600 Filed 2–8–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Census Bureau Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Review and Approval; Comment Request; American Community Survey Methods Panel Tests Census Bureau, Commerce. Notice of information collection, request for comment. AGENCY: ACTION: The Department of Commerce, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to comment on proposed, and continuing information collections, which helps us assess the impact of our information collection requirements and minimize the public’s reporting burden. The purpose of this notice is to allow for 60 days of public comment on the proposed revision of the American Community Survey Methods Panel Tests prior to the khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:07 Feb 08, 2021 Jkt 253001 submission of the information collection request (ICR) to OMB for approval. DATES: To ensure consideration, comments regarding this proposed information collection must be received on or before April 12, 2021. ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments by email to acso.pra@census.gov. Please reference American Community Survey Methods Panel Tests in the subject line of your comments. You may also submit comments, identified by Docket Number USBC–2021–0002, to the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. All comments received are part of the public record. No comments will be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov for public viewing until after the comment period has closed. Comments will generally be posted without change. All Personally Identifiable Information (for example, name and address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or specific questions related to collection activities should be directed to G. Brian Wilson, U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Office, 301–763– 2819, George.Brian.Wilson@census.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract The American Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoing monthly survey that collects detailed housing and socioeconomic data from about 3.5 million addresses in the United States and about 36,000 addresses in Puerto Rico each year. The ACS also collects detailed socioeconomic data from about 195,000 residents living in group quarters (GQ) facilities in the United States and Puerto Rico. Resulting tabulations from this data collection are provided on a yearly basis. The ACS allows the Census Bureau to provide timely and relevant housing and socioeconomic statistics, even for low levels of geography. An ongoing data collection effort with an annual sample of this magnitude requires that the ACS continue research, testing, and evaluations aimed at improving data quality, reducing data collection costs, and improving the ACS questionnaire content and related data collection materials. The ACS Methods Panel is a research program designed to PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 address and respond to survey issues and needs. As part of the Decennial Census Program, the ACS also provides an opportunity to research and test elements of survey data collection that relate to the decennial census. As such, the ACS Methods Panel can serve as a testbed for the decennial census. From 2021 to 2024, the ACS Methods Panel may test ACS and decennial census methods for reducing survey cost, addressing respondent burden, and improving survey response, data quality, and survey efficiencies. The ACS Methods Panel may also address other emerging needs of the programs. At this time, plans are in place to propose several tests related to selfresponse, group quarters, and nonresponse follow up data collection operations. Tests may also be conducted to explore the use of administrative records. Because the ACS Methods Panel is designed to address emerging issues, we may propose additional testing as needed. Any testing would focus on methods for reducing data collection costs, improving data quality, improving the respondent experience, revising content, or testing new questions that have a need to be included in the Decennial Census Program. The proposed tests are outlined below. Self-Response Mail Messaging and Contact Strategies Testing: In response to declining response rates and increasing costs, the Census Bureau plans to study methods to increase selfresponse, the least expensive mode of data collection. The Census Bureau currently sends up to five mailings to a sampled address to inform the occupants that their address has been selected to participate in the ACS and to encourage them to self-respond to the ACS. The proposed tests would evaluate changes to the mailings, such as using plain language to improve communication, changing the look and feel of the materials, updating messages to motivate response, and adding or removing materials included in the mailings. Changes to the contact method, the number of contacts, and the timing of the contacts may also be tested. Multiple tests may be conducted. Respondent Feedback Pilot Test: Currently, ACS participants who want to give feedback on their survey experience must call, email, or send letters directly to the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau is considering adding a method for participants to provide feedback at the end of the survey. Because collecting respondent feedback of this nature is new to the ACS, we conducted cognitive testing to inform recommendations on its wording E:\FR\FM\09FEN1.SGM 09FEN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 25 / Tuesday, February 9, 2021 / Notices and display. Additionally, we wanted to learn about participants’ perceptions about having this type of item on the ACS generally, including whether they understood its purpose. Cognitive testing resulted in recommended wording for the feedback question and indicated that respondents understood the purpose of the feedback question (Katz, forthcoming). The Census Bureau is now ready to pilot a feedback question to establish a way to process the comments and evaluate the type of comments received. Respondents will not be required to answer the feedback question. Testing the Use of Administrative Data: The Census Bureau has made significant progress exploring the use of administrative data in surveys and censuses, potentially as a substitute for questions asked of respondents. Administrative data refer to data collected by government agencies and other sources for the purposes of administering programs or providing services. The Census Bureau has evaluated the availability and suitability of several different data sources for use in the ACS to replace or supplement questions pertaining to telephone service, the year a residence was built, condominium status, income, residence one year ago, and self-employment income. We are currently exploring administrative data use to replace or supplement questions pertaining to property values, property taxes, and acreage. Similarly, we plan to evaluate the availability and suitability of using administrative records in lieu of enumeration for institutional GQs (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017). Administrative data may also be used to reduce burden of existing questions by allowing for modification of the questions. For example, the ACS asks respondents to provide their total income for the past 12 months as well as income received from various sources (wages, interest, retirement income, etc.). By supplementing data collection on income with administrative records, we may be able to modify questions to only ask about the source of income rather than the amount. We are cognitively testing this change as well as changing the reference year from the past 12 months to the previous calendar year to align with administrative records sources. As a continuation of this research, the Census Bureau proposes a field test of revised content for income as well as other topics both for the housing unit questionnaire as well as the GQ questionnaire. Some questions may be modified while others would be removed. Multiple tests may be conducted. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:07 Feb 08, 2021 Jkt 253001 Group Quarters Testing: The ACS samples about 19,000 GQ facilities each year. A GQ is a place where people live or stay in a group living arrangement that is owned or managed by an entity or organization providing housing and/ or services for the residents. There are two categories of GQs: Institutional and noninstitutional. Institutional GQs include places such as correctional facilities and nursing homes. Noninstitutional GQs include college housing, military barracks, and residential treatment centers. Most interviews conducted in GQs are interviewer-administered (94 percent of interviews in institutional GQs and 75 percent in noninstitutional GQs), but some GQ respondents self-respond using a paper questionnaire. The Census Scientific Advisory Committee Working Group on Group Quarters in the ACS recommended that the Census Bureau consider making ‘‘an internet version of the ACS available to noninstitutional GQ residents, especially in college dorms, military barracks, and group homes.’’ Additional support was identified for this proposal in a workshop held in 2016 with the National Academies of Science Committee on National Statistics (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016). The Census Bureau proposes a field test of an internet ACS self-response GQ form for residents in noninstitutional GQs. We would evaluate the quality of the data received from the internet instrument compared with traditional data collection methods for GQs (paper questionnaires and intervieweradministered) as well as assess operational issues with offering the internet option, including feedback from interviewers. Content Testing: Working through the Office of Management and Budget Interagency Committee for the ACS, the Census Bureau solicited proposals from other Federal agencies to change existing questions or add new questions to the ACS. These proposals included changes to the following questions: Household roster, educational attainment, health insurance, disability, means of transportation to work, income, weeks worked, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), condominium fees, and home heating fuel. Additionally, three new questions on solar panels, electric vehicles, and sewage disposal were proposed. The objective of content testing is to determine the impact of changing question wording and response categories, as well as redefining underlying constructs, on the quality of PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 8757 the data collected. The Census Bureau proposes evaluating changes to current questions by comparing the revised questions to the current ACS questions. For new questions, the Census Bureau proposes comparing the performance of two versions of any new questions and benchmark results with other wellknown sources of such information. The questions would be tested using all modes of data collection. Response bias or variance may also be measured to evaluate the questions by conducting a follow up interview with respondents. Multiple tests may be conducted. Additional content testing may include a shift in the content collection strategy for the fifth person in the household on the paper questionnaire. In order to reduce respondent burden for large households who self-respond using the paper questionnaire, as well as potentially increase self-response by reducing the size of the paper questionnaire, one testing proposal includes no longer collecting detailed data for Person 5 on the paper questionnaire (i.e., the same items collected for Person 1 through 4) and only collecting basic demographic information (as is currently done for Person 6 through Person 12). Detailed person information for households with five or more people would be collected through a telephone follow-up, similar to what is currently done for households with six or more people. Internet Instrument Testing: In 2013, the ACS incorporated the use of an internet instrument to collect survey responses. The design of the instrument reflected the research and standards of survey data collection at that time. With a growing population using the internet to respond to the ACS, as well as the increased use of smartphones and other electronic devices with smaller screens, an evaluation and redesign of the internet instrument is needed. Design elements will be developed and tested based on input from experts in survey methodology and web survey design. Testing may include revisions focused on improving login procedures and screen navigation, improving the user interface design, as well as methods to decrease respondent burden. Multiple tests may be conducted. Respondent Help Testing: If respondents need help completing the ACS or have questions, they can call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance (TQA) toll-free hotline. When respondents call the TQA, they enter an Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) system, which provides some basic information on the ACS and recorded answers to frequently asked questions. Callers can also request to speak directly E:\FR\FM\09FEN1.SGM 09FEN1 8758 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 25 / Tuesday, February 9, 2021 / Notices to a Census Bureau employee. The Census Bureau is proposing potential testing of changes to the IVR system to improve content and efficiencies in the system. Other methods of offering help to respondents may also be explored and tested, such as the use of chatbots and live online chat assistance. Nonresponse Follow up Data Collection Testing: The Census Bureau is proposing to evaluate the use of adaptive survey design techniques for the ACS nonresponse follow up operation (typically referred to as the ACS CAPI operation). Models and rules would be developed to predict case outcomes and determine interventions for a case, such as assigning a case to a refusal specialist. The models and rules would also prioritize cases based on the likelihood of completing an interview. The adaptive approach would be evaluated by comparing results to traditional methods of case assignment and progress. II. Method of Collection The American Community Survey is collected via the following modes: internet, paper questionnaire, telephone interview, and in-person interview (CAPI). The Census Bureau sends up to five mailings to eligible housings units to encourage self-response. Respondents may receive help by utilizing an IVR system (though response cannot be provided by IVR). Respondents can also call our TQA for help or to respond. Interviewers may visit a housing unit or sampled GQ facility to conduct an interview in person or may conduct the interview by phone. Administrative records are also used to replace, supplement, and support data collection. ACS Methods Panel Tests use all of these modes of data collection or a subset of the modes, depending on the purpose of the test. Specific modes for the tests are noted below. Self-Response Mail Messaging and Contact Strategies Testing evaluate mailout materials that solicit selfresponse using internet, paper questionnaire, and telephone responses. Tests will include housing units only. The Respondent Feedback Pilot would be conducted with self-response modes of data collection. The pilot would include housing units only. The Use of Administrative Data Test would test replacing or substituting all or parts of the ACS with administrative data. Respondents could be presented with a new version of the ACS with some questions not asked and others modified, as compared to production ACS. Evidence suggests that the type of response mode that respondents choose (internet, paper questionnaire, or interviewer-administered) is correlated with different socioeconomic characteristics. Therefore, this test will include all modes of data collection. This test would include respondents in both HUs and GQs. Group Quarters Testing would test the addition of an internet self-response GQ form for residents in noninstitutional GQs. A sample of GQ respondents will be given the option of completing the survey via self-response using an internet instrument. Other residents will continue to be interviewed by paper questionnaire or intervieweradministered modes. Content Testing for item-level changes will be conducted as a split-sample experiment, with half of the sampled addresses receiving one version of the questions and the other half receiving a different version of the questions. All modes of ACS data collection are Test Respondent Feedback Pilot ...................................................................................... Use of Administrative Data Test ............................................................................... Group Quarters Testing ............................................................................................ Content Testing ......................................................................................................... khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Content Testing Follow-up Interview ........................................................................ Internet Instrument Testing ....................................................................................... Respondent Help Testing ......................................................................................... Nonresponse Follow up Data Collection Testing ..................................................... 17:07 Feb 08, 2021 Jkt 253001 III. Data OMB Control Number: 0607–0936. Form Number(s): ACS–1, ACS–1(GQ), ACS–1(PR)SP, ACS CAPI(HU), and ACS RI(HU). Type of Review: Regular submission, Request for a Revision of a Currently Approved Collection. Affected Public: Individuals or households. Estimated Number of Respondents: Estimated number of respondents Self-Response Mail Messaging and Contact Strategies Testing ............................. VerDate Sep<11>2014 included in the test. Additionally, a follow-up reinterview may be conducted with all households that respond to measure response bias or response variance. Comparisons will be made between the treatments to assess data quality. Changes to the person-level content collection strategy will also be conducted as a split-panel experiment involving only the paper questionnaire; comparisons will be made between treatments to assess response and data quality. Internet Instrument Testing will assess modifications to the internet instrument conducted via split-sample experiments. Only the internet mode of self-response is included in the testing. Respondent Help Testing of modifications to respondent help may include telephone and internet modes. These tests focus on evaluating mechanisms to answer questions and provide help to respondents. Nonresponse Follow up Data Collection Testing will focus on inperson and telephone interviews conducted by Census Bureau field representatives (FRs). As part of their interaction with respondents, FRs also encourage response online. Respondents may also mail back a paper questionnaire they received during the self-response phase of the ACS. PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Test A–60,000. Test B–60,000. Test C–60,000. Test D–60,000. Test E–60,000. Test F–60,000. 100,000. 100,000. 500. Test A–70,000. Test B–70,000. Test A–40,000. Test B–40,000. Test A–60,000. Test B–60,000. Test C–60,000. Test D–60,000. Test E–60,000. Test F–60,000. 40,000. 100,000. E:\FR\FM\09FEN1.SGM 09FEN1 8759 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 25 / Tuesday, February 9, 2021 / Notices Estimated Time per Response: Test Estimated time per response (in minutes) Self-Response Mail Messaging and Contact Strategies Testing ............................. Respondent Feedback Pilot ...................................................................................... 40. 42 (40 minutes for the production ACS interview and 2 minutes for the optional follow-up questions). 40. 40 (including the facility interview). 40. 40. 40. 10. 40. Use of Administrative Data Test ............................................................................... Group Quarters Testing ............................................................................................ Content Testing ......................................................................................................... Content Testing Follow-up Interview ........................................................................ Internet Instrument Testing ....................................................................................... Respondent Help Testing ......................................................................................... Nonresponse Follow up Data Collection Testing ..................................................... Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: Estimated time per response (in minutes) Test Estimated number of respondents Self-Response Mail Messaging and Contact Strategies Testing ........... Respondent Help Testing ....................................................................... Nonresponse Follow up Data Collection Testing ................................... Test A–60,000 ................................ Test B–60,000 ................................ Test C–60,000 ............................... Test D–60,000 ............................... Test E–60,000 ................................ Test F–60,000 ................................ 100,000 .......................................... 100,000 .......................................... 500 ................................................. Test A–70,000 ................................ Test B–70,000 ................................ Test A–40,000 ................................ Test B–40,000 ................................ Test A–60,000 ................................ Test B–60,000 ................................ Test C–60,000 ............................... Test D–60,000 ............................... Test E–60,000 ................................ Test F–60,000 ................................ 40,000 ............................................ 100,000 .......................................... Total (over 3 years) * ....................................................................... 1,280,500 ....................................... ........................ 837,003. Annual Burden Hours ...................................................................... 426,834 .......................................... ........................ 279,001. Respondent Feedback Pilot ................................................................... Use of Administrative Data Test ............................................................. Group Quarters Testing .......................................................................... Content Testing ...................................................................................... Content Testing Follow-up Interview ...................................................... Internet Instrument Testing ..................................................................... 40 42 40 40 40 40 40 10 40 Total burden hours Test A–40,000. Test B–40,000. Test C–40,000. Test D–40,000. Test E–40,000. Test F–40,000. 70,000. 66,667. 334. Test A–46,667 Test B–46,667 Test A–26,667 Test B –26,667. Test A–40,000 Test B–40,000. Test C–40,000. Test D–40,000. Test E–40,000. Test F–40,000. 6,667. 66,667. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES * Note: This is the maximum burden requested for these tests. Every effort is taken to use existing production sample for testing when the tests do not involve content changes. Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0. (This is not the cost of respondents’ time, but the indirect costs respondents may incur for such things as purchases of specialized software or hardware needed to report, or expenditures for accounting or records maintenance services required specifically by the collection.) Respondent’s Obligation: Mandatory. Legal Authority: Title 13 U.S.C. Sections 141, 193, and 221. IV. Request for Comments We are soliciting public comments to permit the Department/Bureau to: (a) Evaluate whether the proposed information collection is necessary for the proper functions of the Department, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:07 Feb 08, 2021 Jkt 253001 including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the time and cost burden for this proposed collection, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) Evaluate ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) Minimize the reporting burden on those who are to respond, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of public record. We will include, or summarize, each comment in our request to OMB to approve this ICR. Before including your address, phone PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you may ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Sheleen Dumas, Department PRA Clearance Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Commerce Department. [FR Doc. 2021–02606 Filed 2–8–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–07–P E:\FR\FM\09FEN1.SGM 09FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 25 (Tuesday, February 9, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 8756-8759]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-02606]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Census Bureau


Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Review and Approval; Comment 
Request; American Community Survey Methods Panel Tests

AGENCY: Census Bureau, Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of information collection, request for comment.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Department of Commerce, in accordance with the Paperwork 
Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995, invites the general public and other 
Federal agencies to comment on proposed, and continuing information 
collections, which helps us assess the impact of our information 
collection requirements and minimize the public's reporting burden. The 
purpose of this notice is to allow for 60 days of public comment on the 
proposed revision of the American Community Survey Methods Panel Tests 
prior to the submission of the information collection request (ICR) to 
OMB for approval.

DATES: To ensure consideration, comments regarding this proposed 
information collection must be received on or before April 12, 2021.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments by 
email to [email protected]. Please reference American Community 
Survey Methods Panel Tests in the subject line of your comments. You 
may also submit comments, identified by Docket Number USBC-2021-0002, 
to the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. All 
comments received are part of the public record. No comments will be 
posted to http://www.regulations.gov for public viewing until after the 
comment period has closed. Comments will generally be posted without 
change. All Personally Identifiable Information (for example, name and 
address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information. You may submit 
attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe 
PDF file formats.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or 
specific questions related to collection activities should be directed 
to G. Brian Wilson, U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 
Office, 301-763-2819, [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Abstract

    The American Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoing monthly survey 
that collects detailed housing and socioeconomic data from about 3.5 
million addresses in the United States and about 36,000 addresses in 
Puerto Rico each year. The ACS also collects detailed socioeconomic 
data from about 195,000 residents living in group quarters (GQ) 
facilities in the United States and Puerto Rico. Resulting tabulations 
from this data collection are provided on a yearly basis. The ACS 
allows the Census Bureau to provide timely and relevant housing and 
socioeconomic statistics, even for low levels of geography.
    An ongoing data collection effort with an annual sample of this 
magnitude requires that the ACS continue research, testing, and 
evaluations aimed at improving data quality, reducing data collection 
costs, and improving the ACS questionnaire content and related data 
collection materials. The ACS Methods Panel is a research program 
designed to address and respond to survey issues and needs. As part of 
the Decennial Census Program, the ACS also provides an opportunity to 
research and test elements of survey data collection that relate to the 
decennial census. As such, the ACS Methods Panel can serve as a testbed 
for the decennial census. From 2021 to 2024, the ACS Methods Panel may 
test ACS and decennial census methods for reducing survey cost, 
addressing respondent burden, and improving survey response, data 
quality, and survey efficiencies. The ACS Methods Panel may also 
address other emerging needs of the programs.
    At this time, plans are in place to propose several tests related 
to self-response, group quarters, and nonresponse follow up data 
collection operations. Tests may also be conducted to explore the use 
of administrative records. Because the ACS Methods Panel is designed to 
address emerging issues, we may propose additional testing as needed. 
Any testing would focus on methods for reducing data collection costs, 
improving data quality, improving the respondent experience, revising 
content, or testing new questions that have a need to be included in 
the Decennial Census Program. The proposed tests are outlined below.
    Self-Response Mail Messaging and Contact Strategies Testing: In 
response to declining response rates and increasing costs, the Census 
Bureau plans to study methods to increase self-response, the least 
expensive mode of data collection. The Census Bureau currently sends up 
to five mailings to a sampled address to inform the occupants that 
their address has been selected to participate in the ACS and to 
encourage them to self-respond to the ACS. The proposed tests would 
evaluate changes to the mailings, such as using plain language to 
improve communication, changing the look and feel of the materials, 
updating messages to motivate response, and adding or removing 
materials included in the mailings. Changes to the contact method, the 
number of contacts, and the timing of the contacts may also be tested. 
Multiple tests may be conducted.
    Respondent Feedback Pilot Test: Currently, ACS participants who 
want to give feedback on their survey experience must call, email, or 
send letters directly to the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau is 
considering adding a method for participants to provide feedback at the 
end of the survey. Because collecting respondent feedback of this 
nature is new to the ACS, we conducted cognitive testing to inform 
recommendations on its wording

[[Page 8757]]

and display. Additionally, we wanted to learn about participants' 
perceptions about having this type of item on the ACS generally, 
including whether they understood its purpose. Cognitive testing 
resulted in recommended wording for the feedback question and indicated 
that respondents understood the purpose of the feedback question (Katz, 
forthcoming). The Census Bureau is now ready to pilot a feedback 
question to establish a way to process the comments and evaluate the 
type of comments received. Respondents will not be required to answer 
the feedback question.
    Testing the Use of Administrative Data: The Census Bureau has made 
significant progress exploring the use of administrative data in 
surveys and censuses, potentially as a substitute for questions asked 
of respondents. Administrative data refer to data collected by 
government agencies and other sources for the purposes of administering 
programs or providing services. The Census Bureau has evaluated the 
availability and suitability of several different data sources for use 
in the ACS to replace or supplement questions pertaining to telephone 
service, the year a residence was built, condominium status, income, 
residence one year ago, and self-employment income. We are currently 
exploring administrative data use to replace or supplement questions 
pertaining to property values, property taxes, and acreage. Similarly, 
we plan to evaluate the availability and suitability of using 
administrative records in lieu of enumeration for institutional GQs 
(U.S. Census Bureau, 2017).
    Administrative data may also be used to reduce burden of existing 
questions by allowing for modification of the questions. For example, 
the ACS asks respondents to provide their total income for the past 12 
months as well as income received from various sources (wages, 
interest, retirement income, etc.). By supplementing data collection on 
income with administrative records, we may be able to modify questions 
to only ask about the source of income rather than the amount. We are 
cognitively testing this change as well as changing the reference year 
from the past 12 months to the previous calendar year to align with 
administrative records sources. As a continuation of this research, the 
Census Bureau proposes a field test of revised content for income as 
well as other topics both for the housing unit questionnaire as well as 
the GQ questionnaire. Some questions may be modified while others would 
be removed. Multiple tests may be conducted.
    Group Quarters Testing: The ACS samples about 19,000 GQ facilities 
each year. A GQ is a place where people live or stay in a group living 
arrangement that is owned or managed by an entity or organization 
providing housing and/or services for the residents. There are two 
categories of GQs: Institutional and noninstitutional. Institutional 
GQs include places such as correctional facilities and nursing homes. 
Noninstitutional GQs include college housing, military barracks, and 
residential treatment centers. Most interviews conducted in GQs are 
interviewer-administered (94 percent of interviews in institutional GQs 
and 75 percent in noninstitutional GQs), but some GQ respondents self-
respond using a paper questionnaire. The Census Scientific Advisory 
Committee Working Group on Group Quarters in the ACS recommended that 
the Census Bureau consider making ``an internet version of the ACS 
available to noninstitutional GQ residents, especially in college 
dorms, military barracks, and group homes.'' Additional support was 
identified for this proposal in a workshop held in 2016 with the 
National Academies of Science Committee on National Statistics 
(National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016). The 
Census Bureau proposes a field test of an internet ACS self-response GQ 
form for residents in noninstitutional GQs. We would evaluate the 
quality of the data received from the internet instrument compared with 
traditional data collection methods for GQs (paper questionnaires and 
interviewer-administered) as well as assess operational issues with 
offering the internet option, including feedback from interviewers.
    Content Testing: Working through the Office of Management and 
Budget Interagency Committee for the ACS, the Census Bureau solicited 
proposals from other Federal agencies to change existing questions or 
add new questions to the ACS. These proposals included changes to the 
following questions: Household roster, educational attainment, health 
insurance, disability, means of transportation to work, income, weeks 
worked, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), condominium 
fees, and home heating fuel. Additionally, three new questions on solar 
panels, electric vehicles, and sewage disposal were proposed. The 
objective of content testing is to determine the impact of changing 
question wording and response categories, as well as redefining 
underlying constructs, on the quality of the data collected. The Census 
Bureau proposes evaluating changes to current questions by comparing 
the revised questions to the current ACS questions. For new questions, 
the Census Bureau proposes comparing the performance of two versions of 
any new questions and benchmark results with other well-known sources 
of such information. The questions would be tested using all modes of 
data collection. Response bias or variance may also be measured to 
evaluate the questions by conducting a follow up interview with 
respondents. Multiple tests may be conducted. Additional content 
testing may include a shift in the content collection strategy for the 
fifth person in the household on the paper questionnaire. In order to 
reduce respondent burden for large households who self-respond using 
the paper questionnaire, as well as potentially increase self-response 
by reducing the size of the paper questionnaire, one testing proposal 
includes no longer collecting detailed data for Person 5 on the paper 
questionnaire (i.e., the same items collected for Person 1 through 4) 
and only collecting basic demographic information (as is currently done 
for Person 6 through Person 12). Detailed person information for 
households with five or more people would be collected through a 
telephone follow-up, similar to what is currently done for households 
with six or more people.
    Internet Instrument Testing: In 2013, the ACS incorporated the use 
of an internet instrument to collect survey responses. The design of 
the instrument reflected the research and standards of survey data 
collection at that time. With a growing population using the internet 
to respond to the ACS, as well as the increased use of smartphones and 
other electronic devices with smaller screens, an evaluation and 
redesign of the internet instrument is needed. Design elements will be 
developed and tested based on input from experts in survey methodology 
and web survey design. Testing may include revisions focused on 
improving login procedures and screen navigation, improving the user 
interface design, as well as methods to decrease respondent burden. 
Multiple tests may be conducted.
    Respondent Help Testing: If respondents need help completing the 
ACS or have questions, they can call the Telephone Questionnaire 
Assistance (TQA) toll-free hotline. When respondents call the TQA, they 
enter an Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) system, which provides 
some basic information on the ACS and recorded answers to frequently 
asked questions. Callers can also request to speak directly

[[Page 8758]]

to a Census Bureau employee. The Census Bureau is proposing potential 
testing of changes to the IVR system to improve content and 
efficiencies in the system. Other methods of offering help to 
respondents may also be explored and tested, such as the use of 
chatbots and live online chat assistance.
    Nonresponse Follow up Data Collection Testing: The Census Bureau is 
proposing to evaluate the use of adaptive survey design techniques for 
the ACS nonresponse follow up operation (typically referred to as the 
ACS CAPI operation). Models and rules would be developed to predict 
case outcomes and determine interventions for a case, such as assigning 
a case to a refusal specialist. The models and rules would also 
prioritize cases based on the likelihood of completing an interview. 
The adaptive approach would be evaluated by comparing results to 
traditional methods of case assignment and progress.

II. Method of Collection

    The American Community Survey is collected via the following modes: 
internet, paper questionnaire, telephone interview, and in-person 
interview (CAPI). The Census Bureau sends up to five mailings to 
eligible housings units to encourage self-response. Respondents may 
receive help by utilizing an IVR system (though response cannot be 
provided by IVR). Respondents can also call our TQA for help or to 
respond. Interviewers may visit a housing unit or sampled GQ facility 
to conduct an interview in person or may conduct the interview by 
phone. Administrative records are also used to replace, supplement, and 
support data collection. ACS Methods Panel Tests use all of these modes 
of data collection or a subset of the modes, depending on the purpose 
of the test. Specific modes for the tests are noted below.
    Self-Response Mail Messaging and Contact Strategies Testing 
evaluate mailout materials that solicit self-response using internet, 
paper questionnaire, and telephone responses. Tests will include 
housing units only.
    The Respondent Feedback Pilot would be conducted with self-response 
modes of data collection. The pilot would include housing units only.
    The Use of Administrative Data Test would test replacing or 
substituting all or parts of the ACS with administrative data. 
Respondents could be presented with a new version of the ACS with some 
questions not asked and others modified, as compared to production ACS. 
Evidence suggests that the type of response mode that respondents 
choose (internet, paper questionnaire, or interviewer-administered) is 
correlated with different socioeconomic characteristics. Therefore, 
this test will include all modes of data collection. This test would 
include respondents in both HUs and GQs.
    Group Quarters Testing would test the addition of an internet self-
response GQ form for residents in noninstitutional GQs. A sample of GQ 
respondents will be given the option of completing the survey via self-
response using an internet instrument. Other residents will continue to 
be interviewed by paper questionnaire or interviewer-administered 
modes.
    Content Testing for item-level changes will be conducted as a 
split-sample experiment, with half of the sampled addresses receiving 
one version of the questions and the other half receiving a different 
version of the questions. All modes of ACS data collection are included 
in the test. Additionally, a follow-up reinterview may be conducted 
with all households that respond to measure response bias or response 
variance. Comparisons will be made between the treatments to assess 
data quality. Changes to the person-level content collection strategy 
will also be conducted as a split-panel experiment involving only the 
paper questionnaire; comparisons will be made between treatments to 
assess response and data quality.
    Internet Instrument Testing will assess modifications to the 
internet instrument conducted via split-sample experiments. Only the 
internet mode of self-response is included in the testing.
    Respondent Help Testing of modifications to respondent help may 
include telephone and internet modes. These tests focus on evaluating 
mechanisms to answer questions and provide help to respondents.
    Nonresponse Follow up Data Collection Testing will focus on in-
person and telephone interviews conducted by Census Bureau field 
representatives (FRs). As part of their interaction with respondents, 
FRs also encourage response online. Respondents may also mail back a 
paper questionnaire they received during the self-response phase of the 
ACS.

III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0607-0936.
    Form Number(s): ACS-1, ACS-1(GQ), ACS-1(PR)SP, ACS CAPI(HU), and 
ACS RI(HU).
    Type of Review: Regular submission, Request for a Revision of a 
Currently Approved Collection.
    Affected Public: Individuals or households.
    Estimated Number of Respondents:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 Estimated number of
                   Test                              respondents
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Self-Response Mail Messaging and Contact    Test A-60,000.
 Strategies Testing.
                                            Test B-60,000.
                                            Test C-60,000.
                                            Test D-60,000.
                                            Test E-60,000.
                                            Test F-60,000.
Respondent Feedback Pilot.................  100,000.
Use of Administrative Data Test...........  100,000.
Group Quarters Testing....................  500.
Content Testing...........................  Test A-70,000.
                                            Test B-70,000.
Content Testing Follow-up Interview.......  Test A-40,000.
                                            Test B-40,000.
Internet Instrument Testing...............  Test A-60,000.
                                            Test B-60,000.
                                            Test C-60,000.
                                            Test D-60,000.
                                            Test E-60,000.
                                            Test F-60,000.
Respondent Help Testing...................  40,000.
Nonresponse Follow up Data Collection       100,000.
 Testing.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 8759]]

    Estimated Time per Response:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Estimated time per response
                   Test                             (in minutes)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Self-Response Mail Messaging and Contact    40.
 Strategies Testing.
Respondent Feedback Pilot.................  42 (40 minutes for the
                                             production ACS interview
                                             and 2 minutes for the
                                             optional follow-up
                                             questions).
Use of Administrative Data Test...........  40.
Group Quarters Testing....................  40 (including the facility
                                             interview).
Content Testing...........................  40.
Content Testing Follow-up Interview.......  40.
Internet Instrument Testing...............  40.
Respondent Help Testing...................  10.
Nonresponse Follow up Data Collection       40.
 Testing.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                         Estimated
                                             Estimated number  of        time per
                  Test                            respondents          response  (in      Total burden hours
                                                                         minutes)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Self-Response Mail Messaging and Contact  Test A-60,000.............              40  Test A-40,000.
 Strategies Testing.                      Test B-60,000.............                  Test B-40,000.
                                          Test C-60,000.............                  Test C-40,000.
                                          Test D-60,000.............                  Test D-40,000.
                                          Test E-60,000.............                  Test E-40,000.
                                          Test F-60,000.............                  Test F-40,000.
Respondent Feedback Pilot...............  100,000...................              42  70,000.
Use of Administrative Data Test.........  100,000...................              40  66,667.
Group Quarters Testing..................  500.......................              40  334.
Content Testing.........................  Test A-70,000.............              40  Test A-46,667
                                          Test B-70,000.............  ..............  Test B-46,667
Content Testing Follow-up Interview.....  Test A-40,000.............              40  Test A-26,667
                                          Test B-40,000.............  ..............  Test B -26,667.
Internet Instrument Testing.............  Test A-60,000.............              40  Test A-40,000
                                          Test B-60,000.............                  Test B-40,000.
                                          Test C-60,000.............                  Test C-40,000.
                                          Test D-60,000.............                  Test D-40,000.
                                          Test E-60,000.............                  Test E-40,000.
                                          Test F-60,000.............                  Test F-40,000.
Respondent Help Testing.................  40,000....................              10  6,667.
Nonresponse Follow up Data Collection     100,000...................              40  66,667.
 Testing.
                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total (over 3 years) *..............  1,280,500.................  ..............  837,003.
                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Annual Burden Hours.................  426,834...................  ..............  279,001.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Note: This is the maximum burden requested for these tests. Every effort is taken to use existing production
  sample for testing when the tests do not involve content changes.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0. (This is not the cost of 
respondents' time, but the indirect costs respondents may incur for 
such things as purchases of specialized software or hardware needed to 
report, or expenditures for accounting or records maintenance services 
required specifically by the collection.)
    Respondent's Obligation: Mandatory.
    Legal Authority: Title 13 U.S.C. Sections 141, 193, and 221.

IV. Request for Comments

    We are soliciting public comments to permit the Department/Bureau 
to: (a) Evaluate whether the proposed information collection is 
necessary for the proper functions of the Department, including whether 
the information will have practical utility; (b) Evaluate the accuracy 
of our estimate of the time and cost burden for this proposed 
collection, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions 
used; (c) Evaluate ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of 
the information to be collected; and (d) Minimize the reporting burden 
on those who are to respond, including the use of automated collection 
techniques or other forms of information technology.
    Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of 
public record. We will include, or summarize, each comment in our 
request to OMB to approve this ICR. Before including your address, 
phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information 
in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment--
including your personal identifying information--may be made publicly 
available at any time. While you may ask us in your comment to withhold 
your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Sheleen Dumas,
Department PRA Clearance Officer, Office of the Chief Information 
Officer, Commerce Department.
[FR Doc. 2021-02606 Filed 2-8-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-07-P