Census Data Accuracy

The 2020 decennial census experienced multiple complex problems that impacted census operations and, ultimately, appear to have impacted the quality of census data. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Census Bureau operations and timeline, displacement or limited access to certain populations, cancellation of quality control tests, reports of inadequate staffing, first-time use of online and phone response options, and controversial executive policy decisions resulting in litigation all disrupted a process that is typically planned and tested down to the smallest detail.

Following 2020, census experts will need to conduct a data quality assessment to determine how flawed the final census data is and where it is flawed, law and policy experts will need to determine possible options for remedial action, and the field will need to learn from this experience to avoid (or at least better plan for) such problems in the future.

Goal: Assess the impact of multiple complex problems on the accuracy of the 2020 decennial census, support corrective action as needed, and recommend policy improvements for future censuses.


  • Assess the impact of multiple complex problems on 2020 decennial census data quality, including the extent of any inaccuracies overall and with respect to specific subpopulations.
  • Support corrective action to remedy census data integrity and alternative options if census data are too flawed for certain uses.
  • Recommend policy improvements for future censuses gleaned from assessment of the 2020 census.
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