Robert Groves, Census Bureau Director, resigned August 11, 2012 to become Provost at Georgetown University. We wish Director Groves well! Tom Mesenbourg, the new acting Director, writes that “The Times, They Are a-Changin’”. I really enjoyed Director Groves’ openness and tell-it-like-it-is communication style — whether it was explaining why some census surveys are mandatory or ripping into GOP members of the US House Appropriations Committee for attempting to eliminate the ACS. Let’s hope that Acting Director Mesenbourg will continue to communicate openly with the public in explaining the inner workings of the US Census Bureau and it’s important work. That is all.
We face a challenging future. Resources will be constrained and possibly reduced. Getting businesses, institutions, and households to participate in surveys and censuses will become more difficult. Policy makers, public and private decision makers, and the general public demands for relevant, timely information will grow, and users will expect information to be easily accessible and to be available for small geographic areas and small population groups.
To respond to this future we must change. We need to change the way we collect, compile, and produce statistics. We must offer multiple response options that facilitate reporting and reduce reporting burden. We must be more attentive and responsive to data providers concerns. And finally we must find ways to integrate Census Bureau data sets with public and private data sets to develop new low cost products. I am excited about the initiatives we currently have underway that promise to transform our methods, processes, and products and you will hear more about them in future blogs.
I have been at the Census Bureau for almost 40 years, but I am more convinced than ever that we need to continue to innovate. Our employees have demonstrated that they can be engines of innovation and over the past several years, they have submitted hundreds of great ideas that save money and improve products and processes. We also need to be attuned to the concerns of our data providers. In January 2013, we will roll out an Internet reporting option for the American Community Survey that will make reporting easier for sampled households.
We also need to make our statistics more accessible, both for every day users and those who are just discovering them. On July 26, we released our first-ever Application Programming Interface (API), allowing developers to create apps using 2010 Census and American Community Survey information. We are already seeing developers create some great apps from the API.
During the first week of August, we followed up the release of the API with our first-ever mobile app, America’s Economy. This app provides users with instant access to 16 key economic indicators from not only the Census Bureau but also the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The economist in me finds this app a cool new tool, and I encourage all of you to check it out and tell us how we can make it even more useful.