NEWS9 August 2022

US Senate calls for transparency on Census Bureau panel

News North America Public Sector

US – The US Census Bureau has been instructed to provide the US Senate Appropriations Committee with a report detailing the methodology and costs of its Ask US Panel.

US Congress

The Ask US Panel is a probability-based nationwide representative survey panel for tracking public opinion that has been trialled since earlier this year

Eligible households and individuals who join the panel answer surveys about food and nutrition, transportation, employment, education and other subjects, as well as receiving monetary compensation for the surveys they complete.

However, the panel has proved controversial in some quarters, with the Insights Association having opposed it on the grounds of it being more expensive than buying services from existing online research panel providers.

Howard Fienberg, senior vice-president advocacy at the Insights Association, said: “This project could waste millions of taxpayer dollars in a vain attempt to compete with existing online research panel providers, instead of simply purchasing those services on the open market for a fraction of the cost.”

The senate committee has now asked the US Census Bureau for greater transparency of the Ask US Panel’s operation and costs.

The committee’s report on Fiscal Year 2023 funding legislation said: “The committee is concerned about the lack of transparency related to the Census Bureau’s plans for implementation of the Ask US Panel Survey, particularly given the lack of congressional authorisation and the expanding scope of the project since it was initially announced.

“The Bureau is directed to provide a report to the committee, no later than 60 days following enactment of this act, on the Ask US Panel Survey’s methodology, data collection processes, implementation, incurred and projected costs, and procurement strategy.”

The fiscal year funding for 2023 is unlikely to be ratified until after November’s midterm elections.