Supporting a Robust and Scalable Online Collection Solution for the 2020 Census

The Challenge

Congress mandated to the United States Census Bureau that the cost of the 2020 Census had to be $5 billion less than the 2010 Census. To accomplish this goal, the Bureau recognized the need to utilze new technologies and modern processes to achieve the efficiencies required for the cost savings.

One of the key innovations for the 2020 Census will be the use of the Web as the preferred means of collecting data rather than using paper forms. This means that a robust and scalable solution, to support hundreds of millions of respondents, had to be designed, procured, and implemented in a relatively short amount of time. A significant challenge in the solution was to enable respondents to ask questions to a live agent while they are online filling out their Census form.

The Vision

The mission of the Census is to “count everyone once, only once and in the right place.”  Faced with meeting Congress’ mandate to “radically change the way its counts the population,”  Census is implementing a modern technical solution to enable the largest possible on-line response while reducing the number of households using paper forms or requiring in-person follow-up. 

The Noblis Qualifier

Noblis’ conflict-free posture and enterprise scale technical expertise enabled us to provide objective advice and independent analysis, and to recommend solutions that focused solely on achieving the Bureau’s mission. Noblis took an integrated approach and assembled a team of cross-functional experts to identify issues and technical opportunities based on all aspects of the 2020 program. This approach resulted in a thorough understanding of current and future challenges and risks and allowed Noblis to provide real-time decision making advice to the Bureau’s executives and stakeholders.

The Solution

The Census Questionnaire Assistance (CQA) program is an integral part of the respondent support structure of the 2020 Census. CQA enables respondents to use their phone, and other communications channels, to asks questions while they are online filling out their Census form. Noblis has served as a trusted advisor and an integral member of the Bureau’s CQA team from the initial development of the CQA requirements, through the evaluation of potential solutions, and into the establishment and implementation of the CQA Government Program Management Office (GPMO).

The complexity of the 2020 Census and CQA program requires a knowledgable and experienced partner that can work with the Bureau through the life of the program and rapidly adjust to changing requirements and fiscal constraints. In response, Noblis’ cross-functional team has created mission impact through our close engagement with the Bureau technical and management staff, internal and external stakeholders, and with other contractors. Working shoulder to shoulder with our customer, Noblis helped translate a thorough understanding of the program requirements into a solid foundation for program execution and reporting to oversight groups.

Throughout the life of the CQA program, Noblis has provided program advice, as well as in-depth technical and financial analyses, to help the Bureau achieve its 2020 Census goals. By effectively managing all of the program requirements while meeting every new challenge, Noblis demonstrated how a focused and multi-skilled team could achieve excellent results in a very dynamic and challenging mission environment.  

The Future

Noblis uses cross-discipline teams to support the full life-cycle of a program, from industry market research, to concept and requirement development, through source selection, to program management.  Our approach, successfully used across the federal civilian and DOD sectors, can be applied to the government’s modernization efforts at the project level or at an enterprise scale.