Census starts planning ahead for 2002 economic survey

Census starts planning ahead for 2002 economic survey

BY PATRICIA DAUKANTAS | GCN STAFF

With Census 2000 under its belt, the Census Bureau is getting ready for the next economic census in December 2002, chief information officer Richard W. Swartz said.

Richard W. Swartz
Richard W. Swartz
The economic census, conducted once every five years, will query 5 million U.S. businesses about their activities during calendar 2002. In terms of automation, Census 2000 was one of the most successful surveys ever conducted, Swartz said.

The decennial head count used more than 10,000 computers at four Census data capture centers, 12 regional offices and 520 local offices [GCN, Feb. 7, 2000, Page 1].

Over a two-year span, Census 2000 employed 950,000 workers, most of them temporary, and at its peak cost $22 million per day, Swartz said.

The bureau recently began an ongoing demographic study called the American Community Survey, which Census officials hope will replace the so-called long form mailed to one-sixth of U.S. households during Census 2000. The bureau will contact 3 million households per year through the community survey, Swartz said.

Reflecting public interest generated by the decennial count, the bureau's Web site, at www.census.gov, has been drawing 2 million to 3 million hits per day, Swartz said.

Common platform for all

More than 1,500 of the bureau's 5,000 permanent employees use statistical software from SAS Institute Inc. of Cary, N.C., the company that sponsored the meeting at which Swartz spoke.

The SAS platform serves as the unifying language for Census statisticians, programmers and support staff, he said.

Census workers used to have holy wars over their favorite programming languages, Swartz said, but SAS 'has just become a way of doing business at the bureau.'

Calculating foreign trade balances, once a cumbersome chore in the days of mainframe systems and Cobol, now can be done in minutes on PCs running SAS software, Swartz said.
The SAS environment has remained a constant as hardware and software platforms have been upgraded over the years, he said.

The bureau is in the second year of its second consecutive five-year, unlimited-use SAS software license [GCN, Sept. 11, 2000, Page 42].

A central support group serves as the single point of contact between the bureau and SAS, Swartz said. The bureau offers its employees 20 to 25 SAS-related training courses per quarter.

Census' first unlimited-use agreement with SAS in 1991 changed the way the bureau did business, Swartz said. Census now models site licenses with other enterprise software providers after the SAS deal.

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