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US Census Bureau

Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Survey (CBAMS)

The nation’s latest demographic shifts point to the undoubtable: America is becoming increasingly diverse. But how to we adjust our strategies to reach every population?

Census response rates are essential for communities to get their share of $400 billion of annual federal funding. With an investment of this magnitude, assessing differences in attitudes and mindsets toward the Census, especially among populations that are historically hard to count, is essential for developing strategies that will promote participation in the Census among all American households and improve the accuracy and representativeness of data.

To ensure representation of hard to reach population segments identified by the Census Bureau, ICF developed a sample design and survey strategy which included a mixed-mode methodology with multilingual interviews. We called on mobile phones and land lines, and we knocked on doors. We designed and managed the data collection methodology, developed the questionnaires, and prepared materials for The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Internal Review Board (IRB). Our data analysis included exploratory review, attitudinal segmentation, and factor and key driver analysis. The result of the survey was the identification of distinct “attitudinal segments,” which helped the Census Bureau to better understand barriers and motivators to Census participation within hard to count populations.

In our follow-on survey (CBAMS II), we tracked changes in these attitudinal segments in order to inform necessary shifts in future Census Bureau outreach strategies and communications campaigns.