Content Development Process
American Community Survey (ACS) content is designed to meet the needs of federal government
agencies and is a rich source of local area information useful to state and local governments, uni-
versities, and private businesses. The U.S. Census Bureau coordinates the content development
and determination process for the ACS with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) through
an interagency committee comprised of more than 30 federal agencies. All requests for content
changes are managed by the ACS Content Council, which provides the Census Bureau with guide-
lines for pretesting, field testing, and implementing new content and changes to existing ACS con-
tent. This chapter provides greater detail on the history of content development for the ACS, cur-
rent survey content, and the content determination process and policy.
5.2 HISTORY OF CONTENT DEVELOPMENT
The ACS is part of the 2010 Decennial Census Program and is an alternative method for collecting
the long-form sample data collected in the last five censuses. The long-form sample historically
collected detailed population and housing characteristics once a decade through questions asked
of a sample of the population.1 Beginning in 2005, the ACS collects this detailed information on
an ongoing basis, thereby providing more accurate and timely data than was possible previously.
Starting in 2010, the decennial census will include only a short form that collects basic informa-
tion for a total count of the nation’s population.2
Historically, the content of the long form was constrained by including only the questions for
• There was a current federal law calling for the use of decennial census data for a particular fed-
eral program (mandatory).
• A federal law (or implementing regulation) clearly required the use of specific data, and the
decennial census was the historical or only source; or the data are needed for case law require-
ments imposed by the U.S. federal court system (required).
• The data