Groves names statistician to new post aimed at improving quality, reducing costs of Census

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hoping to stem costs and public apathy, Census Bureau director Robert Groves on Monday named a prominent statistician to a new high-level post charged with improving the quality of census data.

Roderick Little, a University of Michigan biostatistician, will become associate director for statistical methodology and standards at the Census Bureau beginning in September.

Little will be tasked with devising ways to stem years of declining public participation in government surveys, such as through use of Internet questionnaires, which is not currently available for the 2010 census. He also will seek to reduce costs and eliminate redundancy in census questions, possibly by making greater use of administrative records for basic data such as address, birth date and phone numbers.

Groves said collecting census data in recent years has been unduly ballooning in costs, while declining public participation also had some effects in reducing accuracy. The cost of the 2010 census is estimated to total roughly $15 billion, including $133 million for its advertising campaign.

"Rod Little is one of the world's best statisticians and survey methodologists," Groves said. "I am thrilled that he is willing to devote his substantial energy and talent to advancing the role of science in the Census Bureau."