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Partnership Specialists

The Partnership Program is a vital component of the Bureau’s Outreach activities for Census 2000. As a part of the overall Marketing Program, Partnerships will be combined with the paid advertising campaign, the census questionnaire direct mail program, conventional media relations, and other promotional programs such as "Census in the Schools" to increase awareness and to inspire participation in the census.

The Partnership program is a multidimensional campaign with national, regional and local components. The Partnership Coordinators and Specialists are given the responsibility of integrating a national plan to the regional implementation strategy while balancing a multitude of interests.  

Moreover, Partnership Coordinators and Specialists are specifically directed to "improve mail response rates" and should "reflect the Bureau’s belief that the foundation for broad-based participation in the census must be built at the community level."33 The coordinators and specialists can play a role in ensuring an accurate and fair census – and they directly address the differential undercount.  

By ensuring access for the enumerators to the hard-to-enumerate communities, by assuaging doubts regarding confidentiality, and by ensuring awareness of the census and the importance of the census to hard-to-enumerate communities, the Partnership program can directly confront the differential undercount and the barriers to counting every person living in America.

Therefore, the Partnership Program should not be viewed as a mere public relations campaign. Coordinators and specialists have a real role and real responsibilities in Census 2000. The persons who are hired and who will be hired must represent the diverse communities in the U.S., have the requisite skills and receive the necessary training for the job.

1990 Outreach Efforts: In 1990 the partnership efforts centered around three programs: the National Services Program (NSP), the Census Awareness and Products Program (CAPP), and the Census Education Project Promotion (CEPP).

NSP served as the Bureau’s point of contact with national nonprofit organizations representing traditionally undercounted populations. The goals of this program were to increase awareness and to gain the participation of these organizations and their regional and local affiliates. Bureau staff contacted over 300 national organizations, provided informational briefings and negotiated for their support in promotion and recruitment efforts.
CAPP was a community-based outreach program designed to reach service providers with minority clients and community and religious leaders, to obtain their support for and endorsement of participation in the census.
CEPP was an effort to educate children about the census. Information kits were mailed to every elementary and secondary school principal, as well as the school district superintendent for each county.34 The kits contained lessons, work  sheets and suggested activities and background information for teachers.35
 More than 373,000 kits were sent out in two waves. Of these kits, 57,000 were Spanish supplements and were distributed based on the percentage of Hispanic population.36
The Bureau also coordinated an effort with State Data Centers (SDC) and State Coordinating Committees. The active participants numbered 201 for state agencies and universities and over 1,200 regional and local organizations. SDCs or other state agencies assumed responsibility for promotion and outreach. However, these activities were normally authorized and organized by Governors’ offices. Promotional committees decided how to approach the campaign from the state’s interest.  The Bureau provided camera-ready copies of promotional materials for the committees to customize and also sent a variety of posters and leaflets.

2000 Outreach Efforts: For Census 2000, the Partnership Program has been integrated into the Census 2000 marketing program. The Bureau intends to provide partners with a greater range of participation options.

The Bureau is also striving for increased integration among the national, regional and local levels for Census 2000. National partners who may have regional and local outlets have been identified and targeted for participation. The national program has grown from 300 national partners in 1990, to over 400 thus far for Census 2000. Regional partnership efforts are also focusing on data collection, recruitment and promotion to integrate the partnership, marketing and field elements of the census.

In order to accomplish this ambitious program, the Bureau identified three categories of needed skills for specialists: governmental, community and media.

Program Development: The Partnerships program has four phases of development: planning, education, motivation and follow-up.37

Planning: Planning began in September 1996 and continued through July 1998. During the initial hiring stage, 12 governmental specialists were hired and trained in 1997 in preparation for the dress rehearsals in Sacramento, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. The governmental specialists were responsible for developing the Partnership Program Implementation Plans specific to each site.

Education: The education phase began in August 1998 and should continue through January 2000. The objectives for this stage are to form relationships at the regional and local levels and to increase the stakeholder awareness and willingness to coordinate with the Census Day effort. The final wave of specialists, support staff and team leaders will be hired and trained in FY 99. The specialists will continue to implement the strategies identified earlier, such as the development of regional and local implementation plans. Also, during this time, partnership specialists are directed to obtain partnership agreements with regional and local partners, including governments and other organizations, and to develop materials and schedules for outreach and promotion. Community and media specialists were also directed to start development of outreach and media strategies.
Motivation: Launching directly from the education phase of the program, the motivation phase will begin in February 2000 and continue through April 2000. The purpose of this phase is to identify, educate, and form outreach partnerships with regional and local partners. The Bureau plans to integrate the input of the specialists to the paid advertising, the community outreach, and the field non-response follow-up to the information and efforts by the partnership specialists.

In particular, all of these activities must happen in the hard-to-enumerate communities and neighborhoods. The specialists have a unique opportunity in Census 2000 to develop a relationship between the census operations and the hard-to-enumerate community’s leaders, gatekeepers, and other trusted representatives. During this phase, the Bureau intends to provide Partnership Specialists with a user-friendly electronic database, the Planning Database, to target hard-to-enumerate (HTE) areas. The Planning Database will provide an initial guide for specialists, to be supplemented by additional field outreach to capitalize on the unique perspectives of the local partners.

Identifying HTE neighborhoods and developing an appropriate enumeration strategy is a vital function of the partnership coordinators and specialists. Identification, education and outreach of trusted partners in HTE neighborhoods must take place in order to improve non-response follow-up (NRFU) in those neighborhoods.

As the National Academy of Sciences’ Panel to Evaluate Alternative Census Methods concluded in its final report: "[D]eveloping local ties that work – that is, that help to reduce the differential undercount by creating a participatory spirit…is not an overnight operation."40 Efforts (identification, communication and outreach) directed at HTE communities where the differential undercount occurs should be given high priority by the Bureau, and should be at the forefront of partnership efforts.

The Academy panel noted that "implementing an in-depth, localized, network approach will demand an enormous change in the culture of the Bureau, for which, for perfectly understandable reasons, centralized control and standardized  methods have been paramount."41 Developing tailored local strategies to ensure effective partnership is paramount to the success of the census.

Follow-Up: The Bureau’s coordinators and specialists will work to identify and reach out to the communities and neighborhoods throughout the preparation and implementation of Census 2000. However, as the census moves from mail response to non-response follow-up, the role of the partnership coordinators and specialists changes. The follow-up phase takes place between May and August 2000, and focuses on supporting NRFU by raising community awareness and continuing to encourage people to be counted.
The Partnership Program will conclude by August 2000, when field activities are completed. At that time, regions will conduct debriefing sessions as part of the evaluation report. Partners will be thanked in a number of different ways, including ceremonies and activities that highlight their participation.

Recruitment, Hiring and Placement: Initially the Bureau planned to hire 300 partnership specialists. The number has been increased to 620, providing at least one specialist to each local census office (LCO). Currently, 12 regional partnership coordinators and over 300 partnership specialists have been hired. The Partnership Program organization includes the following positions and responsibilities:

Partnership Coordinators: The partnership coordinators will develop and give direction to the team leaders for planning development and implementation of the partnership strategy. A critical function of the coordinator is the coordination of local activities with national efforts and the update of Regional Census Centers (RCC) and LCO staff of the status of Census 2000 partnerships. In addition to the coordinators, all of the partnership specialists will work with team leaders from each region to assist in the coordination and implementation of regional plans.
Government Specialists: The government specialists develop partnerships with state, local and tribal governments by negotiating agreements and assisting in the development of the TIGER (Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing) Improvement, Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA), and the Be-Counted programs. They are responsible for coordinating the Complete Count Committees (CCCs).  
Additionally, maintaining communication with state/local/tribal governments as well as regional corporations and businesses and civic groups about recruitment, census activities and the overall partnership strategy is vital in gaining the support of these partners.

Community Specialists: The community specialists are instructed to develop relationships with local/regional affiliates and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local businesses and community groups. Their priorities include identifying strategic locations for Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs) and Be-Counted sites, targeting certain areas that will require additional outreach and promotion efforts, and working with Complete Count Committees (CCCs) to encourage the community to cooperate with enumerators during NRFU.
Media Specialists: The media specialists, in addition to supporting the national paid advertising campaign and the other marketing initiatives, are responsible for responding to local media inquiries and for writing locally tailored articles, press releases, radio scripts and speeches. Specialists will arrange and conduct press conferences, press briefings and editorial board meetings. A critical component of the media specialist’s job is to coordinate local media partnership activities with other media specialists, RCCs, LCOs and headquarters staff to mount an integrated campaign to enhance public participation in Census 2000.
Recruitment priorities should continue to revolve around selecting qualified indigenous applicants including those applicants with specific language skills for linguistically isolated communities.

The placement of the partnership specialists is vital. The Board has not yet received a briefing on the specifics of the partnership plan. We intend to examine the process by which specialists with particular skills are assigned to particular LCOs.

Training: The Bureau’s goal is to provide all specialists with broad knowledge of the census operations as well as enhancing specific skills geared toward communication and negotiation.

Training takes place in five stages:42

Stage one: two weeks of on the job training in the RCC.
Stage two: four and half days of classroom training on partnership building and preparation for implementation.
Stage three: five days of media training, three days of communication skills and inter-cultural communications workshops and three days of negotiation skills training.
Stage four: one and half day LUCA workshop.
Stage five: partnership development skills.
In addition, Partnership Coordinators and Team Leaders receive leadership training involving four days of classroom training, two days of follow up, and additional sessions every six months in selected RCCs.43

Coordination and Communication: Communication and coordination play a key role in the success of the partnership endeavor.

To enhance coordination and communication, partnership specialists will be provided, as needed, with pagers, cellular phones and office space at LCOs.

The Partnership branch of the Census 2000 Publicity Office (C2PO)44 and the Partnership and Data Services Program Branch (PDSP) of the Field Division45 have established a number of mechanisms to ensure that effective techniques are shared between regions, including a monthly bulletin – Partnership Specialist Update. This bulletin highlights the best practices of various regions, identifies fact sheets and promotional materials as they become available, and provides updates on national and regional efforts.

Several regions have "best practice" kits in which they describe techniques that tend to be successful in the field. In addition, an electronic Partnership Exchange bulletin was established by PDSP to highlight these techniques.

Finally, the Bureau will provide pre-prepared articles for specialists, designed for distribution to local newspapers and newsletters as educational or informational tools. The articles reinforce consistent themes from the national advertising and promotional efforts, while allowing partnership specialists to tailor messages to the local community.

In those areas with many Complete Count Committees, the Bureau should dedicate enough staff to maintain a manageable workload. The effectiveness of the relationship of the Partnership Specialist to local governments depends upon an evenly-spread workload.

During the dress rehearsals, Menominee and Sacramento had only one CPS and one governmental unit each, while Columbia had one CPS for more than 50 jurisdictions. In 2000, some specialists will be responsible for only one jurisdiction while others will be responsible for many. Because the specialist acts as the primary liaison between the CCC and the Bureau, suggestions from several CCCs to the Bureau should not be bottlenecked through a single specialist.

The effectiveness of the relationship between the Bureau and the CCCs may be compromised if the partnership specialist is stretched between too many demands for localization of the census by CCC members.