When I used the Edit/Find in Page Command, using online, and searched repeatedly for this word. I found the following:
QUESTION: In light of all these attempts to raise the response rate, I'm wondering why the agency has downplayed the ability of recipients of the short form to answer their questionnaires online?
MR. PREWITT: Did you say why we haven't? Downplayed it, I'm sorry, I didn't quite hear you.
Planning a census does take about 10 or 12 years. We already have major committees at work planning the 2010 census. This census started to get planned in 1990. The operations are actually very big and complicated. And the Internet, of course, in 1989 was not a prominent part of American society. And we had to put our operations out there. As we got closer to this census, and realized that the Internet was an opportunity that we should be using, we made it available. That is, we decided to design some software, make it available for people to do the short form. We then asked ourselves exactly the question you're now asking, to what extent should we publicize it and promote it?
The decision that we made is that because the Internet is, at this stage, very inequitably distributed across the American society, and since our focus was on especially getting people we have a hard time reaching, we would spend all of our advertising dollars trying to reach the population groups which we had reason to believe would be undercounted. Those we do not believe are going to be the Internet responders. We think that the Internet responders, whether that number is 60,000 or 6 million, are people from whom we would have gotten a paper form. Therefore, we're going to get their answers, we ought to spend our time and effort trying to get the answers from the people we might not get an answer from. So we made that simple decision. We're a reasonably cautious organization. We do not like to put new, big operations in place where we haven't had a chance to test them. And at that stage, this is in 1998-99 when this conversation came up, we had not yet had the opportunity to test Internet responses in a census environment. So we thought the most prudent thing to do was to allow it, to test it, to see how well it worked, and then to decide on the basis of that how major a push to put by 2010, and I'm sure we'll put a major push on it in 2010.
So it's a long, convoluted answer, and I apologize for that. But it's not because we didn't want them, it's because we wanted to make sure they would work well. We had to worry about encryption, of course. We have now a heightened conversation about privacy in the country. And we wanted to make certain that we would have nobody who would say, oh my goodness, somebody else got my answer, because I filed by Internet. So we had to be extremely cautious. And that's why we downplayed it slightly for 2000.