Evolve for Government: US Census Bureau: Panel Discussion
The Census Bureau conducted a massive digital Census collection in 2020. As the largest peacetime operation on U.S. soil, their modernization journey started long before the 2020 collection and focused on significant improvements to self-response rates and customer experiences.
Join us to see how the Census Bureau leverages digital solutions and practices that expand outreach and awareness campaigns. Hear our panelists discuss how they manage modern, mission-critical solutions designed to help the Census Bureau collect and analyze massive amounts of response data – and reach and connect with traditionally hard-to-count populations, which include tech-savvy young and mobile millennials.
Learn about the collaboration between the Enterprise Censuses and Surveys Enabling (ECaSE) platform and Census Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions that work in tandem to create a robust end-to-end process. Discover a perpetual loop process that includes data collection, analytics, managing 400,000 partners, targeting low-response rate geographies, and refining outreach efforts to drive self-response rates.
Get a better understanding of how the Census Bureau looks to leverage lessons learned and best practices from the 2020 collection to develop effective partners and satisfied citizens. Hear about Census initiatives to drive new uses of technology for self-response, capture data, and enhance dynamic analytics capabilities.
Our panelists are looking forward to sharing how their teams’ efforts empower the Census Bureau to embrace innovation to be more resilient today and own their digital future.
- Welcome to the innovation hub and our panel discussion with transformation leaders from the US census bureau. Joining us today are Terry Galloway, Patty Maguire, and Zach Schwartz who have brought the agency through a digital transformation, supporting the largest peacetime operation on US soil. Thank you all for being here.
- Thank you. - Thanks for having us. - Thanks Doug.
- So there are a number of different aspects of this technology landscape. It really is impressive. So, maybe before we get into the details, it might be worth taking a moment to understand a little bit of the landscape, specifically around the ECASE and CRM solutions. So to kick us off, maybe Patty, could you take us through what ECASE is?
- Sure. But before I do again, thank you for having my census colleagues and I here today. I do want to give you a little bit of insight into the census, which is one of the largest peacetime undertakings of the US government. We do it every 10 years. It's an it's required by the US constitution. And what we're supposed to do is count every person living in the US once and only once and where they live. So notice I said where they live, that's important because it means we count people at addresses and not just the people, we're enumerating them at where they live. We do the data collection by internet, by telephone, by and by personal visit and by paper questionnaire. So ECASE which stands for enterprise census and survey, enabling platform, that was built on the Pega product. And that allowed us to do the data collection. For example, our enumerators who are out in the field right now, finishing our non-response followup operation are, are using the Pega application on their handheld iPhones. We have about 150,000 and enumerators out in the field right now. And just to set some context of the scope of the work that we had to do for the census, there are over 300, about 330 million people living in about 140 million housing units or living quarters in the US right now. And that's what our undertaking involved. I worked closely with Terry Galloway on the delivery of the ECASE. So Terry, is there anything you want to add, more technical detail about what ECASE provided for us?
- Sure Patty. Let me start at a high level. The census follows what we call a commissary methodology for collecting respondents data. And basically what that is is four possible modes of data collection. One mode is paper. The other is internet, self response. One is called computer assisted personal interview. That's when we go to the households, we get the interview. And when it's called computer assisted telephone interview for the census, the way we that was occurred as if someone called that help desk or help desk post basically collected their response right then and there, using our internet self response system. And how ECASE played into that as, ECASE, we've made five key components systems in ECASE the first one is called the ECASE Survey Operational Control System. And what that system does is that system is the overall brain, as it relates to our response collection. And what I mean by the brain is that system basically determines the entire workload of cases that we're going to be using to get respondents from. And it distributes that workload throughout all of our other systems that are in the city. And what also that system does is as these other systems collect response data, they send this system status information. In a real time We know exactly what's going on for each case within outside our universe. The next component that we use within ECASE is what we call Self Response Case Consolidation. And what that system is, that is the system where all of our self response data is stored, whether it's whether the data is being collected by paper, or whether the data's being collected by internet self response, all of that data is stored there. And we do some what we call some additional processing for that particular data. Another key component within the ECASE, as it relates to Pega, is what we call a Field Operational Controls System and think of the field operators control system, similar to the overall operating control system, except with at a lower level, it's just for the field. So basically it manages all the field where it does controls of all the field assignments. It makes assignments, it does alerts. And the next two systems are basically those two sets of modes that we use for Pega. One is called the ECASE Enumeration System. And what that system is that is our caddy system. So when someone comes to your house or knocks on your door and they're collecting your actual response, they're using that ECASE enumeration system to collect your response. And last but not least is what we call ECASE ISR. And this is what I was talking about with the caddy one, when someone calls in to our help desk, the folks collect your actual information by opening up that ECASE ISR system on their particular laptops. As you can see Doug, we have multiple systems as it, that makes up the overall complex operation of the census as it relates to ECASE.
- Yeah, it's, I'm obviously familiar with this, but every time I hear you guys talk about it, it's so impressive. All the things that are going on there. So thank you for that, Terry and Patty. Zach, can you tell us a little bit about the census CRM system?
- Yeah, Doug, you know, as you know, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, it is a technology for managing all of an organization's relationships and interactions with customers or potential customers. Now we're government, right? So in our case, our CRM is really as relates to the 2020 about managing our partnerships. And we've got over 3000 partnership specialists who are utilizing this tool to work with and gather partners across the entire United States and Puerto Rico. We use CRM to track our partnership outreach, our commitments, and it really has helped us increase participation as a part of the 2020 census. CRM and ECASE really come together to help us meet our overall mission with the 2020.
- Got it. Yep. Okay. So we'll go around the horn on this one, but maybe we could start with you, Zach, what are the touch points between ECASE and CRM that are really sort of driving those outcomes that you're looking for, like the self response rates, and delivering at scale.
- So if you think about it, as I mentioned, there's about over 3000 users who are utilizing CRM and as a result, they really work across the entire US across all of our partners. And they're really vital to the promotion and completion of 20, of the 2020 census. You know, they include governments, nonprofits, corporations, community organizations, and we're able to reach such a large number of partners because the activity around this is enormous. And to track our over 400,000 partners across the nation requires a tool like what we have with our Pega CRM, you know along with onboarding these 400,000 plus partners, our CRM helps us coordinate over 460,000 events, 600,000 commitment to bring awareness to the 2020 census. Our CRM is there because it helps us automate a lot of these complex and repetitive tasks like recording, notifications and most importantly, data hygiene, because this data is things that we want to use year after year after year as we're working with our partners. It really empowers our CRM users to be able to focus on the value, add activities, such as email marketing, campaigns, data dissemination. All of these are really important for us as we look at our outreach. These automated processes really help our bureau really help the bureau. As far as our capabilities around the 2020 census actually reach partners, help them, remind them to remind their communities about the importance of responding to the 2020 census. Without this very important enabling technology, our reach just would not have been what it was for the 2020 census. Patty, is there something else that you would also want to add from an ECASE perspective?
- Terry talked about how we used ECASE to not only do the data collection, but also manage the workload across the different methods of data collection. So we were getting real time information about who was responding to the census and where they were located, meaning the address and based on that analysis and the data analytics and the business intelligence tools, we could determine where we had the response rates and then work with CRM and our partners. Then through CRM and other mechanisms, like our communications campaign to target those low response areas and try to improve the response rates in those areas. Terry, what do you think?
- Yeah, sure. Patty. So you guys are mentioning real time a lot in this conversation because the quicker we can get the data and the quicker we can get the data to the other users, the more reactive we can be actually doing the actual overall operation. So as we collect the response data, and as we collect this status information about each and every case, we basically push that data to our census data lake and our census data lake not only holds this response information, it holds other types of information, marketing information, those other things where all that information can be just collaborated with, with our business intelligence tools and combined. And then basically it gives our CRM folks that Zach was mentioning access to this real time data. They get access to real time response rates and things of that nature which basically lets them, let us react quicker to things as we see them. So Doug, as you can see from the touch points of ECASE, CRM and census, we dwell on real time a lot, because it's key for us to get in very interactive in our overall operations.
- I love it. And thank you all for that overview. I think what always strikes me is it's really not about an individual system or an application, it's really about driving that outcome and kind of going back and forth, as you were saying, we're not seeing enough response here. Let's use CRM to deploy, and then we can see it back, cause it's really about driving that. So this is frankly, the favorite part of, of my job is speaking to transformation leaders such as yourself. So I always like asking this, this question, knowing that, that transformation isn't easy in government and it really is never for the faint of heart, there's gotta be some lessons learned in this. So let's go around the horn, but I'd love to hear what you've actually learned through this. So maybe start with you Terry.
- But one thing I would like to say, contrary to what was being reported and how we use Pega, it was mentioned that folks thought we were using this big, big built monolithic system, single built system. But as I described in our, in the opening as describing the modules, it's really smaller functionality that you loosely, couple of modules, and they work with common APIs. And what this does is, this allow flexibility in our overall architecture. It allows us to move and communicate with things in a different way so we can change the data flows, based on the way we had this architecture set up. And also it allows us to pull components out, and put other components in, which is really good when you're talking about the census. And when you talk about integrating with modern systems, as well as legacy systems, because as you're well aware, there are over 60 plus systems that are used in the overall census, so being able to talk to these different types of systems is key for the 2020 architecture. Patty, what's your takeaway from 2020?
- This is not my first census. I've, I've actually worked on four census's going back to 1990. And even what has transpired on this census has surprised me with many of the things that we had to deal with going on in the country. But actually this census is the first one where we offered those four modes of data collection, working all together, getting that real time information, and then that real-time workload management that Terry has referenced. And thank gosh for that technology that we were implemented, because that really allowed us to quickly adapt and deal with what was going on and try to get our job done and get to a, a good response for the census. It's so important for people to be counted.
- And Patty I, I totally agree. I mean, a hundred percent, this was a very unique census and I will just add that our partners were truly instrumental in this effort. You know, they amplified our public service announcements. They updated their messaging as our timelines changed. There, there was just a lot that went into it. Our comprehensive approach is not only about messaging amplification and updates, but by focusing on true, deeper engagements. With our partners, we were able to actually help move from messaging amplification to direct public engagement through our events, our speaking engagements, really helped us in increasing our response. These efforts, especially at the scale that they needed to be for the 2020 census, would just not have been possible without a tool, like CRM, that really expanded our capability to engage with our partners. As you can see, Doug, our putting it all together with a talented group of people, and complimentary systems really lead to a successful 2020 census.
- Got it, got it. So just a, I guess last question here for everyone, you know, Pega takes customer success really seriously. It's really kind of core to our culture, and we've been really privileged to have been even a small part of the partnership with the 2020 census. So I'd love to hear just what, what the partnership has been like, maybe from each of you, Terry, do you mind letting us or kicking off?
- Sure. To be blunt again is when you participate in IT and operational activity of this magnitude for the government, there are a lot of things going on around you. The majority of which is more people related than IT related that impact key decisions, there are reports going on their audits, they're working with multiple types of contractors, multiple internal folks, and multiple government agencies. Personally, I feel that the Pega team and working through all of this handled themselves very well and very professionally as they navigated through all of this. And they assisted us in having a very successful census. What's your experience with Pega, Patty?
- So, Terry and I worked together on the ECASE delivery, and I would agree with Terry, they were all in to help us succeed, that we've been working with them since about 2016 on this 2020 census implementation and their, their people, the technology, the processes that they brought were a huge help to us. They, they use an agile scrum delivery methodology and worked closely with our product owners to, to make sure that what the, they, their end result, the product that they provided, would work for us and allow us to get the 2020 census done. And we were very appreciative of their, their efforts and helping us succeed. Zack, what did you think from the CRM experience?
- Yeah. You know, with our CRM experience was very similar to you and the ECASE side, you know, the people, processes and technologies really were important. And there's just, again, no doubt in my mind that we would not have been able to reach the number of partners and therefore the number of respondents across the US without this tool. You know, we not only met our goal of 300,000 partners nationwide. We exceeded that goal with now over 400,000 partners. We're really grateful for the tool, we're really grateful for the organization that was able to bring it to us. It really enhanced the Bureau's capabilities around CRM.
- So it's really great to hear, but more than anything we should really say thanks to all of you for being innovative leaders and for your service and making this all happen. So thanks to all of you for joining us today, and really glad that the census bureau was able to participate in Evolve for Government 2020. Glad to be here.
- Anytime we get to talk about the census it's great. It's a great day.
- Agreed. Agreed. So thanks to all of you and thanks to all of you for joining us today. And we'll go back to you, Justin.
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