[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 155 (Friday, August 10, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 47783-47787]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-19672]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 155 / Friday, August 10, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 47783]]



 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Bureau of the Census

15 CFR Part 90

[Docket Number 111215758-2028-01]
RIN 0607-AA51


Resumption of the Population Estimates Challenge Program and 
Proposed Changes to the Program

AGENCY: Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of the Census (Census Bureau) is proposing to 
resume the Population Estimates Challenge Program in 2012 to provide 
eligible entities the opportunity to file requests for the review of 
population estimates for 2011 and subsequent years. The Census Bureau 
is also proposing to amend its regulations to: (1) Update references to 
the method by which population estimates are officially released; (2) 
clarify when a challenge of a population estimate can be requested; (3) 
specify who may file a request for a population estimate challenge; (4) 
remove all references to the per capita income estimates program and 
the Office of General Revenue Sharing; (5) change the regulation title 
of a current program from ``Procedure for Challenging Certain 
Population and Income Estimates'' to ``Procedure for Challenging 
Population Estimates '' to reflect the removal of the per capita income 
estimates program; (6) revise the requirements of the challenge 
process; and (7) remove all references to a formal challenge process. 
The Census Bureau is proposing changes to the procedure for the 
Population Estimates Challenge Program that are intended to clarify and 
streamline the procedures for local units of general-purpose 
government. The Census Bureau is proposing to remove the references for 
the per capita income estimates changes because the Census Bureau no 
longer produces per capita income estimates. The program that used 
those estimates, the General Revenue Sharing program, was eliminated 
for the States in 1980 and was not reauthorized for local governments 
after fiscal year 2000.

DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before September 10, 
2012.

ADDRESSES: Please direct all written comments on this notice to Mr. 
Rodger V. Johnson, Chief, Local Government Estimates and Migration 
Processing Branch, Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau, Room 6H480, 
Mail Stop 8800, Washington, DC 20233-8800.
    You also may submit comments, identified by RIN number 0607-AA51, 
to the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. All 
comments received are a part of the public record. No comments will be 
posted to http://www.regulations.gov for public viewing until after the 
comment period has closed. Comments generally will be posted without 
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, 
address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information. The Census Bureau will 
accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you 
wish to remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic 
comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Rodger V. Johnson, Chief, Local 
Government Estimates and Migration Processing Branch, Population 
Division, U.S. Census Bureau, Room 6H480, Mail Stop 8800, Washington, 
DC 20233-8800, by telephone on (301) 763-2461, by Fax (301) 763-2516, 
or by email at rodger.v.johnson@census.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Census Bureau is mandated to release population estimates 
annually in accordance with Title 13 of the United States Code 
(U.S.C.). These estimates are based upon the most recent Decennial 
Census of Population and Housing and compiled from the most current 
administrative and survey data available for that purpose. As part of 
its authorization, the Census Bureau offers an opportunity for local 
units of general-purpose government (hereinafter collectively 
``governmental unit'') to challenge these official estimates through 
its Population Estimates Challenge Program. Under this program, a 
governmental unit may challenge their population estimate by submitting 
additional data to the Census Bureau for evaluation. If the additional 
data are accepted during the review period by the Census Bureau, 
resulting in an updated population estimate, the Census Bureau will 
provide a written notification to the governmental unit and publish the 
revised estimate at www.census.gov. If the additional data are not 
accepted for a revised estimate, the Census Bureau will notify the 
governmental unit.
    Changes to the challenge process for this decade are being made 
based on results of evaluations of the accuracy of the Census Bureau's 
current methodology for producing population estimates compared with 
the accuracy of alternative approaches. In the previous decade, the 
Census Bureau modified the standard methodology to accommodate 
challenges by allowing housing unit-based estimates to supplant cohort-
component based estimates at the county level, and eliminating key sets 
of population controls generally imposed on county and subcounty 
estimates. The evaluations show that the challenge procedure used in 
the previous decade resulted in less accurate estimates of the 
population of governmental units. This has led the Census Bureau to 
revise the challenge process to no longer accept estimates developed 
from methods different from those used by the Census Bureau. In the 
revised challenge process, the Census Bureau will only accept a 
challenge when the evidence provided identifies the use of incorrect 
data, processes, or calculations in the estimates.
    On January 4, 2010, the Census Bureau published a final rule in the 
Federal Register (75 FR 44) to announce that, beginning on February 3, 
2010, the Census Bureau would temporarily suspend the Population 
Estimates Challenge Program during the decennial census year and the 
following year to accommodate the taking of the 2010 Census, and 
indefinitely suspend the Per Capita Income Estimates Challenge Program.

[[Page 47784]]

    In this proposed rule, the Census Bureau is proposing to resume the 
Population Estimates Challenge Program in 2012 to provide governmental 
units the opportunity to challenge population estimates for 2011 and 
subsequent years. The Census Bureau is also proposing to revise its 
regulations to: (1) Update references to the method by which population 
estimates are officially released; (2) clarify when a challenge of a 
population estimate can be requested; (3) specify who may file a 
request for a population estimate challenge; (4) remove all references 
to per capita income estimates and the Office of General Revenue 
Sharing; (5) change the regulation title of a current program from 
``Procedure for Challenging Certain Population and Income Estimates'' 
to ``Procedure for Challenging Population Estimates'' to reflect the 
removal of the per capita income estimates program; (6) revise the 
requirements of the challenge process; and (7) remove all references to 
a formal challenge process.
    These proposed changes to the regulations are intended to clarify 
the procedure for seeking a population estimate challenge by a 
governmental unit, and to make the regulations clearer by eliminating 
out-of-date provisions. The Census Bureau proposes in Sec.  90.6 to 
update references to the method by which population estimates are 
officially released to reflect widespread use of the Internet (rather 
than the Federal Register) for disseminating official demographic data. 
For example, if this proposal is adopted, the challenge process may be 
initiated after the population estimates are posted on the Internet 
(rather than published in the Federal Register).
    Proposed Sec.  90.6 also would reduce the time period when a 
challenge to a population estimate may be filed from 180 days to 90 
days after the release of the estimates by the Census Bureau. In the 
Census Bureau's judgment, 90 days are sufficient for an applicant to 
review the population estimate and to submit additional data to update 
the population estimate. This change also will ensure that, in most 
instances, the Census Bureau reviews and incorporates accepted data 
into subsequent estimates releases in a timely manner.
    Proposed Sec.  90.8 would specify that the types of data that are 
submitted must be consistent with the criteria, standards, and regular 
processes the Census Bureau employs to generate the population 
estimate. We further specify that the Census Bureau will provide 
additional Web-based information describing the data that are required 
and how the governmental unit may contact us. Proposed Sec.  90.8 will 
also specify what methods can be used in the challenge process.
    Proposed Sec.  90.9 would specify that the Census Bureau will work 
with the governmental unit to verify the data that it has submitted, 
evaluate the data submitted, and render its decision in writing to the 
governmental unit. The Census Bureau will also post the revised 
population estimate at www.census.gov.
    Furthermore, the Census Bureau proposes one new section (Sec.  
90.5) regarding who may file a request for a challenge to a population 
estimate. Under the proposed new regulations, the chief executive 
officer or highest elected official of the requesting governmental unit 
would be the only individual authorized to submit such requests. This 
change is proposed to ensure that persons authorized by law to commit 
the governmental unit to a particular course of action have approved 
the request for a challenge prior to submission to the Census Bureau.
    The Census Bureau proposes to revise all applicable sections of the 
Population Estimates Challenge Program regulations so that states no 
longer are eligible to directly participate in the Program. The Census 
Bureau proposes that the sub-state governmental units be the sole 
entity to request a challenge for the population estimates for their 
respective jurisdictions. Under the method employed by the Census 
Bureau, state level population estimates are a summary of the estimates 
for each county and/or statistical equivalent that comprise each state. 
Therefore, sub-state governmental units are the most appropriate level 
to request a challenge of the population estimates for their respective 
jurisdictions. In addition, it should be noted that the Census Bureau 
and the state governments have formally established and have maintained 
a long-term working relationship through the Federal State Cooperative 
for Population Estimates (FSCPE). State agencies, designated by their 
respective governors, work in cooperation with the Census Bureau to 
produce population estimates. The Census Bureau begins the process of 
preparing population estimates by updating population information from 
the most recent decennial census with information found in the annual 
administrative records of Federal and state agencies. The Federal 
agencies provide tax records, Medicare records, and some vital 
statistics and group quarters information. The FSCPE agencies supply 
vital statistics and information about group quarters like college 
dorms or prisons. The Census Bureau combines census base data, 
administrative records, and selected survey data to produce current 
population estimates consistent with the last decennial census counts. 
Moreover, the Census Bureau's governmental unit estimates are provided 
to the FSCPE agencies in preliminary form for review and comment to 
resolve data processing issues identified during that period. For the 
purposes of this program, the District of Columbia is treated as a 
statistical equivalent of a county and, therefore, eligible to 
participate.
    In addition, existing Sec. Sec.  90.9 through 90.18 are proposed to 
be deleted. In the Census Bureau's judgment, these sections no longer 
are needed, as the proposed Population Estimates Challenge Program 
would not include a formal challenge process. This change is consistent 
with the procedures advanced in proposed Sec.  90.8 and Sec.  90.9 to 
specify the required data and to verify that data are accurate and 
complete before the Census Bureau reviews the data and renders its 
decision on whether or not to update the population estimate. 
Discontinuing the formal process removes a redundant procedure and, 
therefore, enables the Census Bureau to render a more timely decision 
during the review and update process. The Census Bureau proposes to 
eliminate all references to the per capita income estimates program and 
the General Revenue Sharing Program from its regulations at 15 CFR 90 
because the Census Bureau no longer produces per capita income 
estimates. The Census Bureau generated the per capita income estimates 
for the General Revenue Sharing Program, pursuant to Section 109(a) of 
the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972 (Pub. L. 92-512, 
Sec.  109(a), 86 Stat. 919, 929 (1972)). The General Revenue Sharing 
Program was eliminated for the States in 1980 under the State and Local 
Fiscal Assistance Act Amendments of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-604, Sec.  2, 94 
Stat. 3516 (1980)), and was not reauthorized for local governments 
after fiscal year 2000 (See Pub. L. 103-322, Sec.  31001, 108 Stat. 
1796, 1859 (1994)). Due to the discontinuation of the General Revenue 
Sharing Program, the Census Bureau no longer needs to generate and 
publish per capita income estimates. In order to avoid any confusion 
regarding the status of the per capita income estimates program, the 
Census Bureau proposes to eliminate all references to per capita income 
from the regulations. The Census Bureau also is proposing to change the 
titling of the program to reflect the fact that the Census Bureau no 
longer generates per

[[Page 47785]]

capita income estimates previously mandated by law.
    The Census Bureau also is proposing minor technical changes to the 
regulations, such as a change to the numbering of sections and heading 
titles to reconcile the changes proposed in this rule. The following 
chart reflects the proposed renumbering of sections and revisions to 
heading titles, with new and revised sections noted in parentheses, for 
the public's convenience:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Current                              Proposed
------------------------------------------------------------------------
PART 90 PROCEDURE FOR CHALLENGING        PART 90 PROCEDURE FOR
 CERTAIN POPULATION AND INCOME            CHALLENGING POPULATION
 ESTIMATES.                               ESTIMATES.
90.1 Scope and applicability...........  90.1 Scope and applicability.
90.2 Policy of the Census Bureau.......  90.2 Policy of the Census
                                          Bureau.
90.3 Definitions.......................  90.3 Definitions.
90.4 General...........................  90.4 General.
--.....................................  (New) 90.5 Who may file a
                                          challenge.
90.5 When an informal challenge may be   90.6 When a challenge may be
 filed.                                   filed.
90.6 Where to file challenge...........  (Revised) 90.7 Where to file a
                                          challenge.
90.7 Evidence required.................  (Revised) 90.8 Evidence
                                          required.
90.8 Review of challenge...............  (Revised) 90.9 Review of
                                          challenge.
90.9 When formal procedure may be        (Deleted).
 invoked.
--.....................................  ...............................
90.10 Form of formal challenge and time  (Deleted).
 limit for filing.
90.11 Appointment of hearing officer...  (Deleted).
90.12 Qualifications of hearing officer  (Deleted).
90.13 Offer of hearing.................  (Deleted).
90.14 Hearing..........................  (Deleted).
90.15 Decision by Director.............  (Deleted).
90.16 Notification of adjustment.......  (Deleted).
90.17 Timing for hearing and decision..  (Deleted).
90.18 Representation...................  (Deleted).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), as amended by the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), 5 U.S.C. 
601 et seq., generally requires an agency to prepare a regulatory 
flexibility analysis of any rule subject to the notice and comment 
rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 
U.S.C. 553) or any other statute, unless the agency certifies that the 
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. Under section 605(b) of the RFA, however, if 
the head of an agency certifies that a rule will not have a significant 
impact on a substantial number of small entities, the statute does not 
require the agency to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis. 
Pursuant to section 605(b), the Chief Counsel for Regulation, 
Department of Commerce, submitted a memorandum to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy, Small Business Administration, certifying that this proposed 
rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of 
small entities.

Number of Small Entities

    This proposed rule, if implemented, would impact only governmental 
units, some of which may be considered a small entity under the RFA. 
The RFA defines ``small entity'' as a small business, small 
organization, or small governmental jurisdiction. Specifically, the RFA 
defines ``small governmental jurisdiction'' as the government of a 
city, county, town, school district, or special district with a 
population of less than 50,000. Using this criterion, the Census Bureau 
estimates that around 37,000 small governmental jurisdictions would be 
impacted by this rulemaking.

Economic Impact

    The Census Bureau does not anticipate any economic impact as a 
result of this proposed rule. This rulemaking intends to resume the 
implementation of the Population Estimates Challenge Program in 2012 to 
provide eligible entities the opportunity to file a challenge to 
population estimates for 2011 and subsequent years, and to implement 
changes to clarify the procedure to challenge population estimates for 
local units of general-purpose government. There are no direct costs 
imposed on governmental entities (units) that wish to initiate a 
challenge under the Population Estimates Challenge Program. In 
addition, the Census Bureau also is proposing to amend its regulations 
to remove all references to per capita income estimates. The Census 
Bureau is proposing the change to remove per capita income because the 
Census Bureau no longer produces per capita income estimates. The 
program that used those estimates, the General Revenue Sharing program, 
was eliminated for the States in 1980 and not reauthorized for local 
governments after fiscal year 2000.

Executive Orders

    This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of 
Executive Order 12866. This rule does not contain policies with 
federalism implications as that term is defined in Executive Order 
13132.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This notice of proposed rulemaking does not contain a collection of 
information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act 
(PRA), 44 U.S.C., Chapter 35. Notwithstanding any other provision of 
the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be 
subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of 
information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that 
collection of information displays a currently valid OMB Control 
Number.

List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 90

    Administrative practice and procedure, Census data, Population 
census, Statistics.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Census Bureau proposes 
to amend 15 CFR Part 90 to read as follows:
    1. The authority citation for Part 90 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  13 U.S.C. 4 and 181.


[[Page 47786]]


    2. Lift the stay on Part 90 published at 75 FR 46, Jan. 4, 2010.
    3. Revise 15 CFR Part 90 in its entirety to read as follows:

PART 90 PROCEDURE FOR CHALLENGING POPULATION ESTIMATES

Section
90.1 Scope and applicability.
90.2 Policy of the Census Bureau.
90.3 Definitions.
90.4 General.
90.5 Who may file a challenge.
90.6 When a challenge may be filed.
90.7 Where to file a challenge.
90.8 Evidence required.
90.9 Review of challenge.

    Authority:  13 U.S.C. 4 and 181.

    Source: 44 FR 20647, Apr. 6, 1979, unless otherwise noted.


Sec.  90.1  Scope and applicability.

    Between decennial censuses, the Census Bureau annually prepares 
statistical estimates of the number of people residing in states and 
their governmental units. In general, these estimates are developed by 
updating the population counts produced in the most recent decennial 
census with demographic components of change data and/or other 
indicators of population change. These rules prescribe the 
administrative procedure available to governmental units to request a 
challenge to the most current of these estimates.


Sec.  90.2  Policy of the Census Bureau.

    It is the policy of the Census Bureau to provide the most accurate 
population estimates possible given the constraints of time, money, and 
available statistical techniques. It is also the policy of the Census 
Bureau to provide governmental units the opportunity to seek a review 
and provide additional data to these estimates and to present evidence 
relating to the accuracy of the estimates.


Sec.  90.3  Definitions.

    As used in this part (except where the context clearly indicates 
otherwise) the following definitions shall apply:
    (a) Census Bureau means the U.S. Census Bureau, Department of 
Commerce.
    (b) Population Estimates Challenge means, in accordance with this 
part, the process a governmental unit may use to provide additional 
input data for the Census Bureau's population estimate and the 
submission of substantive documentation in support thereof.
    (c) Director means Director of the Census Bureau, or an individual 
designated by the Director to perform under this part.
    (d) Population estimate means a statistically developed calculation 
of the number of people living in a governmental unit to update the 
preceding census or earlier estimate.
    (e) A governmental unit means the government of a county, 
municipality, township, incorporated place, or other minor civil 
division, which is a unit of general-purpose government below the 
State.
    (f) For the purposes of this program, an eligible governmental unit 
includes the District of Columbia.


Sec.  90.4  General.

    This part provides a procedure for a governmental unit to request a 
challenge of a population estimate of the Census Bureau. The Census 
Bureau, upon receipt of the appropriate documentation, will attempt to 
resolve the estimate with the governmental unit.


Sec.  90.5  Who may file a challenge.

    A request for a challenge of a population estimate generated by the 
Census Bureau may be filed only by the chief executive officer or 
highest elected official of a governmental unit.


Sec.  90.6  When a challenge may be filed.

    (a) A request for a challenge to a population estimate may be filed 
any time up to 90 days after the release of the estimate by the Census 
Bureau. Publication by the Census Bureau on its Web site 
(www.census.gov) shall constitute release. Documentation requesting a 
challenge of any estimate may also be filed any time up to 90 days from 
the date the Census Bureau, on its own initiative, revises that 
estimate.
    (b) If, however, a governmental unit has a sufficiently meritorious 
reason for not filing in a timely manner, the Census Bureau has the 
discretion to accept the late request.
    [50 FR 28768, July 16, 1985]


Sec.  90.7  Where to file a challenge.

    A request for a population estimate challenge must be prepared in 
writing by the governmental unit and filed with the Chief, Population 
Division, Census Bureau, Room 5H174, Mail Stop 8800, Washington, DC 
20233. The governmental unit must designate a contact person who can be 
reached by telephone during normal business hours should questions 
arise with regard to the submitted materials.


Sec.  90.8  Evidence required.

    The governmental unit shall provide whatever evidence it has 
relevant to the request at the time of filing. The Census Bureau may 
request further evidence when necessary. The evidence submitted must be 
consistent with the criteria, standards, and regular processes the 
Census Bureau employs to generate the population estimate. The Census 
Bureau has revised the challenge process to no longer accept estimates 
developed from methods different from those used by the Census Bureau. 
In the revised challenge process, the Census Bureau will only accept a 
challenge when the evidence provided identifies the use of incorrect 
data, processes, or calculations in the estimates.
    For counties and statistical equivalents, the Census Bureau uses a 
cohort component of change method to produce population estimates. Each 
year, the components of change are updated. These components include 
births, deaths, migration, and change in the group quarters population. 
The Census Bureau will consider a challenge based on additional 
information on one or more of the components of change or about the 
group quarters population in a locality.
    For minor civil divisions and incorporated places, the Census 
Bureau uses a housing unit method to distribute the county population. 
The components in this method include housing units, occupancy rates, 
and persons per household plus an estimate of the population in group 
quarters. The Census Bureau will consider a challenge based on data 
related to changes in an area's housing stock, such as data on 
demolitions, building permits, or mobile home placements. The Census 
Bureau will also consider a challenge based on additional information 
about the group quarters population in a locality.
    The Census Bureau will also provide a guide on its Web site as a 
reference for governmental units to use in developing their data as 
evidence to support a challenge to the population estimate. In 
addition, a governmental unit may address any additional questions by 
contacting the Census Bureau at the address provided in Sec.  90.7 of 
this part.


Sec.  90.9  Review of challenge.

    The Chief, Population Division, Census Bureau, or the Chief's 
designee shall review the evidence provided with the request for the 
population estimate challenge, shall work with the governmental unit to 
verify the data provided by the governmental unit, and evaluate the 
data to resolve the issues raised by the governmental unit. Thereafter, 
the Census Bureau shall respond in writing with a decision to accept or 
deny the challenge. In the event that the Census Bureau finds that the 
population estimate should be updated, it will also post the revised 
estimate on the Census Bureau's Web site (www.census.gov).


[[Page 47787]]


     Dated: August 3, 2012.
 Robert M. Groves,
 Director, Bureau of the Census.
[FR Doc. 2012-19672 Filed 8-9-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-07-P