[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 2 (Thursday, January 3, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 255-260]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-31598]



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Rules and Regulations
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Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 2 / Thursday, January 3, 2013 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 255]]



DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Bureau of the Census

15 CFR Part 90

[Docket Number 111215758-2650-04]
RIN 0607-AA51


Resumption of the Population Estimates Challenge Program

AGENCY: Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Bureau of the Census (Census Bureau) is resuming the 
Population Estimates Challenge Program to provide eligible governmental 
units the opportunity to file requests for the review of population 
estimates for 2011 and subsequent years. The Census Bureau is amending 
its regulations to: Update references to the method by which population 
estimates are officially released; clarify when a challenge of a 
population estimate can be requested; specify who may file a request 
for a population estimate challenge; remove all references to the per 
capita income estimates program and the Office of General Revenue 
Sharing; 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; revise the 
requirements of the challenge process; and remove all references to a 
formal challenge process. The changes to the procedure for the 
Population Estimates Challenge Program clarify and streamline the 
procedures for local units of general-purpose government. The Census 
Bureau is removing 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: This Final Rule is effective on February 4, 2013.

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 sub-
state 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. In those instances where a non-functioning 
county-level government or statistical equivalent exists, the State 
member agencies of the Federal-State Cooperative for Population 
Estimates (FSCPE) program may represent the area.
    Changes to the challenge process for this decade are 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.
    The Census Bureau is resuming the Population Estimates Challenge 
Program to provide eligible governmental units the opportunity to 
challenge population estimates for 2011 and subsequent years. 
Previously, the Census Bureau published a final rule on January 4, 
2010, 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. The suspension of the program was followed up on August 10, 
2012, by the Census Bureau with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and 
Request for Comments in the Federal Register (77 FR 47783) for its 
program, entitled ``Resumption of the Population Estimates Challenge 
Program and Proposed Changes to the Program.'' In that announcement, 
the Census Bureau proposed resuming 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 proposal was available for comment during a 30-day period 
that ended on September 10, 2012. The Census Bureau has now reviewed 
these comments and responded to them below in this final rule.

[[Page 256]]

Summary of Comments and Responses

    The Census Bureau received eight sets of comments during the 
comment period. A summary of these comments and the detailed responses 
by the Census Bureau are provided below:
    Commenter 1. The commenter stated that the Census Bureau's proposal 
greatly reduces the opportunities for localities to challenge county-
level population estimates that the Census Bureau initially produces 
through the cohort-component or Administrative Records (ADREC) method. 
The commenter agreed that this method overall produced the most 
accurate county-level estimates, as compared to the 2010 Census counts, 
nevertheless, the commenter pointed out that there were exceptions in 
which a housing unit based method did produce an estimate closer to the 
2010 Census results. The commenter also suggested that the Census 
Bureau continue to pursue research on alternate methods of population 
estimation in the event that these methods that were proven to be less 
useful at one point in time, may be more useful in the future. More 
specifically, the commenter suggested that the Census Bureau consider a 
pilot program in which a small cross-section of jurisdictions, with 
participation through the FSCPE member agencies, provide information 
towards the next round of evaluative studies.
    Response 1. The Census Bureau acknowledges that a variant of the 
housing unit based method did produce more accurate results in some 
instances, as compared to the 2010 Census. However, the ADREC method 
consistently produced county-level estimates closer to the 2010 Census 
results, whereas the housing unit based population estimates were 
upwardly biased. The program changes will enable eligible governmental 
units to focus their comments upon the data used to produce population 
estimates and to provide alternative or supplemental data to the Census 
Bureau to evaluate for use in revising the original estimate under the 
existing methodology. Incorporating this challenge-based data 
systematically each year will improve the credibility and accuracy of 
the subsequent estimates and contribute to a longer-term goal of 
continuous improvement in the estimation process. The Census Bureau 
accepts the suggestion to continue to work with the FSCPE member 
agencies, county, and local governments to maintain a research agenda 
that addresses alternate methods of estimation, not as official 
estimates, but to help inform a population estimates program that 
focuses upon improving the accuracy of the estimates.
    Commenter 2. The commenter wrote in with concern towards one part 
of the notice that stated that ``sub-state governmental units be the 
sole entity to request a challenge * * * for their respective 
jurisdictions.'' The commenter noted that in states of the Northeast, 
counties exist that do not serve legally as functioning general-purpose 
governmental units. In such instances, there would be no functioning 
governmental body to represent the area. In these states or in certain 
counties within them, often the only governmental units in place are 
minor civil divisions in the form of towns or equivalent areas that are 
subdivisions of their respective counties. The commenter requested that 
the Census Bureau reconsider this rule and provide for some flexibility 
in the rule in order to allow State level representation of these non-
functioning counties should the state representative find issues with 
regard to the population estimates and the components.
    Response 2. The Census Bureau acknowledges the issue and concurs 
that it is necessary to implement appropriate wording changes to define 
a role for States to represent these non-functioning governmental units 
for the purposes of the challenge program. None of the counties in 
Connecticut or Rhode Island are classified by the Census Bureau as 
active functioning general-purpose governmental units; in 
Massachusetts, nine of its fourteen counties are not classified as 
active functioning general-purpose governmental units. In Maine, New 
Hampshire, and Vermont, the Census Bureau classifies all counties as 
active functioning general-purpose governmental units. In Alaska, the 
county-equivalent Census Areas are statistical units and therefore may 
need representation by the State government should an issue arise with 
regard to their estimates and component data. The Census Bureau has 
amended the regulations in this final rule to recognize the FSCPE 
member agencies in the challenge program in order to present 
appropriate data on behalf of these non-functioning entities. The 
Census Bureau will continue to monitor legal status changes in the 
future that may result in one or more counties changing from active, 
general-purpose governmental units into non-functioning governmental 
entities to ensure coverage by the FSCPE member agencies.
    Commenter 3. The commenter stated that the proposal would make the 
challenge program essentially meaningless by cutting off any options 
for localities to offer an alternative approach for county-level 
population estimates; the commenter offered several comments to support 
this viewpoint. The commenter stated that ``no one estimates 
methodology has proven itself to be accurate for all types of areas in 
the country'' and that ``reliance on a single Administrative Records 
(ADREC) method for production of county population estimates and a 
variation of the housing unit method for subcounty estimates simply 
ignores the fact that alternative methods and data sources can produce 
quality estimates at any given point in time and for any given area.'' 
The commenter argued that the proposal not to allow alternative 
estimates was to some degree influenced by potential difficulty that 
the Census Bureau would experience in incorporating alternate 
challenges into the existing production environment that the Census 
Bureau uses to produce the estimates in the first place. The commenter 
stated that the Census Bureau should allow alternative based estimates 
that meet certain tests of the accuracy of these methods against 
established decennial census results. Finally, the commenter suggested 
noting the FSCPE member agencies as a potential technical resource 
available to sub-state governmental units.
    Response 3. During the temporary suspension the Population 
Estimates and the Per Capita Income Estimates Challenge Programs 
attendant to the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau evaluated the 2010 
population estimates and the methods used to create them. These 
evaluations also were meant to inform the redesign of the challenge 
program. As part of this process, the Census Bureau assessed the 
county-level population estimates produced with the ADREC and housing 
unit methods against 2010 Census results. (These results were publicly 
released on the Census Bureau's Web site).
    It was clear that the best overall and defensible approach to 
estimation of county-level governmental units was through the ADREC 
method. In addition, it also became clear that the employment of a 
variation on the housing unit based method generally produced estimates 
that were more biased than the ADREC method when compared to the 2010 
Census results. The evaluations also did not identify a clear-cut means 
to determine for any given county or equivalent when a housing unit 
based method would yield a more accurate estimate than that produced by 
the ADREC method. Given these factors, it became evident that in

[[Page 257]]

redesigning the challenge program, the Census Bureau needed to build a 
process that would capture the most accurate demographic components 
that were consistent and complementary with the existing estimates 
program methodologies. The Census Bureau did not accept the assertion 
from the commenter that the Census Bureau should accept alternative 
methods with a provision for testing against decennial census results. 
However, the Census Bureau has indicated its willingness to work with 
localities through the FSCPE member agencies to provide information 
towards the next round of evaluative studies. Please see Response to 
Commenter 1.
    Commenter 4. The commenter provided essentially the same 
observation as the second commenter with regard to the representation 
for non-functioning counties or statistical equivalents.
    Response 4. The Census Bureau concurs with the fourth commenter. 
Please see Response to Commenter 2.
    Commenter 5. The commenter supports the rule change from reliance 
upon alternative estimates to a process whereby governmental units 
provide evidence of the use of incorrect data, processes, or 
calculations in the estimates and not necessarily alternative 
estimates. The commenter expressed concern for the potential of a 
challenge to be denied because a full explication of the criteria, 
standards, and regular processes the Census Bureau employs to generate 
the population estimates was not available in the notice. Therefore, 
the commenter requested that the Census Bureau recognize an advisory 
role to the Census Bureau by the FSCPE member agencies to ``to gauge 
how well the challenge and estimates program complement each other.'' 
The commenter also requested that outside experts like the FSCPE member 
agencies be provided with all communications between the Census Bureau 
and the challenging governmental unit, suggested that the FSCPE member 
agencies could advise the Census Bureau on changes in either the 
Estimates or the Challenge program, as they have excellent knowledge of 
the estimates process and can represent the interests of local 
governmental units.
    Response 5. The Census Bureau appreciates the expression of support 
for the new challenge program. As stated in the responses to other 
comments, the Census Bureau will appropriately consult with the FSCPE 
member agencies during the course of the program.
    Commenter 6. The commenter was concerned about the lack of 
representation for non-functioning county-level entities. The commenter 
also requested that we continue to accept housing conversion data for 
non-residential to residential use and accept locally documented data 
on demolitions.
    Response 6. The Census Bureau concurs with the sixth commenter on 
the issue of non-functioning county-level entities. Please see Response 
to Commenter 2. In response to the second concern about conversions of 
non-residential to residential units and demolitions, the Census Bureau 
will continue to accept properly documented data, including basic 
street address and unit (apartment, etc.) designations of the converted 
units. Data that are to substitute or replace the Census Bureau 
estimated housing loss figures must include residential housing 
condemnations, demolitions, and/or units that are uninhabitable, in 
order to be as comprehensive in scope as the original survey data used 
to estimate housing loss.
    Commenter 7. The commenter is opposed to the exclusion of housing 
based methods to estimate county-level governmental units. The 
commenter would like the Census Bureau to continue to leave open the 
option for a challenging county-level governmental unit to provide a 
housing based alternative as opposed to providing updated data for the 
Census Bureau's cohort component (ADREC) based estimate. The writer 
also expressed the view ``that the proposed policy flies in the face of 
all available scientific evidence as well as good judgment.''
    Response 7. The Census Bureau consulted a variety of stakeholders 
on the elements of the proposal in order to design a program based upon 
the evaluation research conducted during the 2010 Census. The research 
conducted jointly by the Census Bureau and its partners in the FSCPE 
pointed to the overall accuracy of the ADREC method when compared to 
the 2010 Census results. However, as stated in the third response, the 
research evaluations also did not identify a clear-cut means to 
determine for any given county or equivalent when a housing based 
method would yield a more accurate estimate than that produced by the 
ADREC method. The Census Bureau has designed a program with guiding 
principles to govern outcomes more consistent with the current 
evaluation results. The Census Bureau also will continue to conduct 
research work with the FSCPE and others towards the next evaluation 
period to improve upon the challenge and estimates programs and, if 
possible, to determine means to identify alternate approaches to the 
current estimates that are based upon systematically identifiable and 
unbiased criteria.
    Commenter 8. The eighth commenter suggested that the Census Bureau 
clarify in its challenge program documentation that the FSCPE member 
agencies be specified as a potential technical resource to localities 
that are contemplating challenging a population estimate. The second 
point from this commenter was that the challenge program from the 
previous decade added approximately 770,000 people to the national 
estimate. In addition, the commenter suggested that the Bureau look at 
a threshold based on the estimates evaluation research that would allow 
an estimate challenge using other data and methods, specifically the 
housing estimate, if the difference between the two estimates exceeded 
that threshold. Finally, the commenter suggested that the Census Bureau 
engage the FSCPE member agencies as technical experts in reviewing a 
challenge and/or another state agency that may have expertise to help 
review the alternative estimate.
    Response 8. The Census Bureau concurs with the first suggestion 
that we incorporate into the program documentation that FSCPE member 
agencies could assist a locality in mounting a challenge. In regard to 
the second point, we note that the additional population incorporated 
into the national total did not systematically address the error of 
closure between the 2000 and the 2010 Census nor did it address 
shortfalls in the identification of immigration, therefore, it cannot 
be judged as a positive aspect of the former challenge program to 
emulate. The third suggestion is one that we will consider as part of 
the ongoing research agenda with the FSCPE member agencies and others, 
but not to produce an official revised estimate to replace the ADREC 
method results. The Census Bureau also accepts the suggestion that the 
FSCPE member agencies also be consulted to assist in evaluating 
challenges from their respective sub-state governments. This is 
substantially the same response as that to the fifth commenter.

Changes From Proposed Rule

    As commenters noted in their comments, the proposed rule made no 
provision for representation of counties in selected states of the 
Northeast that do not serve legally as functioning general-purpose 
governmental units. In such instances, no functioning county-level 
governmental body exists to represent the area. The commenters 
requested that the Census Bureau

[[Page 258]]

provide for some flexibility in the rule in order to allow State-level 
representation of these non-functioning counties with regard to the 
population estimates and the components. The Census Bureau acknowledged 
the issue, noted that it also existed for some parts of Alaska, and 
agreed to implement appropriate wording changes to define a role for 
States to represent these non-functioning governmental units in the 
challenge program. Specifically, the Census Bureau added a new 
definition for the term non-functioning governmental units at paragraph 
(f) to Section Sec.  90.3, and re-designated the language formerly at 
paragraph (f) in new paragraph (g). Paragraph (g) also acknowledges 
non-functioning governmental units as an eligible governmental unit for 
the purposes of the challenge program. The Census Bureau also revised 
Section Sec.  90.5 to acknowledge non-functioning governmental units.

Summary of Provisions Implemented by This Final Rule

    The Census Bureau is resuming the Population Estimates Challenge 
Program to provide governmental units the opportunity to challenge 
population estimates for 2011 and subsequent years. The Census Bureau 
is amending 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 changes to the regulations 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 in Sec.  90.6 is updating 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, governmental units may initiate 
the challenge process after the population estimates are posted on the 
Census Bureau's Internet site (rather than published in the Federal 
Register).
    Section 90.6 reduces 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 ensures that, in most instances, the 
Census Bureau reviews and incorporates accepted data into subsequent 
estimates releases in a timely manner.
    Section 90.8 specifies 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. The 
Census Bureau will provide additional Web-based information describing 
the data that are required and how the governmental unit may contact 
the Census Bureau. Section Sec.  90.8 specifies what methods can be 
used in the challenge process.
    Section 90.9 specifies 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, new Sec.  90.5 specifies who may file a request for a 
challenge to a population estimate. Under the revised regulations, the 
chief executive officer or highest elected official of the requesting 
governmental unit is the only individual authorized to submit such 
requests. This change ensures 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 revises all applicable sections of the Population 
Estimates Challenge Program regulations to specify that the sub-state 
governmental units be the sole entity to request a challenge for the 
population estimates for their respective jurisdictions. In the event 
that a county-level governmental unit or statistical equivalent is not 
an active general-purpose government, the FSCPE member agency may serve 
as sponsor of the challenge and the governor will serve as the highest 
elected official. Additional detail on this exception is noted in the 
following paragraph.
    Under the method employed by the Census Bureau, state-level 
population estimates are a summary of the estimates for each county 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, 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 initiates 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 member 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 results. 
Moreover, the Census Bureau provides preliminary governmental unit 
estimates to the FSCPE member agencies for review and comment to 
resolve data processing issues identified during that period. Under the 
challenge program, the FSCPE member agencies, appointed by their 
respective governors, will be eligible to represent counties or 
statistical equivalents that do not function as active general-purpose 
governmental units. This situation exists in Connecticut, Rhode Island, 
for selected counties in Massachusetts, and for the Census Areas in 
Alaska. For the purposes of this program, the District of Columbia is 
treated as a statistical equivalent of a county and, therefore, also 
eligible to participate.
    Existing Sec. Sec.  90.9 through 90.18 are deleted. In the Census 
Bureau's judgment, these sections are unnecessary, as the Population 
Estimates Challenge Program does not include a formal challenge 
process. This change is consistent with the procedures advanced in 
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. Ending the formal process removes a redundant 
procedure and, therefore, enables the

[[Page 259]]

Census Bureau to render a more timely decision during the review and 
update process. The Census Bureau is eliminating all references to the 
per capita income estimates program and the General Revenue Sharing 
Program from its regulations at 15 CFR part 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, section 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, section 2, 94 Stat. 
3516 (1980)), and was not reauthorized for local governments after 
fiscal year 2000 (See Pub. L. 103-322, section 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 is 
eliminating all references to per capita income from the regulations. 
The Census Bureau is changing the titling of the program to reflect the 
fact that the Census Bureau no longer generates per capita income 
estimates previously mandated by law.
    The Census Bureau is making minor technical changes to the 
regulations, such as renumbering sections and heading titles to 
reconcile the changes proposed in this rule. The following chart 
reflects the renumbering of sections and revisions to heading titles, 
with new and revised sections noted in parentheses, for the public's 
convenience:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Former                     Effective February 4, 2013
------------------------------------------------------------------------
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 Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The factual basis for this determination was published in the 
proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received 
regarding the certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility 
analysis was not required and none was prepared.

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 final 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 is 
amending 15 CFR part 90 to read as follows:

PART 90--[AMENDED]

0
1. The authority citation for part 90 continues to read as follows:

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


0
2. Lift the stay on part 90 published at 75 FR 46, Jan. 4, 2010.

0
3. Revise 15 CFR part 90 to read as follows:

PART 90--PROCEDURE FOR CHALLENGING POPULATION ESTIMATES

Sec.
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.


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

[[Page 260]]

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) A non-functioning county or statistical equivalent means a sub-
state entity that does not function as an active general-purpose 
governmental unit. This situation exists in Connecticut, Rhode Island, 
for selected counties in Massachusetts, and for the Census Areas in 
Alaska.
    (g) For the purposes of this program, an eligible governmental unit 
also includes the District of Columbia and non-functioning counties or 
statistical equivalents represented by a FSCPE member agency.


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. In those instances 
where the FSCPE member agency represents a non-functioning county or 
statistical equivalent, the governor will serve as the chief executive 
officer or highest elected official.


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 
after 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.


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.

    (a) 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.
    (b) 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.
    (c) 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, condemned units, uninhabitable units, building permits, or 
mobile home placements or other comparable housing inventory based 
data. The Census Bureau will also consider a challenge based on 
additional information about the group quarters population in a 
locality.
    (d) 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.


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).

    Dated: December 26, 2012.
Thomas L. Mesenbourg, Jr.,
Acting Director, Bureau of the Census.
[FR Doc. 2012-31598 Filed 1-2-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-07-P