Given public interest in the records accumulated during Census 2010, we are making the 2010 Census Records Schedule and the accompanying NARA appraisal of the records available for review and comment. An earlier discussion about the issues surrounding the appraisal process and the 2010 Census records appeared on this blog in May. The schedule lists the records created and accumulated during Census 2010 and provides proposed standards for their disposition. If the records are proposed for permanent retention, the schedule contains instructions for their transfer to the National Archives for safekeeping and preservation. If the records are proposed for temporary retention, the schedule contains instructions for their disposal after expiration of a retention period. The appraisal report reflects a careful and considered judgment of the value of each records series or electronic system for historical and other research purposes.
The schedule contains proposed disposition standards for 66 record series or electronic systems. Twenty-one of these are proposed for permanent retention. Among the records designated for preservation are the following: scanned images of respondent census forms, the Individual Census Record File containing response data and linkage information to the scanned images, summary data files that provide population totals and counts of population characteristics sorted at a variety of geographic levels, a public use microdata sample file providing demographic, social, economic, and housing data for a sample of the population, record set of publications, studies and reports, and geographic products and outputs, including maps showing boundaries and names of geographic areas covered by the census and thematic maps illustrating the distribution of population characteristics. The executive summary in the appraisal report references the specific sections of the schedule covering these records. The “additional background” section of the report, which follows the executive summary, helps explain how the schedule is organized and the approach taken in determining the value of the records.
The schedule and appraisal are products of an ongoing collaboration between the NARA and the Census Bureau that aims to effectively manage the records of Census 2010. The schedule identifies as permanent those records with ongoing value for historical and other research purposes and provides instructions for their transfer to the National Archives. The retention standards also provide for records management economies, helping ensure the prompt disposal of temporary records as soon as they are no longer needed for business and administrative purposes. NARA and the Census Bureau are also collaborating on needed arrangements for the transfer of the permanent records once the schedule is approved. Among the first records to be transferred will be the voluminous scanned images of respondent census forms from Census 2010, which must be safeguarded and preserved for 72 years before being made publicly available in 2082.
Notice of the 2010 Census Records Schedule has also appeared in the Federal Register of November 30, 2010. The direct link to the notice concerning the 2010 Census records schedule is available here. As the guidance outlined in that notice provides the public 30 days in which to request copies of the schedule and accompanying appraisal, we will accept and respond to comments and questions posted to this blog through December 30, 2010.
Update: Below are links to .pdf documents of both the Census 2010 records schedule and our appraisal report.