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New Zealand

Everyone counts (but not twice)

Stats NZ is confident that duplicate responses to the census can be removed. David Williams reports.

The good people of Palmerston North and Christchurch warned the media last week that they had been mailed two Census letters with different access codes.

“I don’t know if I should use the first one or the second one,” said Cynthia Cooper of Manawatu City. Said news hub.

There may have been some confusion, but reports say Stats NZ has cleared the air.

Households can use either the new access code or the original access code, Stats NZ said.

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The second letter, the Pre-Census Reminder, was surprisingly popular and was sent to 1.4 million households. One of his recipients was Simon Watts, a North Shore MP who was the National Party’s statistical spokesperson.

“The most concerning aspect of this is that it looks like both codes can be used to submit twice, meaning there could be duplicates in the dataset,” Watts told Newsroom.

“This can have serious implications for the integrity of data collected. I need to make sure it couldn’t be sent.”

Stats NZ has confirmed that not only can one person submit twice, but submitting twice is not a violation.

“After someone completes the census, if they use a different access code to log on to the Census website, they can take the census again.

“For privacy reasons, access codes are not linked to previous answers.”

“We encourage the public to complete the census only once.” – Simon Mason

To ensure that people are only counted once, Stats NZ uses what they call a “deduplication process”.

“We have statistical matching methods that give us the confidence to remove duplicate responses and leave authentic and unique answers. Forms have a similar process.”

More reminders will also be sent to those who complete the survey every five years, Mason said.

“We encourage the public to complete the census only once. There are cases.”

Mason explains that it’s designed to contain a different, unique access code each time a census letter is sent or a pack is delivered.

“Each of these codes is private and assigned to a residence. For people’s privacy and security, we provide a new and unique code each time. We send the same code to households with every letter and ensure that the letter is If they get to the wrong house by mistake, they can see household information: the addresses and names of the people who live or stay there.”

Households that do not respond will receive at least two dunning letters. Pre-Census reminders are meant to encourage early action.

“Following the 2022 field testing of the 2023 Census, we have introduced this pre-Census reminder.”

That’s not surprising. Last year’s field tests in Auckland and parts of Tauranga took place during the red light Covid setting, forcing Stats NZ to drop the in-person ‘assist’ portion of the dress rehearsal.

Emphasis on new infringement regime

Stats NZ has confirmed that it is not illegal to complete the census twice. However, not completing it is a violation and carries a fine of up to $500. Stats NZ since 2018 filed 60 lawsuits against the worst criminals.

The Data Statistics Act, which came into effect last August, will allow the issuance of infringement notices in addition to the existing criminal prosecution capabilities.

The fines for each offense have been increased. Failure or refusal to provide data can subject individuals to fines of up to $2000. For other violations such as not following compliance notices, recklessly destroying data, or impersonating a Stats NZ employee, individuals can face fines of up to $5000.

Last year, the Census Commission considered whether to use infringement notices in this year’s Census. However, the idea was rejected (final decision was made by Stats NZ boss Mark Sowden). Introducing a new scheme would be considered “high risk” and would require “significant additional resource allocations that Stats NZ does not currently have”. ”.

Either way, time pressure meant that notifications might not arrive in time.

An argument from the Census Program Committee minutes said, “It seemed like a punitive approach to use against populations where statistics encouraged engagement.”

By 5:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, 1.4 million forms had been returned, Mason. Said RNZMore – 96.7% online. Statistics Minister Deborah Russell was confident that the census would achieve the country’s goal of 90% participation.

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/everybody-counts-but-not-twice-please Everyone counts (but not twice)

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