The 2011 Census used technology to improve the census operation processes, and more services were contracted out than for the 2001 Census.

The design for the 2011 Census proposed a complex set of integrated systems. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) brought together a consortium of suppliers to help develop these systems. The process of selecting suppliers began in 2005.

Suppliers were selected for three separate procurement activities to collectively provide for all the systems, services and commodities required to carry out the 2011 Census project.

Suppliers of key systems worked with ONS to develop systems and services for the 2007 Census Test, to ready their operations should they be contracted to develop full systems and services for the 2011 Census.

Procurement route A: Data capture and associated services and systems

Two suppliers, Lockheed Martin UK and T-Systems International were short-listed and each awarded a contract to provide services for the 2007 Census Test in May.

Following this test, further performance evaluation of the two short-listed suppliers was carried out, and Lockheed Martin UK was awarded the contract to design and deliver (with ONS and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, NISRA) the 2009 Census Rehearsal and the 2011 Census.

Procurement route B: Additional support services (2007 Census Test)

Services included:

  • recruitment, training and payroll of temporary enumeration staff

  • printing and translation of information leaflets

  • procurement of field supplies for temporary enumeration staff

  • distribution of materials and information leaflets to enumeration staff

  • transportation of census questionnaires

The performance of these additional services was evaluated following the 2007 Census Test. The findings of the evaluation were used to inform the strategy for securing additional support services for the 2011 Census, and to conduct a third procurement exercise (route C).

Procurement route C: Additional support services (2009 Census Rehearsal and 2011 Census)

Following the 2007 Census Test, ONS decided which of the route B services would be procured for the 2009 Census Rehearsal and 2011 Census, and which would be delivered by ONS staff.

Route C also included procurement of a postal service provider – Royal Mail – for the delivery of census questionnaires to the public, and the return of completed questionnaires.

Additional information

The service design built on the experience of the 2001 Census, which itself had used more automated methods of collecting and processing data, and purchased more services from contracted suppliers, than any previous census. More about lessons learned from 2001.

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