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Making census 2010 a success.

To achieve an accurate assessment of the number and location of the people living in the United States, the U.S. Constitution mandates a census of the population every 10 years. The census population totals determine which states gain or lose representation in Congress, as well as the amount of state and federal funding communities receive over the course of the decade. Data from the 2010 Census will directly affect how more than $4 trillion is allocated to local, state, and tribal governments over the next 10 years. The facts gathered in the census also help shape decisions about issues such as public health, neighborhood improvements, transportation, education, and senior services.

The goal of the 2010 Census is to count all residents living in the United States on April 1, 2010. For the first time since 1930, all U.S. addresses will receive a census short form. To help ensure the nation's increasingly diverse population can answer the questionnaire, about 13 million bilingual Spanish/English forms will be mailed out, and questionnaires in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian--as well as language guides in 59 languages--will be available on request. The U.S. Census Bureau does not ask about the legal status of respondents in any of its surveys and census programs.

By 2010, there will be an estimated 310 million people residing in the United States. Counting each person is one of the largest operations the federal government undertakes. For example, the Census Bureau will recruit nearly 3.8 million applicants for 2010 Census field operations. Of these applicants, the Census Bureau will hire about 1.4 million temporary employees, some of whom will use GPS-equipped handheld computers to update maps and ensure there is an accurate address list for the mailing of the census questionnaires.

One way to help ensure that everyone is counted is to form Complete Count Committees--volunteer teams consisting of community leaders, faith-based groups, schools, businesses, media outlets, and others who are appointed by elected officials and work together to make sure entire communities are counted. For the 2000 census, 11,800 Complete Count Committees were formed. They developed targeted outreach plans specific to their communities to help inform local residents--including populations that have, historically, been hard to reach--about the importance of responding to the census. In part because of these efforts, the response rate for Census 2000 increased for the first time in 30 years, and the undercount of those historically missed was reduced.

In 2010, more of these committees are needed. Complete Count Committees can start now to create awareness within their communities about the upcoming 2010 Census. They can also donate space for testing and training temporary census workers, publicize recruiting efforts, and obtain endorsements from local leaders.

The 2010 Census will have one of the shortest census questionnaires since the first census in 1790. The 2010 Census will ask just name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship, and whether the head of household owns or rents their home. The form will take only about 10 minutes to complete, and answers are protected by law and strictly confidential.

For more information about forming a Complete Count Committee, contact a Census Bureau regional office and ask to speak with a partnership staff member. Staff can supply training materials, timelines, suggested activities, and a committee handbook. For more information, visit the Census Bureau's Web site at and click on "Regional Offices" for contact information.
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Title Annotation:News & Numbers
Publication:Government Finance Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2009
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Next Article:Building a financially resilient government through long-term financial planning.

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