A Look From the Inside

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

I’m new to the role of Census Bureau Director and new to blogging.

My idea is to use this blog to let you know my thoughts about how the country is doing as we approach this “national ceremony” that occurs every 10 years – the decennial census.

I can’t promise great humor. I can’t guarantee fascinating or gifted writing.

I will tell it like it is, as I see it. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting, as together we all approach April 1, 2010, where each of us have the right and responsibility to return a census questionnaire.

The census is a massive undertaking, with over 1 million employees working to gather information from you and me, to repaint the portrait of America. I’ll try to give you a sense of what that effort looks like from the inside.

Feel free to share my posts with your friends; feel free to comment. It will be more fun for all if we use this blog to have our voices heard.

Stay tuned. I’ll probably have a new post twice a week or so, more when a lot of things are happening.

Director Robert M. Groves

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22 Responses to A Look From the Inside

  1. Lisa W says:

    Looking forward to your perspectives!

  2. Hello Robert,
    I am a public relations and advertising student from Chapman University in Orange, California.
    The 2010 Public Relations Student Society of America Bateman Case Study this year is “2010 Census: Its in Our Hands”. We will develop a program to educate communities on the benefits of participating in the 2010 Census and why each voice matters.
    This means I eat, sleep, breathe all blogs, tweets, Google alerts, releases, and media coverage related to Census 2010.
    But I am most excited about your blog. It’s really cool reading the words from such a highly influential figure such as yourself; makes me feel like I have a foot in the door!
    Happy blogging… you’ll do great. Remember: be authoritative. Be passionate.
    -Janelle Maluenda

  3. Joe Pound says:

    My wife and I will be on the road in our RV come April 1st. We expect to return home around the middle of April.
    We cannot fill out the form unless it’s mailed to us before January 1st as we do not/can not forward our mail as we have no particular residence while we travel.
    How should we handle this situation?
    Thanks, Joe Pound

  4. kev@censusstaff says:

    Joe,
    Census forms will be mailed to the public in mid- to late-March and will not be forwarded by the postal service. It sounds as if you live and sleep at your residence most of the time (and not in your RV). Please fill out and return the census form that will be waiting for you when you return to your residence in mid-April of 2010. Census interviewers will visit places like RV parks around the time of April 1, 2010 to make sure everyone is counted in the census, but they will only collect information from people who do not have a usual residence elsewhere.
    You should be able to find the full answer to this question and any others at the census question and answer center – http://www.census.gov/aboutus/contacts.html.

  5. Lois Robblee says:

    This is a comment about the ACS the census bureau is conducting this year. It seems curious to me that there are no comments on this blog about it. I am writing on behalf of a friend who does not have a computer to read up on the ACS. She received the questionnaire, has serious concerns about the invasion of privacy of so many personal questions, thought it might be a scam, and has asked several persons in her local government about it, and no one even heard about it. This included the Atty. General’s office in MA. She feels that many of these questions fall into the category of “no one’s business but hers”, but is worried about receiving a fine, or being jailed if she refuses to complete it. She has also received so many phone calls she feels she is being harassed.

  6. kev@censusstaff says:

    Lois,
    Individuals who received the so-called “long form” during Census 2000 would recognize the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is simply a new way of collecting the same detailed socioeconomic and housing characteristics data that have been part of the census for decades and, in some cases even, centuries. Unlike the old long form, the ACS is an ongoing survey; data are collected throughout the year and throughout the decade.
    About 19 million households received the long form in 2000; about 3 million receive the ACS annually. Collecting the data throughout the decade allows for the release of updated statistics annually. Without the ACS, policymakers and others who require data for informed decisionmaking would have to rely on data that is years out of date. As part of the official census, the ACS is mandatory — even if you are one of the relatively few households that receives the ACS in 2010.

  7. MARCIA BARD says:

    WELL DR. GROVES, WAS IT YOUR DECISION TO DROP ‘ACORN’ AS HIRES & IF SO, WHAT ABOUT ALL THEIR OTHER BRANCHES? HAVE YOU DONE ANY RESEARCH INTO THAT OR HOW DO YOU REALLY KNOW WHO THESE CENSUS TAKERS ARE? IF YOU TRUSTED THAT UN-AMERICAN GROUP ONCE, HOW CAN WE TRUST YOU TO NOT FALL INTO THE TRAP AGAIN?!
    ‘ACORN’ HAD BEEN EXPOSED LONG BEFORE OBAMA BECAME PRES. DIDN’T YOU EVER HEAR OF THEIR UN-AMERICAN & ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES? IT WASN’T UNTIL THEY WERE OUTED ON TV THAT THE CENSUS BUREAU DROPPED THEM & CONGRESS, SUPPOSEDLY, CUT BACK ON THEIR FUNDING. FOR ‘ACORN’ TO HAVE BEEN PUT INTO SUCH A CRITICAL ROLE OF GATHERING STATISTICS ON AMERICANS, AND PUBLICLY DENOUNCED (BUT NOT JAILED) FOR SKEWING THE VOTES IN 14 DIFFERENT STATES, GIVE ME LITTLE CONFIDENCE AS TO THE PRIVACY OF THE 2010 CENSUS. IT ACTUALLY SCARES THE ** OUT OF ME & IT SHOULD SCARE THE ** OUT OF YOU, DR. GROVES!
    YOU TALK A STRAIGHT GAME, ARE YOU PLAYING ONE?
    THIS CRITICISM IS SINCERE & I WOULD APPRECIATE A REPLY.
    THANKS

  8. Brian S. says:

    I have a quick question abuot the census. Why is there a $500 fine if somone dosn’t answer the questioanre? I mean it’s only a 5 minute deal, and I realize that it costs the governemnt money for a man to go to somebodie’s house and to ask them the questions, but I mean $500. To me that’s a little to much money to fine someone for not filling out a questionair.

  9. kev@censusstaff says:

    Brian,
    While the law makes it a crime not to answer the decennial census, the American Community Survey and other mandatory censuses and surveys, authorizing the courts to impose a fine of up to $5,000 for failure to respond, we view this approach as a last resort.
    Rather than seek the imposition of penalties, we encourage response by explaining the importance of the questions asked and how the information benefits the community. It is our experience that most people will respond once they understand the significance of their participation.

  10. Jennifer P says:

    I believe that there should be a penalty for not taking part in the census. Not only will it hurt yourself if you don’t answer the simple questions on a survey that might take 5 minutes, it will hurt your family, friends and neighborhood. Fining will defiantly give the people of the country incentive to fill out the survey but I still have one question: how is the Census Bureau going to account for all of the homeless people? Living in New York and having been to Manhattan plenty of times, I assure you that there are more homeless people living in one city than you can imagine. I can also promise you that no one will account for the smelly man that lives on the corner of their apartment building while filling the census out. So if I can only imagine how many people are living homeless in NYC, how many other people are living homeless in other cities? How will the census reach them?

  11. Sean C says:

    After reading the majority of the information on this website, I feel sufficiently informed about the census, although I do have a few questions. I understand that non-citizens are counted through the census, but what about the homeless population? Also, is the census distributed to every household in English, or in multiple languages? If the census is only distributed in a limited amount of languages, what would occur if somebody cannot understand the form? And finally, are the field representatives multilingual?

  12. kev@censusstaff says:

    Marcia,
    The Census Bureau will be partnering with many organizations as we approach the enormous challenge of mobilizing the entire country to participate in the 2010 Census. Partners include Catholic Charities, Univision, Telemundo, BET, Marathon Oil, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Blind Veterans Associations, the American Statistical Association, Goodwill Industries, Target Stores, and even Western Union, to name just a few. We expect to have more than 100,000 partners overall. Many of these organizations have strong ties to traditionally undercounted populations. They are especially helpful in encouraging groups such as the poor, the linguistically isolated, or new immigrants to mail back the census forms and cooperate with enumerators. They know their local conditions and circumstances, and they can help to expand participation.
    The agreements we sign with our partner organizations are informal commitments that they make to raise awareness about the census and encourage their members or customers to fully participate. The Census Bureau does not provide payments or grants to partner organizations.
    We are now discussing with our partners how to leverage their unique capabilities to help achieve the Constitutional mandate to conduct an enumeration. The Census Bureau will carry out this mandate by counting everyone living in the United States once, only once, and in the right place. They will not be recruiting or hiring census employees, providing questionnaire assistance centers, or helping people respond to the census.
    2010 Census partners are not Census Bureau employees, and they have no responsibility for collecting or processing census data.
    Our Partnership Program combines the strengths of state, local, and tribal governments, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, schools, media, businesses, and others to ensure an accurate 2010 Census. Our partners carry the message to members of their communities that participating in the census is important, it is safe, and it is essential to serving local needs.

  13. Jan Lewis, RA says:

    I am a Recruiting Assistant in the great expanse of Wyoming. Thursday I will be the invited speaker to our Evanston Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon. I am proud to be an American and happy to participate in the 2010 Census efforts.
    All the online information is valuable to anyone who wants to know more about this procedure we perform every 10 years.

  14. Gino Siller says:

    I think that for all the benefits that we get from living in this country, it won’t hurt to help the Government answer a few questions. However, I must say, I’m 27 now, and I never remember being part of the census. Never been approached, and don’t remember receiving anything in the mail. Is it that easy to be overlooked?

  15. Jeff says:

    I agree Marcia! I do not trust the government and WILL NOT answer my Census form!

  16. Mary says:

    I understand that the Census Bureau will turn over the 2010 census to a “Shredding Company”, and that all the census forms will be destroyed. As a long-time genalogist this is absolutely horrible, if true. Census records are a valuable resource for decendents of our citizens. To destroy any of them is a crime. Please rethink this decision.

  17. victor says:

    USA, still dividing the citizens by race in 2010. Why are we not all equally counted as citizens of the USA.

  18. Thomas White says:

    With the state of our economy and the fiscal constraints that should be imposed, I cannot believe that you paid the postage to warn people that the 2010 Census was soon to arrive. Counting active duty and federal civil service, I have 42 years working for the government and that is one of the greatest wastes of money I’ve seen. I personally can figure that I should mail the Census back to you and could just as easily read the Internet address from the real Census literature.

  19. leeka73@yahoo.com says:

    I misplaced my form so am unable to get it sent in. Is there a way to get a new form?

  20. Leeka73,
    If you lost or misplaced your form, call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Center at 1-866-872-6868. (If you prefer a Spanish-speaking operator, then dial 1-866-928-2010.) The lines will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (your local time) seven days a week from February 25, 2010 through July 31, 2010. For the hearing-impaired, TDD 1-866-783-2010 (during the times noted above).

  21. Sandy H. says:

    For what kinds of “statistical purposes” are names and birthdates NECESSARY??
    How does having names and birthdates POSSIBLY “…help each community get its fair share of government funds…” OR “…benefit the community”??

  22. Sandy H,
    Federal state and local governments need data about age to interpret most social and economic characteristic such as forecasting the number of people eligible for social security and Medicare. The data is also widely used for planning and evaluating government policies and programs that provide funding and services for children, working age adults, women of childbearing age or the older population.
    Your phone is collected in case the information provided on the form is incomplete– it’s a lot less expensive to make a phone call than to send someone to a house.

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