Written by: Director Robert Groves
Looking over the Internet – both blogs, comments to websites, and emails – I am seeing some misinformation about what individuals must report on the 2010 Census. It might be a good time to remind us all of these requirements.
Article 1, Section 2 of the US Constitution says: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers … The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”
Congress has assigned to the Department of Commerce the responsibility of administering the census. This directive is embodied in Title 13, U.S. Code. Title 13 also specifies that Commerce, through the actions of the Census Bureau, must submit the topics planned for the census three years prior to the next census, and the actual questions two years prior to the next census. These milestones are the manifestations of the congressional direction regarding how the census will be conducted. For the 2010 Census, these actions took place in March 2007 and March 2008, respectively.
The current census has 10 questions, seven of them for each individual in the household. Title 13 includes the law that requires people to respond to the census, and to answer all questions. The idea that the only requirement of the census is to report the number of persons in the household is incorrect. All questions must, by law, be completed by all of us receiving the census form.
If a household reports the number of persons only, the form must be treated as incomplete and the Census Bureau will send a census taker to collect the full information on the form.