Leaving Questionnaires at The Doors

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

For about 12 million households in the US, in those areas where traditional mailing addresses may not be useful, we hand deliver questionnaires in bright white plastic bags (see my blog entry, “Update Leave”).

That operation started on March 1, and we’re ahead of schedule and below budget on the work. It is largely finished.

We had some problems in some of the areas now experiencing flooding. There are also some still-closed roads in the snow-covered mountains of the West that prevented delivery. However, the vast majority of those forms have been delivered.

One of the areas of great focus by us is the Gulf Coast, affected by the hurricanes. We did much more hand-delivery in these areas than was true in Census 2000.

Please submit any questions pertaining to this post to ask.census.gov

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67 Responses to Leaving Questionnaires at The Doors

  1. NY household says:

    seems to me that you could save some money by NOT sending out SO MANY post cards…geesh!! i rec’d 3 1 b4 i sent in my census and 2 since…

  2. We have extensive research that shows additional mailings alerting households to the arrival of the census form increase response rates by about 6 to 12 percentage points. The savings from that increase more than pay for these mailings. It costs about $85 million to print and mail the advance letter and reminder postcard. The potential increase in response rates demonstrated by our research could result in a savings of more than $500 million.

  3. Kathi says:

    HOW MUCH money is being spent on this?
    I was just in the post office in my town and
    there are several items laying there to pick up or take with
    This amount of waste is shameful

  4. fishnfowl@cox.net says:

    i received a letter stating i would be getting a census form,i did,and filled it in and put it in the next days mail,today i receive a post card reminding me to send it back.that typifies our governments waste of time and money.most of those questions could easily be found searching other data bases.use some creative thinking,use the high paid employees you already have to create a up to date manner is counting our citizens.this way is archaic.

  5. PhotoFinishInvestors says:

    Here it is March 22 and I have received a postcard chiding me for not returning the Census form about events yet to happen on April 1st. If I complete the form with information before April 1st, and it turns out to be false, I am warned that I will be subject to a $500 fine. Wouldn’t it make more sense to complete the form on April 2nd about events of the previous day?

  6. sherwin collins says:

    With all the mailers (including post cards), media, etc. why isn’t the fact that this census is required by the U.S. Constitution mentioned more. Wouldn’t that help get more people complete and return the form if that were a focal point of the message?

  7. Tammy says:

    I received a card today asking me to complete my census in which they hand delivered to my home. I have not received a census so I called the toll free number on the card and of course the only thing I could speak to was an automated recording.
    It seems the person they paid to deliver my census didn’t do their job!

  8. Helen says:

    I think someone is wasting money. Why would you spend a million to notify everyone in the states that they are going to receive a census form, when you are already throwing more money into TV and radio commercials. Then spend a million on follow up prior to the deadline?? These 2 posting must have cost at least 3 million out of the 14 million for the census. We are already in the hole, why don’t we dig it deeper?? I mean you are going to spend I don’t know how much on more followups and sending persons out to knock on doors – 3 million is a lot of dough that could have been spent to a better advantage. This is my tax $$$ at work????

  9. debi green says:

    We have a perfectly good mailbox on the street where our form could’ve been put into; however, one of these ‘white bags’ was left on our door with our two puppies, a german shepherd and a lab sitting right by. So what condition do you think the bag was in when we got home? This same person did the same thing to our neighbor’s house. Their form was blown down the road. We live in the country… out in the woods, but what was wrong with our mailbox? Now, I try to get another form mailed… the phone number listed is a phone tree, and I can’t get to ‘a person.’ This system is unbelieveable. By the way, I live in Alabama. Now I know why Alabama is not accurately represented.

  10. Frank says:

    How can I follow the instruction to “complete and mail today” when the form asks for the data as of April 1? I will complete and mail when I can properly and with full knowledge of the facts.

  11. Backwards or Progressive says:

    I saw the 2010 Census message on CNN. It seemed like a pretty simple form as explained on television… but when I saw the form I was actually kind of upset. They said there would be no personally identifable information yet I am giving the names of everyone in my household to include dates of birth/age, telephone number and “race”?
    First, in an age where people can take your name and date of birth and steal your identity… I don’t think I’m very comfortable with mailing a form with personally identifiable information blatantly on it, to include my child’s information. Is the census bureau unaware of Personally Identifiable Information (PII)? PII can be defined as information that can be used to uniquely identify, contact, or locate a single person or can be used with other sources to uniquely identify a single individual. Wouldn’t taking someone’s name, date of birth, age and telephone number, be giving out PII – regardless of the “protections” afforded by law?
    Second, shouldn’t the census bureau use more cultural relativity and ask what ethnicity you are rather than asking what “race” you are? Wouldn’t our race be “human”? Additionally, what if you are of mixed heritage or ethnicities? What would you mark? If I put in other, “American”, would I be wrong?
    AND the questions don’t seem to match the intent as posted on the website. Maybe I’m just thinking too hard about this… but I can’t help but think that the Census Bureau is behind the times, wasting money and even if the numbers do compute regarding the unlikelihood of identity theft… how should I respond when I’ve been a victim of identity theft already?

  12. Lee Habich says:

    Can you clarify something? If there is no traditional “at home” mail delivery in a town by the Post Office and, as a result, 90% or more of the residents have mail boxes at the Post Office where all their mail is delivered, should that community be included in “Update and Leave”?
    If not, why not?

  13. stella iliopoulos says:

    i need to cntact the 2010 census.
    sincerely,
    stella iliopoulos

  14. Sara says:

    I’m very disappointed that our US Government does not consider Mexican/Latino a race. I am half Mexican and consider myself a Latina by Race. What does Race even matter then for the Census if they’re not going to be technical? I am very offended by that. I had to flip the coin and put White. Apparently Pacific Islanders and any other specific ethnicity is fine as a Race as long as we don’t count those Latinos.

  15. Sara,
    The Census Bureau collects race data as guided by the OMB statistical policy directive #15. OMB defines these guidelines for consistency across federal programs. The collection of race and Hispanic origin data is important and required. The Census Bureau collects race and Hispanic origin information in order to provide data required by various federal programs, laws and regulations.

  16. Brian Sullivan says:

    I filled my questionaire out the same day and mailed it back. Today I get a notice saying ITS AGAINST THE LAW NOT TO FILL THIS OUT. Don’t threaten me with that shit.It’s not against the law . Piss off I’ll never fill one out again. Thanks

  17. America 2.0 says:

    Please do not believe that your private info will remain private. With a stroke of a pen bu Obama or congressional vote, all your info can and WILL be given to the IRS and HHS and others. Our government does not follow the laws and will change them as we fall deeper into socialism or worst.

  18. brian says:

    Cuz half the Mexicans in this country are illegal they dont want to count people that arent supposed to be here.

  19. America 2.0,
    By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ individually identifiable answers with anyone including tribal housing authorities, other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. All Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.
    The Census Bureau is transparent about the measures it takes to respect privacy and protect confidentiality. The public can find information about data stewardship on the Census Bureau’s Web site (http://www.census.gov/privacy/). Questions or concerns about the Census Bureau’s protections can be directed to Dir.Privacy.Office@census.gov,

  20. Clem D says:

    Just got your latest “reminder” (3/22/10). Telling me to complete and mail my form if not done already. Unfortunately my time machine is malfuctioning and I am stuck in the present. Great of you (via me a taxpayer) to waste money on the Post Office “bailout”.
    It was also thoughtful of you to include a website address that points to a non existint page.
    It would give people more confidence if you knew your own web address and the date referenced by your own “questionaire” then sent and worded mailings properly..

  21. Brian,
    The Census Bureau counts everyone living in the United States.

  22. Brian,
    Complete responses to all questions are required by law.

  23. Please return the form upon receipt. April 1, is a reference date.

  24. David Brant says:

    I am kind of bummed out that we can’t request a replacement form via the web; at least, if we can, I can’t find a link anywhere that would allow me to do this.
    I’ve called one of your contact centers and ironically they say they can’t help me without the form number, which strangely enough is on the form I never received. Kind of a Catch-22 moment, wouldn’t you say?

  25. R Barker says:

    I sent in our census form right away, the comment I want to make is that I think it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money to keep receiving notices. And the notice that tells us we will be getting our census form in the mail and to watch for it…another waste!

  26. D J Sweet says:

    The above comments pretty well describe my feelings. You apparently have more money to help bail out the Post Office than common sense. My response to the census may not have been received yet by “snail mail”.

  27. NY resident with half a brain says:

    Exactly! I got the same card today and it made me furious! The census asks for information about your household as of April 1, so one would assume you’re supposed to wait until April 1 to mail it. A baby could have been born right after you mailed it before April 1, or you could be dead by April 1 and if you had mailed it when you received it in March, then it wouldn’t be accurate, would it? This is so typical of the waste that goes on in Washington. No wonder we’re in so much debt.

  28. Clem D says:

    Ah Ha, just read an earlier reply that “As of April 1 2010″ …… preceeding questions on the census form is now called a “reference date”. Could the words not have been “As of today”…. ; before you originated the phrase “reference date” and threatened people about “false answers”? Maybe not even put any “reference date” at all.? You really need to stop with threats and simply ask what is required in clear understandable language! You have 10 years to improve now, use the time wisely.

  29. NY Household with half a brain says:

    Why did they send reminder cards on 3/22??? The census asks for information about your household as of April 1, so one would assume you’re supposed to wait until April 1 to mail it. A baby could have been born right after you mailed it before April 1, or you could be dead by April 1 and if you had mailed it when you received it in March, then it wouldn’t be accurate, would it? This is so typical of the waste that goes on in Washington. No wonder we’re in so much debt.

  30. Angel Taylor says:

    I am a 30 year old African American female. I was filling out my census form when I got to my race it stated black, african american, or negro. I am not a NEGRO! Why are African Americans still being referred to as NEGROS?

  31. A. Etheridge says:

    Let me add my voice to some of the above complaints: I received a post card announcing I would be getting a census form. I got a post card telling me I had received a census form. I just got a third post card telling me the same thing again. How many more of these cards are coming? Let’s see – at least 3 post cards x all the households in the USA? Was this really necessary? I’m happy to fill out the form, but how much of the tax payers’ money was wasted on these multiple mailings of silly post cards at a time when we are in such a financial hole even our grandchildren will have trouble digging out?

  32. Sara says:

    The Census clearly stated that Hispanic/Latino is not considered a race. My father is a legal citizen, went through the rigmarole of becoming a citizen when I was a small girl. I am a naturally born citizen. It is very disturbing to me that the race I am very proud to be a part of is not considered, apparently, by policy directive #15 as a valid race. Seems to me that is preying quite a bit on the overwhelmingly large amount of US citizens like me who happen to be also half white to boost the white numbers in the Census outcome.

  33. spotts says:

    I don’t see how any of these questions are relevant. I am only answering the first questions, that way you know how many live in my household, other than that, I refuse to answer. None of the questions relate to anything about me.

  34. Shirley E says:

    I received my form and completed it. Where are the questions about education, occupation, etc., for EEO demographics that companies with EEO plans are required to use?

  35. Shirley,
    This information is now collected in the American Community Survey, which provides this important data annually. Please see http://www.census.gov/acs/www/ for more information.

  36. spotts,
    Complete responses to all questions are required by law. Household’s who return incomplete forms will be visited.

  37. David,
    Please call our questionnaire assistance center at 1.866.872.6868

  38. NY Household,
    We have found that households are more likely to return their form if they fill it out upon receipt. Every percentage point increased saves us $85 million. April 1, is a reference date.

  39. We have found that households are more likely to return their form if they fill it out upon receipt. Every percentage point increased saves us $85 million. April 1, is a reference date. We also ask that you fill out the form for the residence in which you live most of the year, even if that is not where you will be on April 1.

  40. We have found that households are more likely to return their form if they fill it out upon receipt. Every percentage point increased saves us $85 million. You are also expected to answer the census for the residence you live most of the time. April 1, is a reference date. We also ask that you fill out the form for the residence in which you live most of the year, even if that is not where you will be on April 1.

  41. Kate says:

    Explain: “Every percentage point increased saves us $85 million. ”

  42. sandi says:

    I live in an area where many people, either by choice or postal requirement, have their mail delivered to a PO Box. None of my friends with PO Boxes have received a census by any means (nor the “it’s coming” or “did you do it yet” postcards). Everyone I know who receives their mail in a traditional mailbox has received one. Don’t the people with PO Boxes count? It’s not just one town, I have spoken to people with Boxes in three different zip codes!

  43. For every household that does not return a form we are required to send an worker to get the information. It costs about .42 to mail in the form, it cost $57 for wages, gas etc to send a worker to your door.

  44. Sandi,
    People without traditional mailing addresses will be visited in person by a census worker.

  45. Kate says:

    First class mail is .44. Where are you getting .42 from?

  46. Kate,
    It was discounted to .42

  47. Jeff says:

    Hey Bri! See how many people are mad about the Census? See how angry a LOT of people are right now? The current administration has divided our country. I predict this will be a VERY low count this year! Hope it is!

  48. Jeff says:

    Great! Lets send money to States who have the most Illegal aliens! That’s a great idea! Our tax dollars at work!

  49. Jeff says:

    Ya! We know Bri! You have said that several times!

  50. privacy says:

    no online form? shame on you. just keep spending. this is a great economy and you shouldn’t need to identify best practices. shame. on. you.

  51. T. Augie says:

    The same thing happened to me!!! I received two notifications and NO Census. I called the number and the only option was to help me fill it out and an automated message to call back in two weeks if I don’t have my 20 digit control number??? Okay that number should be on the postcard and welcome letter I received. There should be something on the website to request a lost form. If they sent a reminder they should know they don’t have it.

  52. Annoyed says:

    Ok so I come on here to find out where to get one of these lil nasties. And no help. It’s insane how the CB relies on ppl to hand out these envelopes door to door. I have been waiting for mine for 2 weeks. I live on a new road that has 10 houses. Only 4 of my neighbors got them and the 2 houses still under construction had them as well. They for one were not in a plastic bag. They were slipped in the frame of the door, which….was very stupid. We live on a hill and in a area of the state that is very windy. So more money wasted by sending ppl here to hand deliver them. I’m assuming mine got blown away or everyone on my side got ignored. And still, the houses under construction got them? That makes no sense at all….it is plain clear no one lives there and will not move in by deadline. So I will have to waste more tax payers $ to have someone come out here in May when we will not be here.
    I will just say…2 kids, me and my soon to be deployed for the 6th time husband. There’s my contribution.

  53. If you have not received a form by April 12th call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Center at 1-866-872-6868 or you can pick one up at a be counted site. http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/

  54. Annoyed says:

    Lovely….have to drive 23 miles one way to get one. How convenient. I will just wait and call….if I can remember by then. I have more important things to worry about.

  55. Be realistic says:

    Jeff,
    That is not very nice. Not only is it all of our money they have to spend in follow up, but in fact, wishing to not get a full count is like wishing that an ambulance service can’t get around it’s community fast enough because there is not enough staff. Or wishing for a bridge to collapse and people to die because there was no money. Or wishing for everyone who depends on Medicare and Medicaid to not get covered. I hope you’re proud of yourself!

  56. enumerator says:

    it is against the law for anything to be put into your mailbox which is not delivered by the USPS. Enumerators do try to put the hand delivered forms in a safe place, obviously, but things can happen. You will be contacted by someone after April 1st with another Census questionnaire.

  57. Jeff says:

    I could care less if it cost $1000 to send somebody to my house! That is a drop in the bucket compared to the BILLIONS the Government waste on the Census!

  58. Wolf Conover says:

    Mar 30, 2010.
    What are we hillbillies here in Hamilton Co, NY? Chopped Liver? We have a nice shiny mailbox and a door knob, but haven’t seen a questionnaire or an advance notice card to date?
    Is this another government screw-up?

  59. Amit Aggarwal says:

    what if somebody loose his form. how can he get another copy for the form?

  60. Jeff says:

    Bri,
    We both know that the Census Bureau is not going to fine anybody. Quit trying to scare people. You don’t scare me!

  61. Jeff says:

    Bri,
    Is it $57 every time they come and I don’t answer the door? I hope so!

  62. Jeff says:

    R Barker,
    And this surprises you? The Census Bureau is part of the Federal Government! You know! The one who pays thousands of dollars for toilet seats.

  63. Jeff says:

    Bri,
    You can visit my house all you want but the information I gave on m y form is all you are going to get!

  64. Jeff says:

    Annoyed,
    If they are stupid enough to not send you a form then why do you care?

  65. Jeff, Thank you for sharing your concerns. I want to assure you the U.S. Census Bureau takes very seriously its responsibility to protect confidentiality. It is our strong belief that the accuracy of the census depends on the willing participation and cooperation of respondents, therefore, we value respondent trust as vital to the success of the 2010 Census. With respect to your concerns about the Census Bureau’s activities during World War II, as we have indicated in the past, the historical record provides substantial information about the extent to which senior Census Bureau staff assisted the Army in the internment of Japanese-Americans. The Census Bureau provided non-confidential small-area data tabulations and sent a statistician to assist the Army staff in San Francisco with the internment of the Japanese on the West Coast. The records of both the Census Bureau and the Army located at the National Archives contain examples of and contemporary accounts describing the statistical tabulations. However, it is also important to acknowledge that the records of the Census Bureau from the World War II era indicate that the agency provided confidential microdata to executive departments and agencies, as it was legally required to do to assist the war effort. These releases were sanctioned by law, specifically the Second War Powers Act that was passed by Congress and the President in March of 1942 and was later repealed in 1947. Section 1402 of the Second War Powers Act created an exception to the confidentiality provisions of the Census Law at the time and instructed the Secretary of Commerce to make records (meaning census data) available for the war effort, and an Executive Order established a process to facilitate the release of such data. Upon request, the Census Bureau did supply many agencies with data about both individuals and companies. Examples include information about Japanese families living in Washington, DC that was shared with the Secret Service and data about companies in various industries that was shared with the Office of Price Administration and other agencies. It is important to note that in the post-war period, key safeguards to protect confidential information have been instituted, notably stronger legal provisions to protect data confidentiality. Specifically, Section 9 of Title 13 is clear and unequivocal: The Census Bureau collects information solely for statistical purposes and it cannot release any information that could be used to identify an individual person or business. Only sworn individuals may have access to confidential data, and to disclose such information is a federal crime for which the penalties may be up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Moreover, census data may not be used against any individual by a government agency or court. The confidentiality of the census has been recognized and upheld by the Supreme Court and the Census Bureau is fully committed to safeguarding and protecting the information we collect. It is also clear that over the past half-century, and especially following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the critical importance of summary data for enforcement of voting rights and civil rights stands in contrast to the use of information in the 1940s to deny civil rights to citizens of the United States of Japanese ancestry. For more information about the law and the precautions we take to protect information, please consult the Census Bureau’s Data Protection and Privacy Policy website, http://www.census.gov/privacy/

  66. I consider a person is squandering money. Why would you spend a million to notify all population in the states that they are going to accept a census configuration, when you are now throwing more wealth into video and broadcasting commercials. Then spend a million on chase up earlier to the deadline?? These 2 posting ought have cost a least 3 million out of the 14 million for the census. We are now in the opening, why don’t we delve it deeper?? I intend you are going to spend I don’t recognise how much on more followups and conveying people out to strike on entrances – 3 million is many of dough that could have been paid out to a better advantage. This is my duty $$$ at work????

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