Progress Report, One Week Into Nonresponse Followup

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

We’ve finished the first week of the Nonresponse Followup stage of the 2010 Census.

The enumeration is ongoing in all local census offices; there is variation in progress across the country, as is to be expected. However, the great dedication of our census enumerators is evident. They are wonderful public servants collecting the 2010 Census data.

As of today, we’ve completed about 15% of the nonresponse workload. This is about where we thought we’d be at this point.

To our enumerators, thanks. Everybody keep up the good work!

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43 Responses to Progress Report, One Week Into Nonresponse Followup

  1. Disgusted Citizen says:

    Mr. Groves,
    I hope you receive this feedback, but doubt that it will actually reach you. I believe in the census, filled my form out, and mailed it back in mid to late April. It didn’t help that the return envelope would not fit in the outgoing mail slot for our community’s mailbox. I live in a home, not an apartment, but in many communities mail is no longer picked up at each house. I had to make a trip to the Post Office to mail it back.
    Guess what….I came home yesterday to find a “Notice of Visit” stuck in my door. I called the number on the form and did reach a person who seemed to be the receptionist at the local census office. When I explained that I’d already returned my form in April, she stated that “if I sent the form in after the due date of 4/1, it went into the circular file.” There was no due date on the form. You mean to tell me the government spent millions printing and mailing these, I spent time filling it out, the Post Office spent time delivering them, and your organization THREW THEM AWAY???
    I’m also shocked and disturbed about the assurances that this information is confidential and protected data. Did they SHRED them, or just pitch them in a dumpster somewhere??
    Mr. Groves, I’m done. My career requires that I work more than a 40 hour week, and I’m not home that much. I will not be meeting with a census worker. I’d really like to know what kind of instructions your field offices have been given for handling this confidential data.
    -Disgusted Citizen

  2. Citizen, Thank you for completing the 2010 Census. The reason that you are receiving a visit from a census enumerator is because your residence was added to non-response follow up assignment list that was created prior to your form being processed.
    Second, we take extreme measures to protect the identity of individuals and businesses, starting from the point at which the data are collected and continuing decades after the data are published as aggregate statistics. This includes protecting the addresses of residences and businesses we collect and maintain. 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 (

  3. John Wherry says:

    Dear Mr. Groves,
    How can I be a better an Enumerator if my shifts times do not cover the times that people are at home? In a working class area I have shifts that have me at the home when the people are not there. Some of these people are trashing the notice of visit like junk mail. Can you change the ad spots to help us enumerators by getting the point across to respond to the notices of visit? What can add to the notice of visit note to help us?
    Thanks, John Wherry

  4. John, Contact your Local Census Office regarding this issue.

  5. Brian says:

    To the census worker who talked my minor son out of our home phone number while I was at work: shame on you. Shame on all of you. Your web site says you do not interview minors. You should not be pressuring my son to give you our private phone number. Your “oath of nondisclosure” is worthless — you can bet the census worker will take it back to the office, plug it into their computer system (why doesn’t this count as disclosure?) and I will be robocalled to death. You have no business talking to children and you are not welcome on my property since I cannot trust you to act responsibly.

  6. John Wherry says:

    Dear Mr Groves,
    Can you change the ad spots to help us enumerators by getting the point across to respond to the notices of visit? What can we add to the notice of visit note to help us? I checked the sites that I gave notices of visit and some of them are still there. Can the information ads be changed to let everyone know how to respond to the notices of visit?
    Thanks, John Wherry

  7. Foxy says:

    A smile.

  8. R. Finnemore says:

    I just received a phone call from a census bureau worker. Upon hanging up my phone showed it was from “US Census Bureau”. I did not talk to the person calling. After telling him 3 times I would not give out any information over the phone I told him to send someone to my home.
    My problems with this call include it was 9pm at night and my husband goes to work at 4a.m. Secondly after I told him I would not give out any information on the phone the first time because of scams his response was “You must participate”. His tone and words could be taken as threatening.
    The main reason I was upset by this call is that I did fill out my form and send it in before the due date. Once this was done my understanding was that was all that was asked of me.
    To call me at 9pm and tell me I must participate when I had already filled out the form is astounding. I understand the importance of the census but this is still America and I will not be told by a faceless voice over the phone I must tell them anything.
    If they have a question that is so important why did he just not ask the question. He wanted to know who filled out the form and I said I did. He then proceeded to want my name and who knows what else. He called me so he knew who he was calling.
    If follow up questions are needed they should do as I suggested to him before I hung up…either send me a form in the mail or better yet send a worker with crenditals to my door.
    Sincerely, A Household that already Responded

  9. Disgusted Citizens in Nebraska says:

    Paperwork Project 6067-0946
    Another disgusted citizen…Form was filled out and mailed in long before April 1st. We got a follow-up phone call anyway to verify a supposed “discrepancy” that you needed to verify. The lady we talked to could not tell us what the supposed discrepancy was, but went through the entire list of questions all over again. Why did we bother to fill it out in the first place if we were going to be HARASSED at 9:00 at night with a follow-up phone call repeating all the information that was already filled out? What a total waste of tax payer money? After we verified all information, the lady said that we could contact the census bureau for comments, but it was obvious that she didn’t really want us to because she couldn’t slow down with the information enough for us to write it down.
    I had to keep asking her to slow down. She continued talking as fast as she could and finally got irritated with me and told me to let her know when I had caught up. I have a college degree, my husband has a masters degree, and we didn’t get those because we can’t fill out forms and write down information given in a reasonable manner.
    Disgusted Citizen in Nebraska

  10. John, Speak to your crew leader regarding best practices for completing your assignment.

  11. Tired of Government Incompetence says:

    I’ve finally been able to answer the census questions after a worker left a notice on my door. I waited till this was accomplished instead of obtaining a form on my own because, as the Council President of my community, I felt that I needed to ensure that I knew when this was being performed in my Village. I had to do this because of the bureaucratic incompetence and political infighting between the USPS and the Census Bureau.
    In order to keep the Postmaster General, postmasters, or any other postal worker from interfering with the census taking by returning the census forms (in retaliation for the death of HR 3167 in committee in 2009 I’m sure) as undeliverable for PO Box only communities, include the full nine digit zip code. Of course this wasn’t included on the form so I’m sure that this issue will occur in another 10 years by a different set of incompetent bureaucrats as the post office will complain about lack of funds and the census bureau will spout the same tired bull that it has to be mailed to a physical address while failing to include the full address for that residence.

  12. Tired of Government Incompetence, The Census Bureau is the only federal agency authorized to conduct the census.
    The Census Bureau works closely with the U.S. Postal Service
    (USPS) in many ways. For example, throughout the decade we
    work with them to maintain our master address file, and they deliver questionnaires for most of our surveys and censuses.
    A joint group from the USPS and the Census Bureau examined using mail carriers to collect decennial census data, and the results were documented in a joint report. The findings of that report included that it would not be cost-effective for either the U.S. Postal Service or the Census Bureau for the U.S. Postal Service to administer directly the census field operations. Overall, the cost of letter carriers is much higher than census enumerators, on an average hourly basis, and would significantly increase census costs. Also, the U.S. Postal Service and its letter carriers are not well acquainted with the occupants of residential addresses. Many letter carriers do not actually go door-to-door. Many households receive their mail at central boxes in apartment buildings or in suburban areas. Many other people use postal mailboxes. Finally, its possible legal responsibilities for the
    quality of the data and legal repercussions would be a concern for the U.S. Postal Service.

  13. Brian, Please contact your Local Census Office regarding this issue. You can locate your Local Census Office using this link:

  14. Sam Parsons says:

    A census worker came to my door the other day and I asked to see his identification. He showed me a generic looking badge that could be made at Staples. Could you please send out your enumerators with an official government badge with photo? It does not take much time to create a photo ID.
    It seems as though this part was overlooked.
    Impersonating an enumerator is all too easy for the scammers out there.

  15. Lynn Davis says:

    Hello Census staff,
    Thanks for doing this blog — it’s interesting and mostly informative. I add “Mostly” because your answers of “call your local census office” or “talk to your crew leader” are not meeting your goals. I think your answer an entirely appropriate way of getting a questioner back on home turf, but your point (as I understand it) of creating and maintaining this public content is partly for “transparency,” right? Three choices: delete those questions (and let the public think what they will), continue to tell the questioner to get on home turf–but add that the answer “will likely be” X, Y, or Z– or have that LCO or CL say what ultimately happened.

  16. KaT says:

    Poor Fort Worth TX Enumerators they are not getting paid or are not getting near the amount they should. I am one of the ones who didn’t get a cent. We have been working for 3+ weeks with NO money for gas or anything. I dont feel appreciated at all. It is a very hard job.

  17. Kat says:

    Since we dont get any important information, like ss# or bank info or DL# what are we gonna do with your info? Nothing. You can call the census with our id # and find out who we are.

  18. Sam, Please contact your Local Census Office regarding employment verification of the enumerator that came to your door. You can locate your Local Census Office using this link:

  19. Lynn, We do not want to cause any confusion in the chain-of-command so we advise Census Bureau staff to handle their issues locally. We guide people back to the Local Census Office due to the Local Census Office staff being experts in the community and they understand the standard operating procedures for a complete enumeration.

  20. G. Lewis says:

    I woud love to work for the Census and help complete the non-response forms. However, there has been a MAJOR issue with the background check and I have been terminated! I cannot get anyone to help me. I have proof from a previous crime check that was completed 5 months ago that shows I have no prior criminal record. I know mistakes happen but if someone could straighten this out, I could start work again!! I am going on 2 weeks of not working and this mess up is preventing me from providing income!!! I would love some help!!!!
    Need help in KY!!!!

  21. KaT, Individual complaints can be directed to the Personnel/Payroll Hotline that rings in each RCC administrative area. Each RCC administrative area is staffed to handle calls over the hotline and with voicemail for after hours calls. The nationwide toll free number is 1-877-233-4776. This telephone number is also located in the Employee Handbook that each DAPPS employee receives. The telephone number is found in Chapter 3, Personnel and Payroll.

  22. disillusioned citizen says:

    Helllllllllllooooooooooo People! I am really amazed at the incompetence displayed by the Census Staff from the top all the way down! To start with there were numerous mailings before a person actually received the census. (= $$$$) Next, when you actually got the census it was illiterate! ( How many people “were” living in your home/house/etc. on a certain date that was in the future.) Are we physic? (= more $$$$ because many refused to answer before the actual occurence of that date) Now we get to see how well equipped the enumerators are to handle the job before them. Do y’all think we’re really going to get an accurate count? I think not.

  23. G. Lewis, Please call the Census Background Check Status Line at 1-800-845-8243 regarding your background check issues.

  24. G. Lewis says:

    I HAVE!! Everyday!!! They say someone will call you back and noone has yet to call me!!! Its been over a week!!!

  25. Sue says:

    Like many others who have posted here, yesterday, the Census guy came to my house. Yes, I mailed my census back well before the deadline, and in fact, the day AFTER I received it in the mail! I received notice that I would be getting the census, then I got the census, then I got the post card reminding me to return the census (oh…got that twice). Including the return of my census, that is 5 pieces of mail and 1 census guy (who made 2 visits to my house). OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK! My daughter, who lives in the same neighborhood, had the same experience. Did my census get lost in the mail or did they just not like the fact that I refused to answer ALL the questions? BTW…the census taker was very pleasant (even though I wasn’t).

  26. Hey, I have an idea then, since you seem to think you can do better, you go ahead and organize the 2020 Census all by yourself. You work out how to count EVERY person residing in the United States. You work out the budget, what questions should be on the form, all of the hiring, and all of the enumerating. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!!!

  27. L. Wise says:

    NRFU census worker:
    WOW!! I have had zero communication from the Bureau since completing my training 2 weeks ago. Now that I am reading through the responses to Dr. Grover’s blog, I believe the problems are so widespread that it’s little wonder my efforts to find out if and when I might work have gone unanswered. I also was trained in the the previous enumerator operation and worked 4 days and was put on hold b/c my fingerprints, along with a # of others, were incomplete. 5 days later I drove 40 miles and spent 2 hours, to repeat the fingerprinting. I waited for an assignment and found out 3 days later there would be no more work in my area. As far as maintaining the “chain of command” my own experience trying to find answers to my concerns was discouraging. I could continue, but the sentiments of so many of the other respondents should be alarming to someone in administration! The amount of money spent training me was a poor investment. As a tax paying citizen I am
    wondering who will be accountable for this mess.

  28. G Lewis says:

    L. Wise, I have to agree with you. I completed all the necessary paperwork in January 2010. They did a background check and everything came back fine, therefore they hired me, I went thru training, and then they did a background check again and now I am having issues!! I have been told numerous times there was a computer error and TONS of employees were put on non-working status because of this error and they are working to correct it. But like you, I feel like I wasted taxpayer $$$ doing the training only to not be allowed to work because of an error. I realize there is error in everyday life, but this is a little out of control. There was no reason to spend money and time on a second background check. The first one was fine. And now I am not working. Again, I dont want to sound so harsh or anyone to feel like I am belitting our government. I know the Census is important and believe in it and thats why I wanted to work and take part. I actually worked in 2000 for the Census. But this error has costed lots of taxpayers money and in this economy, it has prevented many people from working and providing income for their families. Someone needs to help out and straighten the problem out quickly!!! I am sure by posting my thoughts, they wont hire me now!

  29. Brian – we are instructed to interview anyone 15 years old or older.

  30. Jeff says:

    I agree Sue! I am wondering if I will get a Census worker at my door because I did not fill out all my form either. If I do they will get the same response! That is all they are going to get! And they will do NOTHING about it!

  31. enumerator says:

    Well, unfortunately, the fact that you did not complete your entire form is exactly why an enumerator came to visit you. We do try to get as much of the information as we can from each household and the information remains completely confidential. I’m glad the census taker was pleasant to you! Thanks for your participation.

  32. enumerator says:

    I do hope, though, you will be civil to the enumerator.

  33. Stop the Press says:

    You sound like someone who is afraid, very afraid, big brother is going to come get ’em in the middle of the night! nd to top it all off, we worked two weeks of the promised 8 before we were told we were out of work. By my math I estimate they (the census folks) over hired by about 49,500 people at a cost of $22,176,000.00 for 4-eight hour days of training at an hourly wage of $14.00 per hour. This cost does not include mileage (reimbursed at .50), overtime (which we received during our training) or the cost of the training materials such as manuals and workbooks. Nor does it include the rental cost for the training facilities or the volumes of support staff (payroll, admin, etc.) needed to help on-board 49,500 people. It’s a colossal waste of money! And we should all remember this when we go to the polls in November.

  34. Irritated says:

    I filled out & sent in our census form in a timely manner. The problem arose because we have a rental house that’s currently unoccupied. A hanger was left on the door. I called the phone # provided and rec’d. a recording. I left a message with all the information requested (reference #’s on the hanger, etc.) and stated there is nobody living at that address. Today (over 2 wks. later) the guy called back while I was out. He left a rude message about not being able to tell what the address is I’m referring to (what are the reference #’s for?) and told me to call back. I called and left another message but no longer have the door hanger. I kept it a week and, after hearing nothing more, recycled it.
    It’s no wonder the enumerators are having problems if the #’s on the door hangers don’t reference a file or other identification for that address. But to take 2+ weeks to return a phone call is ridiculous. And to top it all off, the # for the local office is an invalid #.

  35. Steven says:

    Paul: So why didn’t you answer the question about if the form was tossed in the trash? This sounds like the LCO person did not know how to answer the caller’s question so they made something up.

  36. Jeff says:

    I will be civil if the enumerator is. If he/she isn’t, then no!

  37. Jeff says:

    I haven’t gotten a visit yet. Will I?

  38. People complain about everything says:

    9pm is not that late and the census form is also “faceless” fyi…

  39. People complain about everything says:

    how is that being harassed?… Sure, you bothered to fill it out, but there was a discrepancy, so of course they would have to verify the information. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, so they can’t disclose personally identifiable information.

  40. Disgusted Citizens in Nebraska says:

    Some tax payers have to get up at 4 in the morning…9:00 is late and always has been for polite people. I was raised, being taught that it is rude to call anybody that late. We pay for telephones for our convenience, not so the government can harass us about forms we filled out and sent in already. I notice no one responded to my post. Go figure…

  41. Disgusted Citizens in Nebraska says:

    Boy there is something wrong with your website. The above comment just appeared when I posted another comment just now. Webster’s dictionary defines harass in their definition 2 as “to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct”. Calling at 9:00 at night when my husband has to be up at 4:00 in the morning to go to work and then being rude, as the lady on the other end of the line was, fits that definition of harass. We have no call lists so telemarketers can’t call us. How can we get the politicians, government agencies, and other exceptions to leave us alone?

  42. Anonymous says:

    Why is the South Carolina – Lexington office suddenly being forced to wrap up phase one – non-response? Phase one is not done! Some of the doors have never been knocked on. The last day 10% of the work was incomplete and it was simply marked either vacant/delete or occupied/# unknown … based on enumerator opinions alone. All of the work turned in on the last day was not verified by the supervisors. Spanish translators were so short that entire Spanish speaking neighborhoods were simply skipped. Enumerators had no idea that Saturday would be the last day and still had appointments scheduled for the following week. Please consider giving this regional office another week to finish up those last forms. Thank you.

  43. Informative says:

    Lexington County is not a Regional Office, your RO is in Charlotte. Did you call the RO and ask to speak to the Area Manager for that area and explain this to her? This is something the AM would need to look into and take care of, no one from this blog can do anything.

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