FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 12, 2005
Spanish Questionnaire and Internet Responses To Be Tested Nationally
Public Information Office
(301) 763-3691/457-3620 (fax)
(301) 457-1037 (TDD)
The U.S. Census Bureau is conducting its 2005 National Census Test to study issues such as the possibility of a questionnaire in two languages along with design changes meant to be user-friendlier. In addition to the traditional method of completing and mailing back questionnaires, some households will also be given the opportunity of filling out their questionnaire on the Internet.
Approximately 10,000 households will receive a bilingual questionnaire (English and Spanish) to evaluate the effect on response rates in the growing number of households where Spanish is the primary language.
"With the growing Hispanic population in the United States, more people are expected to request a Spanish questionnaire in 2010. People are also showing more interest in responding on their home computers instead of filling out by hand and mailing back the paper form. Our goal is to identify ways to make it easier to respond to the census and reduce the more costly and time-consuming door-to-door follow-up to those who do not respond," said Preston Jay Waite, associate director for the Decennial Census.
Waite added that this test would be the last opportunity before embarking on the massive 2010 Census to conduct a nationally representative sample test of a bilingual questionnaire. The wording and design of the questionnaire and the various response strategies including viability of offering the Internet as a way to respond to the 2010 Census will be tested. In 2003, 62 percent of American households had access to computers and 55 percent of families had access to the Internet according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.
A follow-up thank you postcard will be sent to households that responded and to remind those that did not respond to please do so.
The Census Bureau will continue to uphold its high standard of protecting the confidentiality of all respondents. Every person with access to census data is sworn, by federal law, to protect each individual's confidentiality. Your individual information and identity are protected and cannot be shared. Violation of this law is a federal crime with serious penalties including a prison sentence up to five years or a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
In 2006, the Census Bureau plans to test other aspects of the Decennial Census in a portion of Travis County, Texas and the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. Also, a full dress rehearsal on the 2010 Census programs and operation is scheduled for 2008. The size and scope of these remaining operational tests are dependant on future congressional funding.
Advance letters and questionnaires were sent to a national sample of about 420,000 households in late August. The letter explained why the test is being conducted and assured respondents that their answers are kept confidential. The 2005 test questionnaires were mailed approximately one week after the letter. Participating households were asked to mail back their completed questionnaires or respond via the Internet by Nov. 9, 2005.