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The 1990 census was conducted as of April 1, 1990. The U.S. Census Bureau used two questionnaires to collect data from households: A short form asking 13 questions of all households and a long form asking 45 questions of 20 percent of all households.
The 1990 census was promoted by an extensive pro bono television, radio, and print advertising campaign. Additional promotional activities included local "complete count" committees, information kits and lesson plans for schools (Census in Schools), and local government outreach and partnerships.
Technologically, the 1990 census benefited from the use of the Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing system (TIGER), developed jointly by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Census Bureau. The TIGER system is a computerized representation of various map features (such as streets, rivers, and census geographic boundaries) used to geographically code addresses into appropriate census geographic areas, as well as to produce the many different maps required for data collection and tabulation.
At the conclusion of the 1990 census, the U.S. resident population totalled 248,709,873, a 9.8 percent increase over the 1980 total.