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The U.S. Census Bureau has begun mailing informational booklets to all state, local and tribal governments asking for their assistance in providing updated addresses for their communities, part of an early, concerted effort to make the 2010 Census as accurate as possible.
A complete address list is needed to accurately count each person living in the United States - including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
"The Census Bureau has a constitutional mandate to count everyone living in the United States, count them only once, and count them in the right place" said Preston Jay Waite, the Census Bureau's deputy director and associate director for the decennial census. "Developing an accurate and up-to-date Master Address File is the first and most vital stage of the decennial census process, ensuring that people residing at the addresses listed in the file will receive a census questionnaire in 2010."
In partnership with the Census Bureau, state, local and tribal governments will use their local knowledge to improve the list of addresses for housing units and group quarters addresses, including growth as a result of new construction or annexation.
The information contained in the address list is confidential by law. Those governments that choose to participate in the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program will then be provided an option to review the Census Bureau's address list. If they choose this option, they must take an oath to protect the information they review. Like all census employees, those who review and update a confidential address list are subject to a jail term, a fine or both if they disclose any protected information.
The Census Bureau will use the updated address list to deliver the census questionnaires and ensure a successful 2010 Census, the largest peacetime operation the federal government undertakes.
"Decennial census data directly affect how more than $200 billion in federal grant funding is distributed to state, local and tribal governments each year," said Bart Peterson, president of the National League of Cities and mayor of Indianapolis, Ind. "Clearly, the stakes are high, and participation in the LUCA program will ensure cities and towns nationwide receive their fair share of funding for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation and much more.
By 2010, there will be more than 310 million people living in an estimated 130 million households across the country who must be counted in order to ensure seats are apportioned in the U.S. House of Representatives and federal and state funding is distributed fairly. When considered with the rise in immigration, an increasingly diverse population and a record number of languages spoken by respondents, the need for an accurate address list is crucial.
Dating back to the nation's first census in 1790, the 2010 Census will have one of the shortest census questionnaires in the history of the United States. Asking just seven or so questions of all residents, the questionnaire will take most households about ten minutes to complete and will result in a simpler, less costly and more accurate census.
The Census Bureau also is embracing new technology to count the nation's growing and changing population. The Census Bureau expects to use 500,000 hand-held computers for data collection in the 2010 Census. These secure devices will be used to update address lists and to conduct follow-up interviews with people who do not complete and return a census questionnaire by mail.
For more information, visit the 2010 Census LUCA Program at <http://www.census.gov/geo/www/luca2010/luca.html>.