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The U.S. Census Bureau today opened one of three data capture centers that will process the 2010 Census questionnaires as they are mailed back by households across the nation. The 236,500-square-foot facility will bring more than 2,500 jobs to Baltimore County, Md.
"Processing the 2010 Census questionnaires accurately and safely at the data capture centers is a crucial step to a successful census," said Census Bureau Acting Director Tom Mesenbourg. "The data from each form processed at the facility will help provide a complete count of the nation's population and a new portrait of America."
The Baltimore Data Capture Center is expected to process about 40 percent of the census forms mailed back by respondents. The remaining forms will be sent to the Census Bureau's National Processing Center in Jeffersonville, Ind., and the data capture center in Phoenix, which is set to open in November. The 2010 Census forms will be mailed in March, and the majority of the data processing will occur between March and July.
The Baltimore Data Capture Center will be managed by Lockheed Martin. Its subcontractor partner, CSC, will manage the hiring efforts for the 2,500 new employees, most of whom will be hired starting in December of this year. Each worker will take an oath for life to keep census information confidential. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with any other government or law enforcement agency. Any violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.
The 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Census data are used to distribute congressional seats to states and to allocate more than $435 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year. The 2010 Census questionnaire will be one of the shortest in history, consisting of 10 questions and taking about 10 minutes to complete.