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As census takers across the nation finish the 2010 Census door-to-door follow-up operation, the U.S. Census Bureau has entered the quality assurance phase, where select households around the country will be contacted by a census worker. Three major operations occur this summer that mark the peak of efforts to ensure data accuracy.
The 2010 Census is on schedule and significantly under budget but not fully completed. The Census Bureau systematically re-interviews 5 percent of all the households visited by census takers to confirm that all of the 565,000 census takers followed training protocols and produced accurate data.
"We thank the American public for their participation in our door-to-door follow-up phase and for their continued patience as we enter the next vital stage of the 2010 Census," said Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. "We ask that if you are one of the few homes re-interviewed, called or visited this summer during our quality assurance operations, please take a few minutes to help us ensure that the 2010 Census is complete and accurate."
Groves expressed confidence that census takers are doing a quality job, and he reaffirmed that the current process enables the Census Bureau to catch any errors or corner-cutting and initiate immediate corrections.
In the coverage follow-up operation, the Census Bureau calls households to eliminate confusion about the number of people reported in a household to make certain there are no missing or double-counted individuals. As the nation experiences one of the highest vacancy rates in recent years, the vacant/delete check operation requires census workers to visit households that were listed as vacant on April 1 (Census Day) to double-check that no individual has been left out. The field verification operation verifies the location of addresses provided by Be Counted forms or through telephone interviews to ensure everyone is counted in the correct location.
"Decades of census taking have taught us the importance of the quality assurance phase, and we know crucial federal funding and congressional apportionment relies heavily on our ability to produce an accurate census count," Groves said. "That is why these quality assurance operations — inspired by our mantra to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place — are critical to our country's future."
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 apportion congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to tribal, state and local governments each year and to make decisions about what community services to provide. The 2010 Census form will be one of the shortest in U.S. history, consisting of 10 questions, taking about 10 minutes to complete. Strict confidentiality laws protect the respondents and the information they provide.