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Commerce Secretary William M. Daley today joined Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt at Census Bureau headquarters in Suitland, Md., to announce the official completion of the non-response follow-up phase of Census 2000. All 120 million housing units on the Census Bureau's national address list now have been accounted for.
"The great success the Census Bureau has enjoyed in the follow-up operation is due to the dedication, enthusiasm and resourcefulness of census workers," Daley said before addressing Census Bureau employees. "They have taken their jobs seriously and worked tirelessly to help their communities have the best count possible, often in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances."
Two-thirds of U.S. households returned their census forms by April, and this left about 42 million housing units to be visited during the non-response follow-up phase. An army of more than 400,000 temporary workers began field work on April 27. All 12 census regions completed their work in this phase by June 27, ahead of the bureau's target date.
"This accomplishment does not mean the census is over," Prewitt noted. "Through September, we will conduct a 'Quality Counts' program that will ultimately contact some 12 million households -- about a tenth of the national total. The American people have been extraordinarily cooperative with Census 2000, and we hope they will understand that this additional work is necessary to ensure that Census 2000 can provide the best possible data to guide important decisions that will impact their lives through the decade."
Census workers already have begun contacting households which sent back incomplete questionnaires, or questionnaires containing discrepancies.
Beginning next week, additional operations will see experienced field staff double-check addresses classified earlier as vacant or nonexistent, or for which a blank questionnaire was received. Also to be visited are new housing units constructed in the months immediately before Census Day on April 1, and possibly not included on the national address list.
At the same time, work is continuing on the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation, an independent quality-check survey of 314,000 housing units across the nation. Its results will be matched against those of the census to develop the most accurate numbers possible for all nonapportionment purposes, such as redistricting and distributing federal program funds. Initial field work for this survey is scheduled to be completed in September.
The Census Bureau guarantees that the answers given on census forms are kept strictly confidential. Information collected in Census 2000 will provide local area data needed for communities to receive federal program funds and for private sector and community planning.