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Counting People in the Right Places: Boundaries Matter

Thu Mar 19 2015
John H. Thompson
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The U.S. Census Bureau provides the definitive decennial count of America’s people and places, and a key part of that task is counting people in the right places – the cities, towns and counties where they live and work – to safeguard Americans receiving their fair share of funds. For this reason, Census Bureau geographers are hard at work to ensure that the record of our nation’s places is up to date.

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The Boundary and Annexation Survey, which is currently underway, fulfills the Census Bureau’s responsibility for recording all legal boundaries in the U.S. – things like city limits and townships.  Through this survey, governments can report their incorporations, annexations and official name changes.

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Why is it important for local governments to participate in the Boundary and Annexation Survey? For one thing, the Census Bureau’s boundary records help place population information from the decennial census,  the American Community Survey and the annual Population Estimates Program in the correct local area. Because the American Community Survey population information is tied to funding for schools, roads, hospitals and many other services, it’s in local governments’ best interests to make sure records are correct.

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The Census Bureau is responsible for the nation’s legal boundaries and population data – they are publicly available and used by many other federal agencies, researchers and the public. Consequently, providing updates to our data ensures it is accurate, and those updates ripple out in numerous important ways.

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We are soliciting responses to the Boundary and Annexation Survey through May 31. To help make things as easy as possible, we’ve created a YouTube channel with training videos. Even if your local area hasn’t had any boundary changes in the last year, it’s still critical that you review your boundaries for accuracy and respond to the Boundary and Annexation Survey with that information (just check “No changes” on the form) so that we will know you have verified the accuracy of the information.

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If you’re a local, county or tribal official or staff person with questions about the Boundary and Annexation Survey or how to respond, please contact us at 1-800-972-5651 or geo.bas@census.gov.  Materials for the 2015 survey  and FAQs are also available online at www.census.gov/geo/partnerships/bas.html.

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