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The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that it is returning $1.6 billion in 2010 Census operational savings. The savings occurred because the American people stepped up — 72 percent of households returned the questionnaire by mail so there were lower costs in following up on households; because contingency funding set aside for disasters or major operational breakdowns was not tapped; and a more productive workforce completed assignments more efficiently.
“This is a significant accomplishment, and I would like to thank the American public for responding to the census and the more than 255,000 private and public sector partners who joined with us in making the 2010 Census a success,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said.
“The 2010 Census was a massive undertaking with great risk for operational problems and cost overruns,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “But with the leadership of Dr. Groves and his team at the Census Bureau we had an incredibly successful count that came in on time and well under budget.”
Approximately $800 million in savings are realized in the contingency funding set aside in case of natural disasters or operational breakdowns. No significant events disrupted major census operations that took place earlier this year.
Another $650 million in savings were realized in the labor intensive, door-to-door, follow-up operation because 72 percent of households returned the questionnaire by mail, meaning fewer homes had to be visited to obtain census answers. Furthermore, the 565,000 census workers used in this operation were more productive than in the previous census, resulting in lower labor costs.
An additional $150 million in savings were realized because a number of other census operations, such as counting the population in Alaska and on tribal lands, came in at a lower cost.
The savings represent 22 percent of 2010 Census costs this fiscal year.
Census operations continue throughout the summer with a number of planned, rigorous quality assurance checks to ensure an accurate and complete count.
“The Census management team, along with a dedicated census workforce, worked diligently to ensure we keep the census on track and on schedule while being vigilant with taxpayer dollars,” Groves said. “Early data are showing improvements in the quality of the field work even as we achieved these savings. We will remain focused until all 2010 Census operations are completed.”
The Census Bureau is required by law to report by the end of the year the nation's population and apportionment of seats to each state in the U.S. House of Representatives.