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Contact: Maury Cagle
Decennial Media Relations
(301) 457-1037 (TDD)
U.S. Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt today issued the following statement in response to published reports of a printing error on a pre-notification letter announcing the arrival of census questionnaires next month:
"We regret an addressing error on an advance letter alerting the American public to the importance of the census which starts next month. The Census Bureau assures the public that this will not affect the census count for 2000, or the delivery of questionnaires. We are gratified as well that our long-term partners at the U. S. Postal Service have assured us that all census mail will be correctly delivered.
"The error itself occurred during printing and addressing of the advance letters by a private vendor. It should have been caught earlier by the Census Bureau quality assurance process. An extra digit was added in front of the street address of every letter. Postal officials today advised us: 'America can count on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver this and all future census mailings. Our high-speed, automated sorting machines can read the proper address from the barcode on the mail piece.' (See full statement below).
"Let me stress, the census questionnaires are addressed correctly and this incident does not affect the production, mailing or delivery of any census mail. The printing of the advance letter is an operation independent of the printing of census questionnaires.
"We are taking additional steps with our community partners and through our advertising, and the media to stress the importance of opening and reading the advance letter. Every household should open the letter and read it.
"This letter also allows individuals to request a census questionnaire in Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Chinese or Korean. For residents who need a foreign language form, it is especially imperative that they open their letter, read it, and mail back their request in the enclosed postage-paid envelope.
"The census is a shared responsibility between the American public and the Census Bureau and all of our partners in and out of the government. To reverse the declining rates of participation in civic events such as the census, we expect everyone will continue to do their part in making the 2000 Census the most complete and accurate in our history".
FULL STATEMENT BY Judy A. de Torok, Manager Media Relations, On behalf of the U.S. Postal Service. "America can count on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver this and all future census mailings. Our high-speed, automated sorting machines can read the proper address from the barcode on the mail piece. We want our customers to know that this mail piece is intended for them and is properly delivered despite the extra digit in the street address".