On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution encouraging Placer County residents to actively participate in Census 2010.
Census Partnership Specialist Joe Jimenez spoke to the Board on behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau, indicating that the census affects political representation, directs the allocation of $300 billion in government funding every year, and generates thousands of jobs across the country.
The goal of the Census is to count everyone once. The questionnaire, to be mailed in March of 2010, is a short form that will count all residents living in the United States by asking how many individuals live in particular locations. The questionnaire will not ask personal questions that can be traced to an individual.
“Being counted is important to assure that Placer County residents can be properly represented,” Chairman F.C. “Rocky” Rockholm noted. “Certainly we want to receive our share of federal funding to help support our communities.”
The United States Constitution requires a head count of every person living in the United States every 10 years. Despite extensive outreach, more than 500,000 Californians were not counted in 2000, leading to a loss of $1.5 billion in federal funding for California. For that reason, the Census Bureau is requesting that local governments establish “Complete Count Committees” to assist with additional outreach and advertising, an action approved by the Board.
Jimenez reported that Census staff began working April 6 in neighborhoods, doing address canvassing, a critical first step to verify addresses so that every housing unit receives a census questionnaire by mail next March. Residents may see staff members carrying hand held computers equipped with the Global Positioning System, called “GPS”. It is being used to increase addressing accuracy by reducing geographic coding errors that occurred in previous counts, which were caused by using paper maps. GPS is widely used as an aid to navigation and mapping, among other uses.
In most cases census workers will knock on doors if necessary to verify addresses or to inquire about additional living quarters on the premises. They can be identified by official census badges.
Census workers will never ask for bank or social security information. All census information collected, including addresses, is confidential and protected by law. (Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 9). By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with federal agencies, state or local agencies, including the FBI, IRS, or immigration. No court of law or law enforcement agency can find out respondents’ answers. All Census Bureau employees — including temporary employees — take an oath for life to keep census information confidential. Any violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.
More information about the Census is available at http://www.census.gov.