You may have missed it, but included in the commercial for the Super Bowl this year was a 30 second spot for the 2010 Census campaign. The message was simple: it takes just ten minutes to fill out and turn in your census survey.
The publics’ participation in the Census is critical. Census data is used to define legislature districts, school district assignment areas and other important functional areas of government. Changes in your community are crucial to many planning decisions, such as where to provide services for the elderly, where to build new roads and schools, or where to locate job training centers.
The Constitution mandates a population and housing census every 10 years. Everyone living in the U.S. is obligated to participate; both citizens and non-citizens must be counted. This basic data on the number of people, their age and their sex in each household will be used in a variety of ways. It will be used to determine the Commonwealth’s share of more than $400 billion allocated annually by the federal government to states and municipalities for the next ten years. The information will also guide local government decisions regarding the need and availability of funding for the construction of roads, schools, hospitals, and child-care and senior citizen centers in your community.
Households can expect the survey to arrive in the mail this March. The form consists of ten questions and takes an average of ten minutes to complete. If you don’t turn in your completed form, a census worker will be deployed to your house to take a count in person, costing you time and costing taxpayers’ money. If you have any questions or concerns, you can find out more on my website.
National Census Day slated for April 1st. I will be spending the next few months working with the federal government and local census bureaus to spread the word about this critical exercise and encourage people to complete and mail back their 2010 Census forms.
We have taken great strides to foster local community-based partnerships to hire local workers in the 2010 census effort. More than 490 Census offices have been set up across the country to serve local consistencies and work with community leaders. The 8th District has two Census offices, one in Alexandria, which covers Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church, and the other in Fairfax County. These offices alone expect to hire roughly 2,200 people. All told, approximately 500,000 people will be employed in this nationwide effort to count every man, woman and child.
In 2000, more than 140,000 organizations partnered with the 2000 Census including community and faith-based organizations, schools, states, local and tribal governments, media outlets, businesses and other interested groups. With the highest concentration of non-profit organizations in the nation, I expect that Northern Virginia will once again prove an invaluable partner in the campaign.
A massive undertaking, the national census has been referred to as the largest peacetime mobilization in U.S. history. With the growing population and the most sophisticated technical and operational knowledge and tools to date, the 2010 Census is poised to break all records in terms of the mobilization of federal employees, community institutions, schools, private citizens and businesses throughout the country. Please, do your part to ensure that your family, your home and your community gets counted and treated fairly for the next ten years. For more information about the 2010 Census, visit 2010census.gov.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.