The U.S. Census Bureau reported yesterday that it has returned $1.6 billion of the government funding it received for 2010 Census operations.
Director Robert Groves attributed some of the savings – about $800 million – to good fortune. That was the amount of the Census Bureau’s contingency fund for natural disasters that might have made it more difficult to carry out the count. In addition, because more people than expected (72 percent of households) returned their questionnaire by mail, the Census Bureau was able to spend less money on the door-to-door, non-response follow up
The Census Bureau also credits its success to its partnerships with more than 255,000 organizations, which expanded the reach of what the Census Bureau was able to do. The organizations reassured the public that census information is confidential, conducted education about avoiding possible fraud, and provided multiple resources to help complete the form – written or orally, in a variety of languages. Many civil rights groups were official census partners, including The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
The 2010 census was a major priority for the civil and human rights community. In addition to working with the bureau, The Leadership Conference Education Fund launched a campaign with four national civil rights organizations and local community-based organizations to encourage census participation among hard-to-count populations in 13 key areas around the country.
During the last two censuses, the bureau missed counting millions of people — mostly minorities and low-income people. Undercounting certain populations may reduce federal funding for hospitals, education, child care, and disaster preparation — as well as undermine fair representation in Congress.
The bureau is currently verifying all the data it collected during the enumeration. It will report the nation’s population and the allotment of congressional seats in each state to Congress by the end of this year.