I understand that there are some significant changes in this Decennial Census. Tell me about those.

There's never been a census that was conceptualized as really shared with the public. It's always been an operations task: something that the Census Bureau went off and did and then reported the statistics. What this census has built into it is this extensive effort to get the public to adopt the census as its project rather than just the Census Bureau's project.

We have 60 thousand organizations signed up as partners to promote the census. For example, Wal-mart is going to have a "census day" in every store in its chain. Blockbuster is releasing census videos that tell folks how to fill out the census forms. The Catholic Church and various local organizations are working with some of the groups that are harder to count, like new immigrant groups, migrant workers, and the homeless.

We have a large, paid advertising campaign; we even did a "Super Bowl" ad, for example. We have, for the first time, a very extensive "Census in the Schools" program with over a million classrooms teaching census material. Cabinet members and members of Congress are going to be doing events about the census, too.

I'm now meeting with mayors and governors all over the country. They have Complete Count Committees, and they're putting their own states' money into this. I was in Pontiac, Michigan, where the Mayor was telling me that when people call any city office between now and Census Day, one of the first things they will hear is, "Don't forget to mail in your census form." Sarasota, Florida is wrapping all its buses with census messages.




Recently, I was on the "Today Show" launching our big road show. We've got 12 vans driving around the country making about 400 to 500 stops to promote the census. The census has really become a national project rather than just an agency project. We describe it as the first civic ceremony of the new century.

What is the mail-back rate? I understand there's something new there, as well.

The basic census operation is the delivery of the form to all residential addresses in the country. We have an address file that we think is complete; it has 120 million addresses on it. We deliver the forms to those addresses. The assumption is that they get mailed back to us, we open them up, they get tabulated, and we report the results.

In 1980, 75% of those households sent their forms back in. In 1990, 65% sent them back in. In 2000, we are making a major, and quite publicized, effort to increase the mail-back response rate. We call it "90 + 5."

There are 39,000 jurisdictions in the country: tribal governments, cities, counties, states, and so forth -- 39,000 of them! We're telling them what their response rate was in 1990 and asking them to better that response rate by 5% or more. From March 27th through April 11th (the mail-back period), we're going to tell those 39,000 jurisdictions how well they're doing - - every 24 hours!


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