The decennial (10-year) U.S. Census forms are coming out mid-March, 2010. The last Census was in 2000. Similar to last time, there will be “short” and “long” forms. The longer forms will be sent to about 1 in 6 households, all others will receive the short form. Households, businesses, and organizations are compelled to provide Census data by the federal government. A follow up contact by Census takers will occur if a household does not return the form fully completed in a timely manner (a few weeks from distribution). By law, the entire Census must be completed by July, 2010. The information is to be made available by the end of the year.

The first U.S. Census occurred in 1790. It has grown in scope over the years with significant revisions in 1880 (R.B. Hayes), 1940 (F. Roosevelt) -- very sweeping, 1970 (R. Nixon), 1980 (J. Carter), and 2010 (B.Obama). The U.S. Constitution, on the other hand, only calls for a simple count, or "enumeration."

[Constitution Article 1, Section 2 -- calls for enumeration; Article 1 Section 9 -- refers to census]


The longer Census form began morphing into the annual American Community Survey (ACS) around 2005.

In the past, the Census “long form” and ACS were separate. The ACS has historically been optional
(though highly pushed). During the 10-year Census taking, however, this longer version now becomes mandatory.


The Census is used by government and business for various applications. Voter re-districting and allocation of approximately $200 billion per year to local, state, and tribal entities are but a couple of the more notable uses.

Many have expressed concern about the collection, use, privacy, and non-compliance penalties regarding the Census process and data. The Census Bureau states that the information is private, but also notes that is used by various agencies and organizations such as, but not limited to, HUD, Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor Department, and Military and Veterans Affairs.


Be aware of the changes in 2010 when it comes to non-compliance and the various forms. There are potential fines involved. Fines for providing false information appear to be generally greater than for not complying.


The following are a few legalese excerpts taken directly from the federal laws governing the 2010 Census:


Excerpts:

TITLE 13 - CENSUS

CHAPTER 7 - OFFENSES AND PENALTIES
SUBCHAPTER II - OTHER PERSONS



§ 221. Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers

(a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age,

refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by

the Secretary, or by any other authorized officer

or employee of the Department of Commerce or

bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions

of the Secretary or authorized officer,

to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of

the questions on any schedule submitted to him

in connection with any census or survey provided

for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter

5 of this title, applying to himself or to the

family to which he belongs or is related, or toT

the farm or farms of which he or his family is

the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100.

(b) Whoever, when answering questions described

in subsection (a) of this section, and

under the conditions or circumstances described

in such subsection, willfully gives any answer

that is false, shall be fined not more than $500.


(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of

this title, no person shall be compelled to disclose

information relative to his religious beliefs

or to membership in a religious body.



§ 223. Refusal, by owners, proprietors, etc., to assist

census employees

Whoever, being the owner, proprietor, manager,

superintendent, or agent of any hotel,

apartment house, boarding or lodging house,

tenement, or other building, refuses or willfully

neglects, when requested by the Secretary or by

any other officer or employee of the Department

of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof, acting

under the instructions of the Secretary, to

furnish the names of the occupants of such

premises, or to give free ingress thereto and

egress therefrom to any duly accredited representative

of such Department or bureau or

agency thereof, so as to permit the collection of

statistics with respect to any census provided

for in subchapters I and II of chapter 5 of this

title, or any survey authorized by subchapter IV

or V of such chapter insofar as such survey relates

to any of the subjects for which censuses

are provided by such subchapters I and II, including,

when relevant to the census or survey

being taken or made, the proper and correct

enumeration of all persons having their usual

place of abode in such premises, shall be fined

not more than $500.


§ 224. Failure to answer questions affecting companies,

businesses, religious bodies, and

other organizations; false answers


Whoever, being the owner, official, agent, person

in charge, or assistant to the person in

charge, of any company, business, institution,

establishment, religious body, or organization of

any nature whatsoever, neglects or refuses,

when requested by the Secretary or other authorized

officer or employee of the Department

of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof, to answer

completely and correctly to the best of his

knowledge all questions relating to his company,

business, institution, establishment, religious

body, or other organization, or to records

or statistics in his official custody, contained on

any census or other schedule or questionnaire

prepared and submitted to him under the authority

of this title, shall be fined not more than

$500; and if he willfully gives a false answer to

any such question, he shall be fined not more

than $10,000.


-- End --


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Comment by Tom on March 6, 2010 at 7:39pm
There are 10 questions on the "short form". They can be reviewed at http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/interactive-form.php

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