The head of the Census Bureau says with preparations for next year's count nearly complete, he's growing more hopeful the government can achieve a strong response rate similar to what was seen in 2000.
In a news briefing, Robert Groves said the bureau recently finished compiling its master address list used to send out forms. He says an independent estimate shows the list's accuracy to be higher than what was seen in the last census.
The Census Bureau faces special challenges next year locating residents because of foreclosures, as well as immigrants wary of government workers amid a crackdown on illegal immigration. Groves says he's hopeful of a good response because of strong outreach that emphasizes the information will be kept confidential. The form next year also will be the "shortest census in our lifetime" _ taking just 10 minutes to complete.
He said people should stay tuned as the bureau kicks off its $300 million advertising campaign next month and begins its head count in parts of rural Alaska.
"The plan has been set. Operations have been assembled," Groves said. "It is a time for all of us, especially social, political and religious leaders around the country to get the word out that everyone needs to participate _ that it is easy to do, and it's especially safe."
The population figures, gathered every 10 years, are used to apportion House seats and distribute nearly $450 billion in federal aid.
In 2000, the Census Bureau noted for the first time an overcount of 1.3 million people, due mostly to duplicate counts of more affluent whites with multiple residences. About 4.5 million people were ultimately missed, mostly blacks and Hispanics.