“Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct.”

— Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States [as originally enacted and before the Fourteenth and Nineteenth Amendments]

Decennial Census

The Census is conducted on April 1 every ten years under the authority of Title 13 of the U.S. Code, Section 141, which provides that the Secretary of Commerce has authority to take a census in form and content as he may determine, including sampling and surveys. Note that this individual and housing census (which is the one we refer to as the “Census”) is only one of a number of censuses authorized under the US Code and that this decennial Census can be supplemented with a mid-decade census at the five-year mid-point between decennial Censuses. Mid-decade data may be used for purposes of determining federal funds apportioned among the states but it may not be used for Congressional reapportionment.

Starting in 2009, thousands of temporary workers were dispatched on foot with hand-held global positioning devices to identify and enter into the Census Bureau’s central database residential building structures throughout the country. According to news reports, Census Bureau Director Robert Groves announced that the 2010 decennial Census was kicked off in Noorvik, Alaska on January 25th. According to the Census Bureau website, the mailing of Census forms takes place during March. On or about April 1, 2010, every identified family in the country should receive a Census questionnaire containing the following questions:

How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2010?

Number of people = /___/

Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1? Mark /X/ all that apply

/__/ Children, such as newborn babies or foster children
/__/ Relatives, such as adult children, cousins, and in-laws
/__/ Non-relatives such as roommates or live-in babysitters
/__/ People staying here temporarily
/__/ No additional people

Is this house, apartment or mobile home — Mark /_/ ONE box).

/__/ Owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan? Include home equity loans.
/__/ Owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (no mortgage loan)?
/__/ Rented?
/__/ Occupied without payment of rent?

What is your telephone number? We may call if we don’t understand an answer.

Area code plus number

[______] – [_____] – [__________]

Please provide information for each person living here. Start with a person living here who owns or rents this house, apartment, or mobile home. If the owner or renter lives somewhere else, start with any adult living here. This will be Person 1.

What is Person 1’s name? Print below.

Last Name [________________________________]
First Name [______________________] MI [_____]

What is Person 1’s sex?

Mark /X/ ONE box.

/_/ Male
/_/ Female

What is Person 1’s age and what is Person 1’s date of birth?

Please report babies as age as 0 when the child is less than one year old. Print numbers in boxes.

Age on April 1, 2020 Month Day Year of Birth

[________________] [_____] [____] [___________]

Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?

/__/ No. Not of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.
/__/ Yes. Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano
/__/ Yes, Puerto Rican.
/__/ Yes, Cuban.
/__/ Yes, another Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.

Print origin – for example, Argentinean, Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spanish and so on.

[___________________________________]

What is Person 1’s race?
Mark /X/ one or more boxes.

/__/ White
/__/ Black, African Am., or Negro
/__/ American Indian or Alaska Native – Print name of enrolled or principal tribe
[___________________________________________________]
/__/ Asian Indian
/__/ Chinese
/__/ Filipino
/__/ Japanese
/__/ Korean
/__/ Vietnamese
/__/ Other Asian – Print race, for example, Hmong, Laotian, Thai, Pakistani, Cambodian, and so on.
[___________________________________________________]
/__/ Native Hawaiian
/__/ Guamanian or Chamorro
/__/Samoan
/__/ Other Pacific Islander – Print race, for example, Fijian, Tongan, and so on.
[___________________________________________________]
/__/ Some Other Race. Print race.
[___________________________________________________]

Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else?

/__/ No /__/ Yes — Mark /X/ all that apply.

/__/ College housing
/__/ In the military
/__/ At a seasonal or second residence
/__/ For child custody
/__/ In jail or prison
/__/ In a nursing home
/__/ For another reason

If more people were counted in Question 1, continue with Person 2.

By December 2010, the Census results are to be delivered to the President for Congressional apportionment. The law requires the Census Bureau to deliver final redistricting data based on Census results to the states by March 2011.

This short form Census questionnaire is the only questionnaire for the 2010 decennial Census; there is no long-form questionnaire for this Census as there has been in the past (although there is a separate, longer, “American Community Survey” that is conducted annually by the Census Bureau). There is no provision for filling out the Census form online as was the case in 2000. Between April and July, Census Bureau workers will be contacting (and probably visiting in person) all identified families who do not mail in the Census questionnaire. It has been reported that some one million individuals will be hired to assist in the Census. For questions on previous Census forms, go here: http://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/tQuestions.shtml.

Other Federal Censuses

13 USC §135 requires the Secretary of Commerce to take, compile and publish censuses of manufactures, mineral industries, and of other businesses, including the distributive trades, service establishments, and transportation in 1968 and every fifth year thereafter (with each such census relating to the previous year).

13 USC §161 requires a census of governments in 1957 and every fifth year thereafter, including data on taxes and tax valuations, governmental receipts, expenditures, indebtedness, and employees of States, counties, cities, and other governmental units.

13 USC §196 authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to conduct special censuses for states, territories and possessions, the District of Columbia, or any city, county or political subdivision within a state upon payment of the costs of such censuses. The results of any such special censuses are designated “official census statistics” that may be used for any lawful purposes.

The American Community Survey (“ACS”) is an ongoing census conducted with respect to a sample of the population. In the United States and Puerto Rico, about 250,000 addresses per month receive the American Community Survey. See, http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/SQuest09.pdf for the 2009 ACS questions. This is equal to about one-in-480 addresses per month, or one-in-40 per year. The ACS is intended to replace the year 2000 Census long form (which was delivered to a sample of the population in addition to the short form that was delivered to all households).

According to the Government Accountability Office, the authority for the ACS is 13 USC §141, the section relating to the decennial Census, which provides that the Secretary of Commerce shall conduct a census of the population every ten years:

… in such form and content as he may determine, including the use of sampling procedures and special surveys. In connection with any such census, the Secretary is authorized to obtain such other census information as necessary….

and 13 USC § 193, which states:

In advance of, in conjunction with, or after the taking of each census provided for by [Chapter 5 relating to censuses], the Secretary may make surveys and collect such preliminary and supplementary statistics related to the main topic of the census as are necessary to the initiation, taking, or completion thereof.

The court in Morales v. Evans (116 F. Supp. 2d 801 (S.D. Tex. 2000), aff’d 275 F.3d 45 (5th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 122 S. Ct. 1079 (Mem) (2002)) held that the information collected in the 2000 long-form census. GAO, in concluding that the Census Bureau may require responses to the ACS, it notes that the courts have held that there is a sufficient governmental interest to require the collection of census data and to assess penalties for the failure to comply. [United States v. Rickenbacker, 309 F.2d 462 (2nd Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 371 U.S. 962 (1963); United States v. Little, 317 F. Supp. 1308 (D.Del. 1970)]

Privacy

Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the privacy of census information (i.e., information collected under Title 13 of the US Code, including names of individuals provided) for 72 years. By law, personalized census information may not be shared with other federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Census Bureau employees and contractors must take an oath:

When hired to work for the Census Bureau, employees must sign a Sworn Affidavit of Nondisclosure.

This obligates those hired to accept the responsibility of keeping all Title 13 data confidential. This constitutes a lifetime obligation, continuing even if you are no longer affiliated with the Census Bureau.

“I will not disclose any information contained in the schedules, lists, or statements obtained for or prepared by the Census Bureau to any person or persons either during or after employment.”

The penalty for unlawful disclosure of census information is a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment for up to five years, or both.

The security requirements for Census contractors are set forth on the Census web page at http://www.census.gov/procur/www/contr-security.html. This includes a requirement that contract project supervisors, contract management officials, and other contract personnel who may come into contact with Title 13 data take the Census Bureau Oath of Non-disclosure and become subject to the same penalties applicable to Census Bureau employees for unlawful disclosure.

Chronology of Contractor Awards for the 2010 Census

9/26/05—$500MM six-year Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) contract awarded to Lockheed Martin. The contract includes systems, equipment and facilities to “capture and standardize” 2010 census data and is a cost-plus, award-fee contract with firm fixed-price elements. Lockheed Martin is teamed with IBM, Computer Sciences Corporation, Pearson Government Solutions and several other companies.

9/30/06—$600MM five-year automated support contract awarded to Harris Corp., teamed with Unisys, Accenture, Client Network Services Inc., Sprint, Dell, High Tech Computer Corporation, Oracle and Headstrong. The contract is a cost-plus award-fee contract with incentives-based performance fees.

5/24/07—$49.7MM three-year printing contract for the production and coordination of mailings of Census forms to 120MM households awarded to R.R. Donnelly.

9/6/07—$200MM communications contract awarded to Draftfcb of New York (a doing-business name for True North Communications, Inc.), a marketing communications agency that is part of Interpublic Group. The contract is a competitively awarded indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract.

9/30/07—$ 9.5MM fixed-price contract for pre-and post- award services (real estate) for local census offices awarded by GSA to Equus Corp., a real estate firm.

Failure to Provide Information

Refusal to answer questions in connection with any census conducted under Chapter 5, Subchapters I, II, IV and V of Title 13 of the US Code is punishable by a fine of $100. The act of giving false answers to Census questions is punishable by a fine of $500. Providing suggestions, advice, information or assistance with the intent of causing an inaccurate count is punishable by a fine of $1,000. Here is the relevant statutory language:

United States Code, Title 13 (Census), Chapter 7 (Offenses and Penalties), SubChapter II:
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 to 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.

Sec. 222. Giving suggestions or information with intent to cause inaccurate enumeration of population

Whoever, either directly or indirectly, offers or renders to any officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof engaged in making an enumeration of population under subchapter II, IV, or V of chapter 5 of this title, any suggestion, advice, information or assistance of any kind, with the intent or purpose of causing an inaccurate enumeration of population to be made, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

The American Civil Liberties Union has stated that it is aware of no cases of enforcement of this law.

Failure of any owner, proprietor, manager, superintendent, or agent of any hotel, apartment house, boarding or lodging house, tenement, or other building to provide access, provide names of tenants or otherwise cooperate with any employee or officer of the Department of Commerce in collecting information for the Census or a related survey may result in a fine of up to $500. [13 USC § 223]

Any 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 who neglects or refuses to answer any questions in the §135 census completely and correctly to the best of his or her knowledge may be fined up to $500. The willful giving of a false answer is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000. [13 USC § 224]

For a detailed description of census fines, including recent statements that census fines under general sentencing guidelines can be raised to up to $5000, see our update A Solari Report – Census Fines.

Related reading:

Census Law On Personal Data
US Gov Website

IBM Awarded Census Bureau Contract
(5 March 10)

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