U.S. Census completed at $1.6 billion under budget

McClatchy NewspapersAugust 10, 2010 

Artist Tommy Joseph of Sitka, Alaska, stands next to the totem pole he carved to encourage participation by rural Alaskans in this year's census.

AP PHOTO/JUNEAU EMPIRE, MICHAEL PENN

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Census Bureau is $1.6 billion under budget for conducting the 2010 survey, due primarily to avoiding the catastrophic problems that some had predicted, top Obama administration officials said Tuesday.

Currently the census, which is conducted every 10 years to gather statistics on the U.S. population, is 22 percent under budget, according to the bureau.

In response to doomsday predictions of possible glitches in new survey software, Congress allocated a contingency fund to tap if anything arose that would hinder the survey. Even though the contingency fund has gone untouched, Robert Groves, the Census Bureau's director, said he thinks the allocation was worthwhile, noting that the 1990 census ran out of funds and that an outbreak of H1N1 flu virus could've interfered with this year's survey.

Groves also attributed the $1.6 billion surplus to efficiency, both from the census-taking workforce end and in public response rates as well. Groves noted the use of advertisements and follow-ups in previously low response areas, as well as a more "focused" workforce of surveyors at a time of high unemployment.

Groves emphasized that collecting information for the current census isn't over, as the bureau will deploy surveyors to increase the chances that the date gathered is accurate.

"We're going to stay out in the field until we have a resolution on every address and understand the population characteristics of every address we can," Groves said.

Groves said that statistics from about 700,000 households need to be reviewed either because their surveys were incomplete or there's uncertainty about the number of people who occupy the home.

In addition, about one in 700 households across the country will be visited by a surveyor to assess the accuracy of the data that was processed.

The bureau's deadline for presenting information to the president that will affect the drawing of congressional district lines across the U.S. is Dec. 31.

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McClatchy Newspapers 2010

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