April 6, 2010 | The Washington Post | Original Article

Why did some households get more census forms?

The Federal Eye has heard from several readers and colleagues concerned that they received another census questionnaire in the mail late last week despite already filling one out.

So why did some get a second form while others didn't?

The U.S. Census Bureau mailed second questionnaires to regions of the country that had the lowest 2000 Census response rates. In the Washington area, forms were mailed from April 1 to 3 to portions of Northeast and Southeast Washington, Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland and Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax counties in Virginia. Other parts of those areas with slightly better but still low response rates will receive additional forms starting on April 10, the agency said.

This is the first time the Census Bureau has sent the forms again, after research by the agency and outsiders reported that mailing extra forms to low responding regions might boost response rates seven to 10 percentage points, a spokeswoman said.

Printing the additional forms will cost taxpayers about $42 million, but officials believe they will inevitably save more than $500 million in money not needed to hire temporary census takers.

If you already filled out a form and receive another one, destroy it, the agency said. The Census Bureau said it can avoid processing duplicate forms from the same address by tracking bar codes on each form.