April 6, 2010 | Heritage Newspapers: Press & Guide | Original Article

Dean: When you return your census form, families, communities benefit

Once every 10 years, each one of us living in the United States has a unique opportunity to make a direct and positive impact on our neighborhoods and communities.


Well, in 2010, it’s as easy as answering and mailing back our Census Bureau forms.

Doing so is simple, fast and safe. Doing so makes it far more likely that our neighborhoods achieve the fullest count possible; and, in the process, greatly increase our community’s fair share of the $400 billion annually distributed to local programs and services for the next 10 years. That’s a lot of money that improves our quality of life and that of our children.

Returning your census form is one of the best ways to get the most significant return of your tax dollars through programs which enhance local education and preschool programs, health care clinics, job-training classes, road and bridge construction, among many others that are often easy to take for granted, especially as we rush back and forth taking care of our personal priorities.

When speaking to neighborhood and community organizations, folks often share their concerns about our hectic lives, concerns about privacy and questions about just what the government should know, or not know.

Our mission at the United States Census Bureau is to meet our Constitutional requirements every 10 years in ways which ultimately meet the needs of the American people.

That’s why we conduct the census, to simply count people and note information that helps us better understand a community’s expectations and wishes. So, let’s review why and how the 2010 census form is simple, fast and safe:


Your household has received the shortest and simplest census form in history. It consists of only 10 questions, and, on average, takes no more than 10 minutes to complete.


The questions are direct, basic and ask only about your general living situation, how many live at your address, their race and whether they are male or female.


Protecting the safety and security of your census data is more than a goal — it is our prized duty and it’s the law. Census data cannot be shared by the Census Bureau with anyone at the local, state or federal government levels. All Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data and face strict penalties if there would be a violation.

So now as we find ourselves in the midst of the Census 2010 campaign, let’s pull together, complete our forms, mail them back and do what’s right for ourselves, our families and our communities.

Let’s stand up and be counted … it matters for now and for the next 10 years!

Dwight Dean is director of the Detroit Regional Census Office. The 2010 Census is the largest domestic mobilization conducted by the federal government and is the basis for the reapportionment of congressional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The census also is used to help distribute more than $400 billion in federal funding to tribal, state and local governments every year.