COVINGTON - The U.S. Census Bureau launched a massive operation Monday to verify and update more than 145 million addresses as it prepares to conduct the 2010 Census.
The general public will have little to no involvement in the operation for the most part, but should be aware that Census workers will be canvassing their neighborhoods in the coming months, said Manuel Landivar, assistant regional census manager for the Atlanta office.
"This is not the census. This is preparation for the census," Landivar said. "There will be very little contact with the public. Less than 10 percent of the time will anybody be knocking on doors and asking questions."
What census workers will be doing is walking through neighborhoods with hand-held computers verifying and updating the current address list. If it appears there have been changes, such as a single-family home now containing more than one housing unit, workers may ask residents to answer questions about additional living quarters.
Census questionnaires will be mailed out in March 2010 to every residence in the country. Those who do not respond, usually about 35 percent of the population, will receive a follow-up visit from a census worker.
"That's 50 million addresses. That's a lot of people to go after," Landivar said. "The best way to prepare for the census is we create an address list."
That's what the operation beginning Monday is all about. Address canvassing will be taking place across the country through July.
"You're going to see these folks doing some strange things, like looking at homes and using hand-held computers. They're obviously going to draw some attention to themselves," Landivar said.
Census workers can be identified by an official Census Bureau badge they will carry. They will also have a canvass bag emblazoned with "U.S. Census Bureau."
Workers will not ask for bank or Social Security information. Any information collected by census workers is confidential and protected by law. Census workers are prohibited by law from sharing respondents' answers with the FBI, the IRS, CIA and welfare, immigration or any other government agency.
All census employees take an oath for life to keep information confidential. Any violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison.
Every effort is made to hire locals for census operations, Landivar said. While recruiting has already been completed for the upcoming address canvassing, recruiting for other operations will begin in the fall. For more information, call 1-866-861-2010. Landivar stressed that no information will be available until closer to recruitment time.