This briefing by Dr. Robert Groves, Director of the Census Bureau, was held in an area that normally plays host to diners in the National Press Club’s restaurant.
It’s Groves’ first such press briefing since being confirmed by the Senate. And talking about the census forms, which are rolling off the Government Printing Office presses right now, Groves says one of the questions is a sobering reminder of tough economic times across the country:
“It’s a question about whether there are people staying in your home who also have a residence elsewhere. We’re going through a recession in this country where houses are ‘doubled up’ in ways that are unusual. That question is going to be an important way for us to follow up and evaluate, and help people follow the rules of census residency.”
Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club on Wednesday, Groves says the paper questionnaires for the Census are among the shortest in the bureau’s history. He says its an effort to encourage busy Americans to fill out their Census forms.
Groves also said for the first time, the Census Bureau is sending out questionnaires with both English and Spanish printed on them. Its an effort, he says, to get the nation’s burgeoning Hispanic population to participate in the annual count.
The director also believes that the hand-held computers which were the subject of so much controversy last year, actually worked well for the job they were inevitably used for.
The handhelds are only being used for the recently completed “address canvass survey” in which census workers create a ‘master list’ of every house, apartment, and residence in the country, and upon which the actual work of the census is based.
Finally, Groves announced that starting next month, the Census Bureau will now begin monthly news briefings on the progress towards the 2010 census.
The population figures, gathered every 10 years, are used to apportion House seats and distribute nearly $450 billion in federal aid.