Friday, October 2, 2009

CENSUS NEWS BRIEF #77

October 1, 2009 No. 77

IN THIS CENSUS NEWS BRIEF:


Census Bureau Expands In-Language 2010 Census Messages
Republican Lawmakers Target Census Partnership With SEIU
Continuing Funding Resolution Includes Adequate Census Funding
Stakeholder Activities: Latino Census Campaign Launches Web Site

CENSUS 'ADVANCE LETTER' WILL INCLUDE
IN-LANGUAGE MESSAGES



Republicans target 2010 Census partnership with labor union
Stop-gap funding bill keeps 2010 census prep on track

Latino census campaign launches web site

CENSUS BUREAU CHANGES PLAN; ADVANCE LETTER
WILL INCLUDE IN-LANGUAGE MESSAGES


Targeted Follow-Up Postcard Will Promote Toll-Free Help

The Census Bureau has decided to include messages in languages other than English on the advance letter sent to all households next winter, announcing the start of the census and the imminent arrival of census forms at each home. The revised letter will direct recipients, in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian, as well as English, to the 2010 Census web site for assistance in filling out the questionnaire. The 2010 Census Web site is scheduled to launch later this month.

The bureau also is adding a targeted follow-up mailing to its outreach arsenal, to reach households in census tracts where at least ten percent of households speak primarily Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, or Russian. The new postcard, which will be mailed within days of the census forms, will feature messages in all six questionnaire languages, telling recipients to call a toll-free number for assistance.

Census questionnaires are available in the six languages mentioned above. The Census Bureau will mail or hand-deliver English language questionnaires to most addresses next March (some remote and rural areas will receive forms in late January or February); for the first time, about 13.5 million addresses in census tracts where a significant portion of households primarily speak Spanish at home will receive a bilingual English-Spanish questionnaire.

The Census Bureau's web site already offers 2010 census assistance guides in 59 languages, compared to 49 such guides offered in 2000. The paid advertising campaign will include messages in 28 languages, up from 17 languages in the 2000 census.

In a memorandum to the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, Census Director Robert Groves said he agreed with the recommendations of a committee working group tasked last summer with reviewing the agency's decision to send an English-only advance letter, a change from 2000 that drew significant concern from many stakeholder organizations and some local officials. Dr. Groves said the decision to restore the in-language messages was "feasible and efficient" and that the full language assistance program "is designed to raise awareness of the 2010 Census in every household, even the hardest to count, and to encourage everyone to complete and return a census form."

The Census Bureau also is exploring ways to offer a "locator" feature on its 2010 Census Web site, to help people identify close-by Questionnaire Assistance Centers, Dr. Groves said. The director highlighted plans for paid advertising on in-language web sites, as well as negotiations with in-language newspapers and magazines to include relevant language assistance guides with home deliveries.

For a summary of recent stakeholder concerns about the prospective absence of in-language messages on the census advance letter, see Census News Brief #73 http://www.thecensusproject.org/newsbriefs/cnb73-08sept2009.html.

REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS URGE CENSUS BUREAU TO
END PARTNERSHIP WITH SEIU


Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is urging the Census Bureau to "immediately terminate" its 2010 census partnership with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), citing what the congressman said was the labor union's support for and "intimate financial relationship" with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Rep. Kirk was joined by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) in sending a letter, along with "research material" outlining "SEIU-ACORN links," to Census Director Robert Groves earlier this week.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the senior Republican member on the House census oversight subcommittee, also called on the Census Bureau "to follow through on [its] commitment" to ensure "a census of the highest integrity," citing Dr. Groves' recent decision to end the 2010 census partnership agreement with ACORN.

SEIU represents 2.1 million workers in the health care, property services, and public services sectors, according to the organization's web site. The Newport News (VA) Daily Press reported on September 29 that Rep. Kirk, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by President Obama, acknowledged receiving political contributions from SEIU in the past and would donate a similar amount to charity. SEIU endorsed a Democratic candidate for the Senate race last week, according to a September 28 Chicago Sun-Times article.

Rep. Kirk's press statement and letter to Dr. Groves is available at http://kirk.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3689&Itemid=88. See Census News Brief #75 http://www.thecensusproject.org/newsbriefs/cnb75-21sept2009.html for information on the Census Bureau's termination of ACORN's 2010 census partnership.

NEWS FROM CAPITOL HILL

Temporary funding bill keeps census prep on track
Senate hearing to focus on key census operations


Congress approves higher census funding in stop-gap bill: Congress exempted the Census Bureau from flat-line funding in a one-month temporary funding measure that will keep the Federal government running while lawmakers work to complete the twelve regular appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2010, which started October 1. The Senate approved the bill, by a vote of 62 - 38, on September 30.

The "Continuing Resolution" (H.R. 2918) allocates $7.066 billion for the Census Bureau's Periodic Censuses and Programs ("Periodics") account, which covers the decennial census and other cyclical surveys, such as the quinquennial Economic Census. The amount is $50 million below the Administration's budget request, reflecting appropriators' belief that mileage reimbursement rates for census field workers next spring would be less than predicted. Under the Continuing Resolution, most federal agencies and programs are funded at Fiscal Year 2009 levels; Congress carved out an exception (called an "anomaly") for the Census Bureau, a nod to the need for significantly more resources during the final ramp-up to the 2010 population and housing count.

Congress will now continue work on the Fiscal Year 2010 Commerce, Justice, and Science bill, which includes the Census Bureau. The House-passed version allocates $6.91 billion for Periodic Censuses, $206 million less than the Administration requested. The full Senate has not yet considered the measure; once it does, House and Senate negotiators must reconcile their versions of the funding bill in a conference committee.

Senate subcommittee hearing will focus on final census preparations: The Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security, which has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau, will hold a hearing on October 7 to review the status of 2010 census operations, including plans to ensure a complete count in Gulf Coast communities recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Census Director Robert Groves, Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser, and Government Accountability Office Strategic Issues Director Robert Goldenkoff will testify. The hearing will start at 3:00PM in Room 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

STAKEHOLDER ACTIVITIES

Latino census campaign launches web site: Leading Latino organizations, elected officials, labor leaders, faith-based groups, and Spanish language media companies announced the launch of the "ya es hora ¡HAGASE CONTAR!" ("It's Time, Make Yourself Count!") web site to promote participation in the 2010 census among the nation's 47 million Hispanics. The bilingual web site, , features fact sheets on the importance of the census, answers to frequently asked questions, and sample census questionnaires.

Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO), called a full count of the nation's Latino population "critical to recognizing our nation's diversity and to building future political strength." Laura Barrera, NALEO's Deputy Director for Census, described the initiative as "a historic partnership of national Spanish-language media and prominent Latino organizations ... to enhance the [Census] Bureau's efforts to count Latinos."

Partner organizations in the "ya es hora" campaign include the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, NALEO, National Council of La Raza, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, Dominican American National Roundtable, Service Employees International Union, and several media companies, including Univision Communications, Inc., Entravision Communications, and impreMedia. A public service announcement promoting the importance of census participation began airing today on major Spanish-language media.

Univision Network News anchorwoman Maria Elena Salinas said that the collaborative effort would help the media company "reach and educate Hispanic America about the connection between participation in the Census and achieving full funding and a strong political voice for our communities." Census Director Robert Groves, who participated in today's announcement, said community-based initiatives would help the Census Bureau "in spreading the word that the 2010 Census is easy, important, and safe."

Census News Briefs are prepared by Terri Ann Lowenthal, an independent legislative and policy consultant specializing in the census and federal statistics. All views expressed in the News Briefs are solely those of the author. Please direct questions about the information in this News Brief to Ms. Lowenthal at TerriAnn2K@aol.com. Please feel free to circulate this document to other interested individuals and organizations. Ms. Lowenthal is a consultant to the nonpartisan Census Project, organized by the Communications Consortium Media Center in Washington, DC. Previous Census News Briefs are posted at www.thecensusproject.org.


Contact Information:
TerriAnn2K@aol.com
Phone: 203-353-4364

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