By Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
If you have not returned the 2010 U.S. Census form you received in the mail in March, you have one more chance, local census officials said.
Military personnel have been specifically encouraged to return the census forms and be counted.
“The goal is to count everyone living in the United States,” said J.D. Dallager, head of the Colorado Springs Census Committee.
The national mail participation rate was 72 percent in 2000, the first increase in returns in three decades. To date, 65 percent of households nationwide have mailed back their census forms, according to the U.S. Census Web site.
In Colorado, so far, there is a 63 percent return rate and El Paso County has a 66 percent return rate. But, a closer look at individual census tracts reveals that Peterson Air Force Base has a 44 percent return rate. There are similar rates in the tracts around the U.S. Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, Mr. Dallager said.
There are more than $400 billion federal dollars available each year and it is divvied up according to a community and state’s population. In today’s economy, “every dollar counts,” Mr. Dallager said.
The Colorado Census Committee calculates that getting 10 percent of Colorado Springs residents counted, who otherwise would not be counted, nets between $300,000 to $500,000 a year.
“I look at it like you are doing something good for your community and you are doing something good for the next decade, for the families who will move in,” Mr. Dallager said.
Most of the nation’s 120 million households, about 90 percent of the U.S. population, received a 10-question form in the mail in March. A second mailing will go out in April to households that have not yet responded.
The 2010 Census form is one of the shortest in U.S. history. It could take as little as five minutes to fill out the form and all of the information is confidential, Mr. Dallager said.
The answers will not be shared with anyone. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ individually identifiable answers with anyone, including tribal housing authorities, other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. Back in the 1980s, the FBI tried to get Colorado Census data and they were refused, he said.
“Once the information gets to the Census Bureau, it gets aggregated, and you can’t identify a household or any individual,” Mr. Dallager said. “From a security standpoint, it is extremely well protected.”
Census takers will soon begin knocking on doors of households where forms have not been returned. All Census takers have been vetted through the civil service, they have taken a life-long oath to keep the information collected confidential and they should be able to provide official Census Bureau identification.
“America’s military personnel are making important sacrifices, their families are making important sacrifices, and we want to count every one of them,” Mr. Dallager said.
If you did not receive a Census form or cannot locate it, visit: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/ to find a “Be Counted” site in your neighborhood, where forms are available. Or, call 866-872-6868.