Thus far, is the 2010 Census a success or failure?
Obviously, for me, the jury is still out on the above question. But on Monday, Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post tackled this question:
At least 72 percent of American households returned their forms to the U.S. Census Bureau this year, matching returns for the 2000 headcount. Final numbers will be announced on Wednesday and Obama administration officials cheered the early numbers late last week as evidence of successful outreach efforts.
But a leading Republican Census critic phoned The Eye within minutes of Friday’s announcement and raised an interesting point:
“This census cost more than double what the census cost in 2000,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). He finds it curious that officials would be happy to only match 2000 figures despite a 2010 budget that was more than three times what was spent ten years ago.
“They spent $300 million on advertising that a lot of us were critical of and they’re getting poor results in the places we know we have problems,” he said, referring to a controversial Census Bureau Super Bowl ad panned by critics.
The agency’s 2010 budget was the same as 2000 on an inflation-adjusted basis, said Census Bureau spokesman Steven Jost.
“We spent just 5 percent more in equivalent dollars this year on a population that was 10 percent bigger,” he said in an e-mail. The 2000 Census was also the first conducted with a paid advertising campaign, so 2010′s headcount needed an equally robust ad strategy to stay even with previous numbers, he said.
In his e-mail Jost listed other reasons for only breaking even with 2000: The country has grown in size and diversity since 2000 and the last headcount was conducted at a time of economic prosperity when Americans had a better opinion of government.
“Most observers of the census during the last several years predicted these factors would make the job tougher in 2010 but so far the public has got us off to a great start,” Jost said, noting that the second part of Census operations kicks off soon when census takers start knocking on doors.
So who’s right? Chaffetz or Jost?
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