Despite the threat of service cutbacks and job losses at the US Postal Service that were announced in recent days, the mailing of approximately 100 million “advance letters” appears to have gone off with only a few minor glitches. (See previous post about city names and zip codes being inaccurate in St. Louis!) Yes, this whole mass mailing concept should seem like a fairly simple process, but after the major printing debacle that occurred in 2000 (that could have been fatal to the advance letter process), we taking nothing for granted. Despite some small levels of populist discontent about the Census Bureau “wasting money,” the lack of discussion about the advance letter should be treated as a good thing, in that people are now generally aware that their 2010 Census form will arrive in the mail in one week. Let’s just hope that next week’s mailing, which is clearly the most important one in terms of obtaining data (and saving taxpayers money in the long run) is also a process marked by accuracy and efficiency.
Posts Tagged ‘Advance Letter’
Below are important highlights from an article on STLToday.com:
Advance letters from the U.S. Census Bureau are causing confusion in parts of the St. Louis area that share common ZIP codes.
But census officials said Tuesday that residents and municipal leaders shouldn’t be worried, the information will be correct on the forms, which are set to start arriving Monday.
The one-page notes that residents received this week say the census forms are coming. The notes are part of an $85 million mailing effort to encourage the sending back of the forms. But some of the letters listed incorrect city names, prompting residents and officials to worry about the accuracy of the count.
After the official census forms arrive, reminder postcards will be sent to areas with low responses, said Shelly Lowe, a spokeswoman for the Census Bureau’s national office.
Some residents of O’Fallon and St. Peters received letters with the correct address and ZIP code, but the wrong city name — Cottleville. Cottleville residents are served by some of the same ZIP codes.
Drabelle said the city received at least 20 calls from residents who were concerned about the city name error.
Lisa Bedian, a spokeswoman for St. Peters, reported a similar number of calls. Part of St. Peters borders Cottleville, she said, but some of the residents who called about their letters lived several miles from the border.
“People are worried about whether St. Peters is going to get credit for this,” Bedian said.
She said the city was asking residents to call if they received an incorrect city name on their letters. She said that residents need not leave their names, but that the city was collecting addresses to get a sense of where the letters were sent.
In St. Louis County, some Maryland Heights residents received letters addressed to Hazelwood. The city’s website told residents they would be counted as living in Maryland Heights. Sara Berry, a city spokeswoman, said the city had received a handful of calls.
“We’re trying to get the word out as best we can and let people know to go ahead and fill out their forms,” she said.
Dennis Johnson, a spokesman with the regional office in Kansas City, said an outside contractor prepared the letters using postal data. The city name on the letter will have no effect on the official census form, he said. Johnson said the official census forms had a bar code with information about exactly where the residence was situated. He said the Census Bureau had been working with city and county officials to make sure addresses were accurate.
“It’s not going to affect the population count,” Johnson said. “They will be tabulated properly for each jurisdiction.”
Scott Hanson, city planner in Edwardsville, said his city had had technicians review data from the census to make sure it included recently annexed properties. “We’re keeping a close eye on that,” he said.
The letters generated controversy in 2000, too. That year, they included return envelopes for those who wanted to receive census forms in another language, but no English explanation was printed on the envelope.
The 2010 Census advance letters that were mailed today have started to arrive at homes across America. For questions or comments or complaints, share your thoughts in the comments section here!
The text of the advance letter is as follows:
About one week from now, you will receive a 2010 Census form in the mail.
When you receive your form, please fill it out and mail it in promptly.
Your response is important. Results from the 2010 Census will be used to
help each community get its fair share of government funds for highways,
schools, health facilities, and many other programs you and your neighbors
need. Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive
its fair share. Thank you in advance for your help.
Sincerely, Robert M. Groves
Director, U.S. Census Bureau
The following is a letter from the state of California’s 2010 Census office to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in Washington. (In other related news, 2010 Census boycotts have kick-started in California):
September 28, 2009
Director Katague Sends Letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Locke on Advance Letter
Director Ditas Katague today sent the following letter to Secretary Gary Locke urging reconsideration of the U.S. Census Bureau’s English-only Advance Letter policy:
September 28, 2009
The Honorable Gary Locke
Secretary of Commerce
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Secretary Locke:
It has come to my attention that the U.S. Census Bureau has made the policy decision to send the Advance Letter in English-only in March 2010. The Advance Letter is one of the first official communications coming directly from the U.S. Census Bureau for the decennial census. By not including any in-language instructions or messages, I believe you are missing a huge opportunity to engage limited or non-proficient English speaking households in preparing them for the arrival of the census questionnaire.
I strongly urge you to reconsider this decision, as this decision risks completely missing the opportunity to communicate with those Hard-to-Count populations in our state. Hundreds of languages other than English are spoken at home in California. Based on 2008 American Community Survey (ACS) data, only 19,646,489 out of more than 30 million Californians speak only English . That leaves millions and millions of California residents that could effectively not receive advance notice of the decennial census.
Lastly, we believe that any investment in sending a multi-lingual Advance Letter to Californians will ultimately serve to increase the Mail Back Response Rate (MRR), which will decrease the amount of Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) the Bureau conducts. This could save valuable time and taxpayer money.
Again, I strongly urge you to reconsider your English-only Advance Letter policy immediately so that operations are not impacted and to ensure all Californians are counted.
Director, 2010 Census Statewide Outreach
Governor’s Office of Planning and Research
cc: The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Honorable Diane Feinstein
The Honorable Barbara Boxer
Robert Groves, U.S. Census Bureau Director
B16001. LANGUAGE SPOKEN AT HOME BY ABILITY TO SPEAK ENGLISH FOR THE POPULATION 5 YEARS AND OVER
Universe: POPULATION 5 YEARS AND OVER
Data Set: 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates