5 Talking Points About the 2020 Census

It’s official: The 2020 decennial census is underway with the March 12 release of the online self-response form at 2020census.gov. The invitations to take part going out between now and March 20.

The 2020 Census marks the first time you will be invited to respond online — even on your mobile device. That’s not to say that you must take the survey online. You can also respond by phone or mail. Just take part, please.

That’s the message from the Census Bureau. They reached out to GovLoop to ask us to spread the word across the federal, state and local government communities. They believe that government employees can play a valuable role in encouraging their constituents to respond.

Here are five talking points to share with your constituents:

Your response matters.

The results of the census will touch the lives of every community. It will shape how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed annually to local communities – providing support for schools, fire and emergency services, and healthcare services. Census results also determine how many seats each state gets in Congress.

The census is safe, secure and confidential.

The Census Bureau has a legal duty to protect your information. Every employee is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential. This means that your private data is protected and cannot be shared with law enforcement or other government agencies. And the bureau has strong security measures in place to safeguard against cyberthreats.

Volunteer for a Complete Count Committee.

Complete Count Committees help increase awareness of the 2020 Census and motivate the public to respond. The committees are established by tribal, state, and local governments and by community leaders and organizations. They can include representatives of businesses, schools, community organizations, and faith-based groups. Here’s how you can find a Complete Count Committee in your community.

Join the Response Rate Challenge.

Challenge your community to beat its 2010 Census response rate by the end of April – and promote the response rate challenge on social media. The Response Rate Challenge Toolkit can be found here.

Help combat mis- and disinformation about the census.

The U.S. Census Bureau formed a new Trust & Safety Team dedicated to protecting the 2020 Census from misinformation and disinformation. You can help this team by reporting inaccurate, suspicious, or fraudulent information you read, hear, or spot online. Here are some potential red flags:

  • A rumor in a message board or group claiming the information you provide will be publicly disclosed.
  • A post shared on social media discouraging participation in the 2020 Census.
  • A suspicious email requesting your Social Security number or bank account information for the 2020 Census.
  • An advertisement on social media sharing fake 2020 Census websites and inaccurate information.
  • A rumor that the 2020 Census is asking about citizenship status. (The 2020 Census does not ask whether you or anyone in your home is a U.S. citizen.)

Whatever you find, let the Census Bureau know by contacting [email protected].

As someone who follows the use of IT in government, I think it’s cool that the Census Bureau now offers an online response form. That’s a great example of how technology can help constituents have a voice in government. And as an American history buff, I think it’s cool that the federal government has been doing the census for 230 years. Either way, this is history in the making. I hope that you take part and that you encourage others to do so as well.

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