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  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Conducting a Census

    A. What is the Census Bureau doing to promote Census 2000?

    The Census 2000 Partnership and Marketing Program is a multi-faceted effort to remind the general population about the census, educate those members of the public who do not understand the purpose of the census and its significance to their communities, and motivate them to complete their census questionnaires. The Census Bureau recognizes that different segments of the population respond in different ways and with different levels of trust and willingness to participate in the census. The Partnership and Marketing Program incorporates five components designed to reach these populations in the manner most appropriate to each. Together, these components provide many vehicles to reach people many times - in the places where they live, work, go to school, and play.

    The five components of the Partnership and Marketing Program are:

    * The establishment of partnerships with state, local, and tribal governments, community groups, advocacy groups, labor unions, trade and professional associations, service organizations, religious organizations, schools, youth groups, stores/local businesses, chambers of commerce, and media organizations.

    * A direct mail campaign designed to draw attention to the census questionnaire when it arrives in people's mailboxes.

    * A paid advertising campaign to generate awareness about Census 2000 via print, broadcast and outdoor advertising.

    * A media relations campaign to encourage positive, informative coverage emphasizing the importance of responding to the census.

    * Promotions and special events to provide non-threatening, fun, educational activities in communities and schools, particularly in hard-to-enumerate areas.

    Examples of the many opportunities for partners' participation in the census include having local governments participate in the compilation of address lists; sponsoring workshops, conferences, speaker bureaus, and community meetings; developing and distributing materials to constituents/clients/members endorsing the census and explaining the importance of participating; generating positive media coverage about the census; recruiting community members to work as address listers, enumerators, and Questionnaire Assistance staff; donating space, such as space for training and Questionnaire Assistance Centers; and providing advice and support to the Census Bureau on the development of data collection strategies, particularly with regard to hard-to-enumerate populations.

    B. How will Telephone Questionnaire Assistance (TQA) operators handle callers who have difficulty completing the long form questionnaire?

    The Census Bureau has decided not to conduct long form questionnaire interviews by telephone. This decision reflects the need to scale back the requirements for the TQA Program in a manner consistent with the available level of funding. The operator will inform the caller that an enumerator will collect their long form data during a subsequent follow-up operation. The long form holders will only receive assistance, whereas the short form holders will be interviewed.

    The TQA operators will provide assistance or conduct interviews for the short form questionnaires.

    C. Why don't you have a lottery to increase cooperation with the census?

    After the 1990 census, the Census Bureau appointed a Sweepstakes Committee to investigate the issues and questions of using a sweepstakes to increase participation in the census. After consideration of legal and other issues relating to this approach and meeting with representatives of a corporation involved with sweepstakes, the Committee made its recommendation that we should not proceed with research and development on this concept.

    D. Census workers recently contacted our house but asked only about our address. Why are they collecting addresses more than a year before the Census?

    Census workers are updating our address lists that were obtained primarily from the U.S. Postal Service and the 1990 census address list. Postal Service letter carriers also will check the final mailing lists for Census 2000 just before they deliver the questionnaires to ensure that all housing units to which they deliver mail receive a form. In areas without house numbers and street names, census workers list the address of each housing unit or other structure they see where a person lives or could live, note on their map the location of each housing unit, and update the map they are using with any new streets or street names. Census workers can locate housing to deliver, or leave or complete a questionnaire.

    E. What type of automation is being incorporated in Census 2000?

    The major features of automation for Census 2000 include data capture methodology that will accommodate the use of respondent-friendly questionnaires. The Census Bureau has identified components of the data capture process that may be best performed by private-sector partners although it will not limit itself to creating in-house solutions. The Census Bureau will take advantage of available commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software representing advancements in information technology and systems.

    The Census Bureau will operate the National Processing Center and work with contractors who will operate three processing centers responsible for data capture functions including:

    * A full electronic data capture and processing system to record an image of every questionnaire

    * Questionnaires returned by mail will be sorted automatically to ensure timely capture of critical information needed before nonresponse follow-up (census workers enumerate addresses for which we have not received a completed questionnaire).

    * Optical mark recognition will be used for all check-box data items.

    * Intelligent character recognition (ICR) will be used to capture write-in character-based data items.

    * A clerical keying operation will capture and resolve difficult ICR cases.

    * A quality assurance review will be conducted on data keying and scanning activities.

    * The use of electronic imaging and captured data will reduce the logistical and staffing requirements that handling large volumes of paper questionnaires would require.

    F. How does the Census Bureau plan to use sampling now that the Supreme Court has prohibited its use?

    On January 25, 1999, the Supreme Court upheld '195, Title 13, United States Code, prohibiting the Census Bureau from using statistical sampling to determine the population count for congressional apportionment purposes (No. 98-564, Clinton, President of the United States, et al. v. Glavin et al., on appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia).

    Though the Court's decision does affect the way in which the Census Bureau uses sampling to collect additional information, the Census Bureau will use a sampling ratio of about one long form (sample) questionnaire for every six households to obtain sample data on content as it has in previous censuses. We plan to include sample questions on place of birth, work status last year, income, ancestry, monthly rent, veteran status, disability, plumbing and kitchen facilities, and others. This sample for content provides the necessary data to produce a wide array of information for redistricting and supply data on social, economic, physical characteristics of housing, and financial characteristics.

    G. What are some of the important milestone dates for conducting the census?



    Mail Delivery The mail delivery strategy includes an advance letter, questionnaire mailout, and a reminder card for nonrespondents. 
    3/3/00 3/22/00 Update/Leave This is conducted in areas with predominately non-city-style addresses. Census workers will deliver the questionnaires to housing units and at the same time update their list of addresses of the units in their assignment area.
    1/31/00 5/1/00 List/Enumeration (Including Alaska) Enumerators will visit each household in very remote or very sparsely populated areas (e.g. remote Alaska). Census maps will be updated, interviews conducted, and each address/location will be listed.
    3/3/00 7/7/00 Telephone Questionnaire Assistance (TQA) A toll-free telephone service will be provided by a commercial phone center to provide respondents assistance completing their Census 2000 questionnaires. Assistance will be available in several languages.
    4/27/00 7/7/00 Nonresponse Followup (NFRU) Enumerators begin follow-up on addresses for which we have not received a completed questionnaire.
    7/27/00 8/15/00 Coverage Improvement Followup The purpose of this operation is to improve coverage of persons in housing units potentially classified in error during NRFU. Census staff will re-visit these addresses, determine the status of the address as of Census Day.
    3/7/00 8/24/00 Data Capture The operation to convert the responses on the census questionnaires into computer processed data.
    12/31/00 12/31/00 Delivery of Apportionment Data By legal mandate, apportionment data will be delivered to the President of the United States.
    2/12/01 3/21/01 Redistricting Data Complete the release of redistricting data to the states.

    H. What is the Census Bureau doing to provide non-English language assistance?

    Those households who receive the census form in the mail will have the option of requesting the questionnaire in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean. Those individuals or households who believe that they were not included on a form or did not receive a form can use the Be Counted questionnaires that will be available in public areas. The Be Counted forms will be printed in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean.

    The Census Bureau is also launching the Census 2000 Language Program. The goal is to provide census information and to overcome language barriers that might prevent any individual from full participation in the decennial census. Census 2000 Language Assistance Guides will use visual aids to assist respondents completing the Census 2000 mail/out/back questionnaires. Two separate guides for both the long and short form questionnaire will be created and printed for each of the following languages:

    I. Are there differences in the ways you count big cities and small rural towns?

    Improving our address list is a key element in making sure we reach people everywhere in the U.S. Partnerships with local governments and American Indian tribal officials is the first step in making sure our address list is as accurate as possible. Every address will receive a letter in advance of the census, the questionnaire, and a thank you/reminder card, but the way these items are delivered will vary between big cities and rural areas.

    In places where street addresses are used for mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, we will mail the questionnaire to the residence. In rural areas where rural route/box number, post office box, and/or general delivery addresses are used, enumerators will canvass each block before the census to create an address list of all living quarters. At the time of the census, enumerators will deliver questionnaires to each address and check the address list again to ensure that it includes every housing unit.

    J. Why are the address list and maps so important for Census 2000?

    The address list and related maps are the foundation of a complete and accurate census. Some of the people not counted in the 1990 census were missed because the Census Bureau did not know their housing units existed. A complete address list will ensure that Census 2000 will be accurate. Up-to-date maps will help the Census Bureau verify where each housing unit is located.

    K. Can the local or tribal government use the address list for other purposes?

    The only purpose for which this address list can be used is to conduct Census 2000 and other Census Bureau programs. Only individuals who agree, under oath, to keep the address information confidential may review the address list.

    By law (Title 13, United States Code), the Census Bureau cannot share the individual answers it receives with others, including welfare agencies, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Internal Revenue Service, courts, or police. The military personnel who help with the census on-base are sworn to protect the confidentiality of your answers. Anyone who breaks this law can receive up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. The law works - millions of questionnaires were processed during the 1990s without any breach of trust.

    L. Will the Census Bureau provide funds to support local or tribal address lists and map review activities?

    The Census Bureau has no funding to reimburse local or tribal governments for money or staff time they spend on address list and map review activities. This is a partnership program. The participating government agrees to review and update these materials. Better maps and a better address list will lead to a better census, which will assure that local and tribal governments receive their full allocation of federal funding based on population.

    Participating governments should contact their Census Bureau regional offices by electronic mail or telephone with any questions. The Census Bureau established a help desk at 1-888-879-6656 for localities with computer readable files and this number will remain operational until at least August 2000. The Census Bureau has offered regional planning agencies and the State Data Centers the opportunity to assist the Census Bureau in implementing the program.

    II. Participation in the Census

    A. Why should people fill out their census forms?

    Participating in the census is in the individuals' own self interest. People who answer the census help their communities obtain federal and state funding and valuable information for planning schools, hospitals, roads, and more. For example, census information helps decision makers understand which neighborhoods need new schools and which ones need greater services for the elderly. But they will not be able to tell what your neighborhood needs if you do not fill out your census form.

    B. How is the privacy of the respondents protected?

    The numbers we publish are combined with thousands of answers from people in your neighborhood and across the country. No one, except sworn Census Bureau employees, can see your questionnaire or link your name with your responses. In fact, the law provides severe penalties for any census employee that makes your answers known.

    III. The Census Questionnaire

    A. Why does the census form have room for only six people?

    The Census Bureau decided to adopt a six-person questionnaire for Census 2000, which would apply to both the short and long-form questionnaires. Planning estimates put the number of mailback households with seven or more persons at slightly more than one million households versus about four million households with six or more persons.

    B. Why do census forms have so many questions?

    Every question in Census 2000 is required by law to manage or evaluate federal programs or is needed to meet legal requirements stemming from U.S. court decisions such as the Voting Act. In addition, the data collected by them is as much a part of our Nation's infrastructure as highways and telephone lines. Federal dollars supporting schools, employment services, housing assistance, highway construction, hospital services, programs for the elderly, and more are distributed based on census data.

    C. How much money is distributed by the federal government based on the census?

    Twenty-two of the 25 largest Federal funding grant programs of fiscal year 1998 are responsible for $162 billion being distributed to state, local, and tribal governments, and about half of this money was distributed using formulas involving census population data, according to a report by the General Accounting Office. We expect that at least $182 billion will be distributed based on formulas using Census 2000 data.

    D. Why does the Census need to know about race?

    Race is key to implementing any number of federal programs and it is critical for the basic research behind numerous policy decisions. States require these data to meet legislative redistricting requirements. Also, they are needed to monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act by local jurisdictions. Race data are required by federal programs that promote equal employment opportunity and to assess racial disparities in health and environmental risks. The Census Bureau has included a question on race since the first census in 1790.

    E. Why does the Census Bureau collect information on Hispanic origin?

    The 1970 decennial census was the first to have a question on Hispanic origin on the sample or "long" census form. Since 1980 this question has appeared on the 100 percent or "short" form. Hispanic origin data are needed for the implementation of a number of federal statutes such as the enforcement of bilingual election rules under the Voting Rights Act and the monitoring and enforcement of equal employment opportunities under the Civil Rights Act. Additionally, information on people of Hispanic origin is needed by local governments to run programs and meet legislative requirements at the community level. For example, these data are used to help identify segments of the population who may not be receiving medical services under the Public Health Act or to evaluate whether financial institutions are meeting credit needs of minority populations under the Community Reinvestment Act.

    F. What questions are on the census forms?

    The following questions will be on the short form (100%) questionnaire that everyone receives: Tenure (whether a housing unit is owned or rented), Name, Sex, Age, Relationship to household, Hispanic Origin, and Race. The long form (sample) questionnaire, which goes to an average of one in six households, has the short form questions plus additional questions on the following subjects:

    Social characteristics of Population: marital status, place of birth/citizenship/year of entry, education-school enrollment/educational attainment, ancestry, residence 5 years ago (migration), language spoken at home, veteran status, disability, grandparents as caregivers.

    Economic characteristics of Population: labor force status (current), place of work and journey to work, work status last year, industry/occupation/class of worker, income (previous year).

    Physical characteristics of Housing: units in structure, number of rooms, number of bedrooms, plumbing and kitchen facilities, year structure built, year moved into unit, house heating fuel, telephone, vehicles available, farm residence.

    Financial characteristics of Housing: value of home, monthly rent, shelter costs (selected monthly owner costs).

    G. How much does it cost to obtain the long form (sample) data?

    The long form is a cost effective tool for gathering information needed to evaluate and implement federal and state programs. In 1990, the long form added only 11 to 19 percent to the total cost of the census, according to a National Academy of Sciences panel.

    H. Does the long form questionnaire decrease the response rate?

    Before 1940, everyone had to answer all the questions that the census collected. The long form questions - asked only of a sample of households - was introduced as a way to collect more data, more rapidly, without increasing respondent burden.

    The National Academy of Science's Panel on Census Requirements in the Year 2000 and Beyond looked at the question of whether the long form discourages participation in the census. They found that the difference in mail return rates between the long and short forms in 1990 reduced the overall mail return rate by less than one percentage point.

    I. Why do you have one question on race and another question on Hispanic origin?

    The Census Bureau considered using a combined race and Hispanic origin question in the 1990 Census. On October 30, 1997 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued "Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity." All federal agencies, including the Census Bureau, who collect and report data on race and ethnicity must follow these standards. Race and ethnicity are considered to be two separate and distinct concepts in this standard, and OMB accepted the Interagency Committee for the Review of the Racial and Ethnic Standards recommendation that two separate questions -- one for race and one for ethnicity or Hispanic origin -- be used whenever feasible to provide flexibility and ensure data quality.

    J. Does the Census Bureau collect data on Hispanic subgroups other than Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban?

    Yes. In Census 2000, like in the 1990 census, the Hispanic origin question has a write-in line which is used to obtain write-in responses of Hispanic subgroups other than the major groups of Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Ricans. Persons with other Hispanic origins such as Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, Argentinean, and so on, will be able to write in their specific origin group. In fact, the Census Bureau's code list contains over 30 Hispanic or Latino subgroups. For Census 2000 maximum detail on Hispanic subgroups will be made available in micro data files while data products containing tabulations will report less detail information.

    K. How does the layout of the race question correspond to the changes in the classification of race as directed by OMB?

    Unlike the 1990 census, the Asian or Pacific Islander category will be separated into two categories - "Asian" and "Native Hawaiian" or "Other Pacific Islander". Also, the wording of the question "Mark one or more races..." and the wording and placement of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (Guamanian, Samoan, other categories) corresponds to the classification changes in race by OMB.

    L. Why were some questions on the 1990 form deleted from the 2000?

    Deciding which subjects to include is an interactive process involving the Census Bureau, the Office of Management and Budget, and the U.S. Congress. To balance concerns about the intrusiveness of the decennial census, the many requirements placed on federal agencies, and the needs of state, local, and tribal governments to manage programs, only those subjects that had specific federal legislative justification were recommended for Census 2000.

    M. Why were some of the questions on the 1990 short form moved to the Census 2000 long form?

    For Census 2000, the Census Bureau has proposed subjects on the short form only when data are both needed in response to legislative requirements and required at the block level - the smallest level of geography for which we report information. Therefore, we moved five subjects that were asked of every housing unit in 1990 to the long form, which will go out to a sample of housing units in 2000. These subjects include marital status, units in structure, number of rooms, value of home, and monthly rent.

    N. Why did you add questions to the Census 2000 form that were not in the 1990 Census?

    Only one new subject was added to the Census 2000 questionnaire: grandparents as caregivers. This addition complies with legislation passed by the 104th Congress requiring that the decennial census obtain information about grandparents who have primary responsibility for care of grandchildren (Title 13, United States Code, Chapter 5, Section 141).

    O. What have you done to make it easier to fill out the form?

    The Census Bureau has been working with private sector designers to produce forms that are easy to read and understand, simple to fill out and mail back, and help people understand the importance of answering the census. Some of the user-friendly features include the following:

    * Symbols to help guide;

    * A larger, easier to read type face;

    * Navigational aids to guide the respondent through the questionnaire;

    * Instructions written directly on the form instead of in a separate guide; and

    * Graphics that illustrate census benefits.

    P. What are the specific differences in the way you are planning to conduct the 2000 census from the way it was done in 1990?

    Although there are many aspects of Census 2000 that are different from the 1990 Census, the key differences are:

    * Using address information provided by the U.S. Postal Service.

    * Asking state, local, and tribal governments to help correct census maps and address lists.

    * First-time utilizing paid advertising by extremely qualified experts.

    * Creating a new "user-friendly" questionnaire that will be simpler and easier for respondents to understand and fill out.

    * Digitally capturing of forms enabling us to scan responses directly into computers that can read handwriting.

    * Using "matching" software that allows us to check individual blocks and identify multiple responses from the same household. This allows the Census Bureau to provid more opportunities for the public to respond, including placing forms called "Be Counted" documents in community locations across the country.

    Q. How long does it take to complete the forms?

    Compared with 1990, there is a significant improvement in the estimated time required to complete both the short and long forms. In 1990, it was estimated to take 14 minutes to complete the short form and 43 minutes to complete the long form. For Census 2000, it will only take about 10 minutes to complete the short form and 38 minutes for the long form.

    R. Isn't there an easier way that would take less time and money, such as use of public records or private companies, to compile the population figures?

    No other government agency has information on every person in the United States. And no private company is equipped to bring on the number of temporary workers needed to take the census. Some people think that the Postal Service ought to do the census. The Postal Service delivers all the questionnaires that are mailed to individual addresses and picks up and returns the bulk of them. But we still need to hire temporary workers to visit those households that do not mail back a questionnaire. The key job for postal workers is to assist the U.S. Census in developing the address list and to locate mailboxes. Right now, the best way for American taxpayers to save money on the census is to fill out and mail back their census questionnaire.

    IV. Census 2000 Data

    A. When will data from the census be available?

    For data products required by law [Title 13, United States Code], we will deliver the products on or before the specified dates. These data products include delivery of the state population counts to the President within nine months of Census Day (on or before December 31, 2000). These counts are used to reapportion the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    P.L 94-171 requires the Census Bureau to provide selected census tabulations to the states by April 1 of the year following the census year. States use these tabulations for redistricting; that is, to redraw the boundaries of Congressional districts as well as other areas used for state and local elections. Under the Voting Rights Act, the Census Bureau is required to provide the states with race and ethnic data for small geographic areas to be used for the redistricting process specified in P.L. 94-171.

    Other products will be released on a flow basis from June, 2001, through September, 2003.

    B. How will data from Census 2000 be made available?

    Census 2000 data will be disseminated mainly using a new data retrieval system called the American FactFinder (AFF). Census 2000 data products will be available on a flow basis beginning January 2001. The American FactFinder will be accessible to the widest possible array of users through the Internet, through intermediaries, including the nearly 1,800 State Data Centers and affiliates, the 1,400 Federal Depository libraries and other libraries, universities, and private organizations.

    The American FactFinder will find and retrieve the information needed at the geography of choice from some of the largest census databases. The American FactFinder is accessible directly from the Census Bureau's new website.

    Census 2000 will offer five categories of products:

                        Demographic Profiles for both 100 percent and sample data
                        (AFF; CD-ROM; print); and Congressional District Profiles, for
                        both 100 percent and sample data( AFF; CD-ROM; print by special request).
                        Printed Reports
                        Demographic Profiles and Table Shells (AFF; CD-ROM; print)
                        Populations Totals (AFF, CD-ROM, print by special request).
                        Electronic Files
                        Redistricting Data Public Law 94-171 Summary File (AFF; CD-ROM;
                        print by special request); 100 percent Summary File (AFF; CD-ROM;)
                        Sample Summary File (AFF; CD-ROM)
                        Congressional District Summary Files (AFF: CD-ROM)
                        Quick Tables and Geographic Summary Tables
                        (AFF; some CD-ROM; some in print).

                        Microdata Files
                        Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) 5% File (AFF; CD-ROM)
                        Full microdata tabulations (AFF).
    Finding Traditional 1990 Census Products in Census 2000
    1990 Title Description 2000
    Population and 
    Housing Unit Counts
    CPH-2 Reports Historical population and housing totals with boundary and annexation information  Printed Reports
    Population and Housing Characteristics for Census Tracts and Block Numbering CPH-3 Reports Both 100 percent and sample population and housing data published for each MSA/PMSA portion of each state American FactFinder Summary Files & Quick Tables
    Census of Population and Census of Housing Reports for Metropolitan Areas and Urbanized Areas CP-1, 




    Population and housing for metro and urban areas Printed Reports & Quick Tables
    Subject Summary Tape Files and Subject Reports SSTS 



    Includes electronic files and some corresponding reports covering specific populations and housing subjects and subgroups American FactFinder 
    custom cross-tabula- tions
    Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Basic EEO File Tabulations for detailed occupations, educational attainment, age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin Census Bureau analysts working with federal agencies through reimbursable tabulation agreements
    County-to-County Migration File County-to-County Migration File A reimbursable product preceded the release of the standard product Census Bureau analysts working with reimbursable tabulations agreements
    Zip Code File STF3B Census Bureau purchased equivalency ZIP Code file to produce STF3 American FactFinder

    C. What Hispanic origin data will be available?

    The Census Bureau is in the process of planning data products for Census 2000. Most of our products will be released through the American FactFinder. We are in the process of identifying the content and presentation of these data. Generally, we plan to release some of the data products that were available in the 1990 census.

    The release of special reports will depend on internal and external funding. We plan to seek outside money from stakeholders that wish us to focus on a particular population group and/or issue.

    D. What kind of data will the Cenus Bureau provide on people without housing?

    For Census 2000, the Census Bureau will produce only one category showing the number of persons tabulated at "Emergency and transitional shelters." The category will include people enumerated at:

    * Shelters with sleeping facilities, low-cost hotels and motels, and hotels/motels used by cities to house the homeless regardless of cost.

    * Shelters for abused women (only for persons who report no other usual home).

    * Transient sites, such as commercial campgrounds (only for persons who report no other usual home).

    * Maternity homes (only for persons who report no other usual home).

    People enumerated at soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans, and targeted non-sheltered outdoor locations and Be Counted sites will be tabulated into the category called "Other noninstitutional group quarters population."

    E. How will we collect information on the homeless?

    An operation called Service-Based Enumeration (SBE) is designed to provide people with no usual residence, who might not be included through other enumeration methods, an opportunity to be enumerated. Additionally, people with no usual residence will be able to pick up Be Counted questionnaires at selected non-SBE service locations, such as travelers' aid centers and health care clinics.

    F. Will the Census 2000 count Americans overseas?

    For Census 2000, we intend to use the same procedures as we used for the 1990 census. We will enumerate U.S. citizens overseas who are working for the U.S. Government, and their dependents living with them, primarily through the use of administrative records from the military and the employing federal agencies. Private U.S. citizens living overseas who are not affiliated with the U.S. Government will not be included in Census 2000.

    Efforts to obtain voluntary reports from private U.S. citizens living abroad for an extended period were abandoned after the 1970 census, primarily because of data quality problems. A substantial portion of the private American citizens did not report a home state. In addition, any verification procedure would be very time-consuming and costly. The cost of an effort of this magnitude is uncertain.

    G. Will people of mixed racial or ethnic heritage be able to identify themselves on the form?

    Yes. In October 1997 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued revised federal standards for collecting and presenting data on race and ethnicity. Among other changes, the standards allow respondents when answering the race question option to "mark or select one or more races." The OMB made this modification after considering recommendations from its Interagency Committee for the Review of Racial and Ethnic Standards, information obtained through public hearings and other sources of public opinion, and test results from the Census Bureau and other federal agencies.

    H. If respondents are allowed to mark more than one racial category, how will that response and reporting of race?

    In the 1996 Census Survey, the Census Bureau tested revisions to the questionnaire that would allow multiple responses to the race question. There was no evidence that any of these experimental treatments had a negative effect on the final mail response rates. Also, we do no expect the instruction "mark one or more" to significantly affect reporting of race, because fewer than two percent of respondents in recent tests used this option.

    I. How do I Answer the question on Race?

    Each respondent decides his or her racial identity. For the first time ever, people with mixed racial heritage may select more than one racial category. The groups shown in the census race question can be collapsed into the minimum race categories needed by the federal government: "White," "Black or African American," "American Indian and Alaska Native," "Asian," and "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander." People who mark the American Indian or Alaska Native category are asked to provide the name of their principal or enrolled tribe. People who select the "Other Asian," "Other Pacific Islander," or "Some other race" are asked to write-in their specific race.

    J. How Should Hispanics Answer the Race question?

    People of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Hispanics can choose one or more race categories, including White, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. If someone does not identify with any of the specified race groups, he or she may mark the "Some other race" category and write-in their race.

    K. Does Everyone Need to Answer the Question on Hispanic Origin?

    Yes, the Hispanic origin question must be answered by EVERYONE. Those who are not of Hispanic origin are asked to mark the box "NO, not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino." People who are of Hispanic origin are asked to indicate the specific group they belong to: Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or other groups, such as Spanish, Honduran, or Venezuelan.

    V. About the Census Bureau

    A. What does the Census Bureau do between censuses?

    The decennial census is well known because it is a national event that involves everyone. However, the Census Bureau conducts numerous other censuses and surveys for government, private entities, and individuals as well as tabulating the decennial data and publishing the tables and data. These activities include the planning, preparation, conducting, and publishing of data for numerous economic and demographic surveys and censuses, such as the Census of Manufactures, American Housing Survey, Consumer Expenditure Survey; 1997 Economic Census:Numerical List of Manufactured & Mining Products; Survey of Income and Program Participation; U.S. Merchandise Trade: Exports, General Imports, and Imports for Consumption; Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders to list just a few.

    Source: U.S. Census Bureau