by Constance Daley
St. Simons Island, Ga.
August 17, 2010
WEIGHING IN ON FAT
ATLANTA, Ga. -- One of my responsibilities as regional director is to make sure that taxpayer money is used responsibly. This week, we put a number to our collective good use of federal dollars: The Census Bureau will return not less than $1.6 billion of our budgeted funds for 2010. This figure represents about 22 percent of the total amount Congress gave us to do the job nationally this year.
We have been the beneficiaries of good luck, good management and the good sense of the American people.
Through our 2010 Census communications campaign, we conveyed the message that the simple act of completing and mailing back the form would result in large taxpayer savings. Since the American census is a true headcount, we must undertake the expensive process of sending census workers to follow up with every household that did not return a form. Fortunately, the American people heard us locally and nationally. They exceeded our estimates for the mail response rate of questionnaires, making the costs of the Non-response Follow-up phase much lower than anticipated - a total savings of $650 million. In addition, the temporary census workers we hired here and around the country were just spectacular. They worked more efficiently than we expected and made our field processes go smoothly.
We also saved hundreds of millions due to the good management practices by the 2010 Census career-staff leaders. We had a net savings of $150 million nationally from our other operations, such as the enumeration of Group Quarters, which all came in under budget.
To be fair, about $800 million of savings was due to good fortune. The Census Bureau set aside this large contingency fund for emergencies such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, or a massive H1N1 flu pandemic ? events that might have made it more difficult to hire qualified workers, or to gain the cooperation of the public. With most of the 2010 Census complete, we have sufficient resources to address any contingencies that remain.
I want to thank the residents in this region who fulfilled their civic duty by cooperating with the census. The American people, along with my colleagues at the Census Bureau, deserve hearty congratulations for achieving such outstanding cost efficiencies.
George Grandy, Jr., is Regional Director of the U.S.Census Bureau, Atlanta Region