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Cornell Program on Applied Demographics

Census 2020: What State and Local governments need to Know




The decennial census has been conducted in years ending in "0" since 1790, as required by the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 2 states that:

"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers . . . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."

More information on the history of decennial census

Importance for state and local governments

An accurate decennial census is important for state and local governments. These bullets are some of the most important reasons why:

The State Data Center (SDC) Program is an important partnership between local communities and the Census Bureau. Their Plan to Plan for 2020 document gives an high level overview of different programs and motivations for local organizations to participate.

This website

The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for organizing the decennial census. It's mantra is to "Count everybody once, only once and in the right place". Added to that is a directive by Congress: do it at the lowest cost possible. Planning a Census is huge undertaking and the process is divided in more manageable operations. In a number of these operations the Census Bureau depends on participation of State and Local governments as that is where local knowledge is which can inform these operations.

This web site attempts to highlight the operations where local involvement is important.

The site is organized by several phases of the census:

  • Establishing boundaries for organizing and publishing Census counts
  • Establishing a list of addresses to send questionnaires to
  • Motivate people to respond to the Census (outreach)
  • The actual counting and responding to the questionnaire
  • Publication of the results
  • Additional: links to state specific web portals
Note: This sites uses a lot of information from the U.S. Census Bureau, but is not endorsed by the Census Bureau. For exact information please go to the Census Bureau website or contact them directly.

Last modified: February 2, 2018