Doesn't Make Any Census

Posted: Friday, March 12, 2010 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Tell me..what was your first thought when you received a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau urging you to be sure and fill out and return your 2010 census form which will be arriving in a week or so?
I believe Linda’s words were “I wonder how they can justify sending out all those letters (120 million of them) seems like a waste of money doesn’t it?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. You were wondering the same thing.
The head of the census bureau, Robert Groves, has been getting an earful too from the public over the letters but apparently isn’t phased by all the criticism.
Basically, Groves says we’ve always done it this way and that reaching out with an advance letter will actually SAVE money because if they prod just one percent of the households into completing their forms it will save 85 million dollars in operational costs associated with census takers going door to door following up on households that didn’t.
Well, it better because Minnesota Public Radio’s Bob Collins has been doing the math on the cost of those early mailings.
There were 105,480,101 households in 2000. At 500 sheets of paper per ream, that’s 210,960 reams of paper for the letter. It’s cheap paper though. At forty dollars a case from Office Max total cost is $843,000 for the paper.
Envelopes are another 6.3 million bucks. Finally the cost of mailing. It’s presorted first class meaning the total is $35,335,833.83.
For a grand total cost of sending you a letter to tell you you’re going to get another letter next week is 42.5 million dollars. Oh, sending a postcard would have been $15.8 million cheaper.
Obviously, this is no laughing matter but I did chuckle a bit when I heard one person say that maybe this is part of a White House stimulus package aimed at helping the U.S. Postal Service save Saturday mail delivery.
It just seems to me that the Census Bureau has absolutely no idea of how people would react to the perceived wastefulness of the letter and is another example of bureaucracy being “out of touch.”

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