U.S. Census Bureau and Wasteful Spending

Earlier this week I received a letter in the mail from the U.S Census Bureau. After seeing their most recent commercials that premiered and have been running since the Superbowl, I am well aware that it’s time to do my part as a citizen and fill out the survey.

Yet, this letter was not actually the census itself, but merely a reminder. To say the least, I was immediately upset at the apparent wasteful spending that this letter represented. Apparently, I’m not the only one either.

While, this conversation grows online, the Census has taken the opportunity to defend themselves.

“The U.S. Census Bureau sent that letter to about 120 million households this week at a cost of $85 million but expects to reap $500 million in savings from it, according to Briana Kaya, spokeswoman for the Census Bureau. “Forty-five percent of Americans don’t know the census is taking place,” she says.

When people don’t send in their form, a census worker has to come by their home. Based on “extensive research,” the Census Bureau estimates it can increase the response rate by 6 to 12 percent by sending out an advance notice. Each percentage point saves about $85 million in door-to-door follow-up visits, she adds.” Read more…

While their logic may be true, that doesn’t address the fact that simple, cost-saving and eco-friendly digital options still exist to tell people about the Census. For the majority of citizens in this country, they are connected by multiple types of media all day long. A commercial is a good start and while it’s total cost may seem shocking to some, considering it’s reach, is relatively inexpensive.

A fairly simple solution in my mind that could stand as a reminder to millions of Americans would be to direct people to a Census run website where the Census could live digitally. The mailing for this Census reminder totals over $85 million dollars. Imagine the cost savings of offering a digital and paperless solution to millions of Americans. No carbon emissions from the USPS to ship the letters to 120 million households!

It is obvious that not everyone has access to a digital option, therefore, it seems to reason that the Census could offer a website that allows for people to select a paper-free option and registration online. By allowing people to register their address as paperless, the government can remove that household from the list and avoid having to send a reminder in the mail.

I don’t have all the answers, but it seems to reason that there are better ways to do this. We live in an incredibly adept and growing technological world and to acknowledge that the Census hasn’t figured out how to utilize current tech standards is ridiculous.

Here is hoping that lessons are learned from the implementation of this Census and mistakes are not repeated in the near future.

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