BATH TOWNSHIP — The US Census Bureau is enlisting Bath Township and other municipalities in Greene County to help the federal agency prepare for the 2020 nationwide census.
During the Dec. 20 Bath Township meeting, Township Trustee John Martin reported that he had attended a meeting about the Local Update of Census Addresses Operation, known as LUCA, at the Greene County Media Room in Xenia on Dec. 13. The decennial census geographic partnership program will allow the U.S. Census Bureau to benefit from the knowledge of local governments in developing its master address file for the 2020 census.
According to Martin, a representative of the federal agency presented a PowerPoint presentation about the program and claimed that the Census Bureau is half the size it was when it conducted the 2010 census. The agency’s Midwest Region is also covering twice as many states in 2020 than it did in 2010.
“They have half the staff performing twice the work. Therefore, they are asking each political subdivision in each community to do the best job possible of counting its residents, and that goes back to street addresses, GPS coordinates, and Google Earth,” Martin said. “The Regional Planning and Coordinating Commission of Greene County will be the central contact point for all the incoming information.”
Martin pointed out that local governments generally have a better understanding of what has occurred in their communities. Therefore, they will have an opportunity to review and comment on the Census Bureau’s master residential address list for their jurisdictions, which will help insure an accurate decennial census count in the township.
The 2020 census will also be the most technologically advanced and automated census ever, according to the agency’s released operational plan. The bureau plans to incorporate technology from start to finish of the 2020 census, and its goal is to have more than 50 percent of the U.S. population respond online, using computers, mobile phones, or other technical devices.
“The aim of this census is to do as much as possible digitally and have people respond with their computers and to keep the necessity of knocking on doors to a minimum,” said Martin.
The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the United States Code, which provides strong protection of the information the agency collects from individuals and businesses. The Census Bureau will work with local governments in ways that are completely consistent with current Title 13 confidentiality guarantees.
“The most important thing I picked up from the meeting was that all information given to the U.S. Census Bureau cannot be share with any other agency. The information is supposed to be absolutely confidential to the Census Bureau;” Martin said.
He also pointed out that the census data is used by government entities to determine the distribution of millions of federal and state dollars for roads, schools, fire and EMS departments, and other infrastructures. The data is also used for drawing congressional and state legislative districts, as well as school districts, and voting precincts.
“The distribution of federal funds are usually done by head counts, and the community’s economy is determined by the reports of the U.S. Census Bureau,” Martin noted. “So, local governments have a vested interest in participating in this program.”
The federal agency will provide the township and other municipalities with the necessary tools to participate in the LUCA program, including Geographic Update Partnership Software, local GIS, census forms, and paper maps.
“Regional planning will help a lot with this and will do most of the work,” Martin said. “We are prepared to do the best job we can with contacting our citizens and asking them to respond. The more accurate the address data is, the more accurate the 2020 census will be.”
Although the April 1 Census Day is more than two years away, the LUCA program will be in full swing in 2018 as the U.S. Census Bureau and local governments work together to achieve an up-to-date and accurate census master address list.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.