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Eye Opener: Fortune cookies promoting the Census

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Friday! Some Chinese food lovers in the Pacific Northwest enjoying a fortune cookie may soon get a fortune message that says, "You are an incredibly smart, beautiful person who will enjoy great success," on one side and "Put down your chopsticks and get involved in Census 2010" on the other.

The U.S. Census Bureau has paid $3,000 to a Seattle-based fortune cookie maker to add promotional messages about the national headcount on the back of the cookie's one-line messages of encouragement. The deal is part of the agency's multimillion dollar outreach campaign that stretches across television, radio, newspapers and the Internet in more than 20 languages.

"Somebody from my the regional office with the U.S. Census said, 'Hey can you print a census message on the back,' and I did," said Timothy Louie, owner of the Tsue Chong Company. His team produces 80,000 fortune cookies a day, roughly 400,000 a week or about 20.8 million a year and sells them to restaurants in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington State. Louie's shop will produce roughly 2 million cookies with the Census messages between now and early April when census forms are due.

“This is very unique, where we can partner up with the U.S. government and it’s a significant thing in history where the government is trying to get information about the population," Louie said.

Census officials in Washington said a local group helping to promote the census suggested the fortune cookie message and the regional office ponied up the funds. The $3,000 pays for printing the message and Louie takes care of distribution by sending the cookies to his customers.

The agency and its partners have tried several mainstream and unorthodox ways to increase census participation. A widely panned $2.5 million Super Bowl commercial used Hollywood actors to deliver a census message. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will serve as grand marshal of San Francisco's Chinese New Year Parade this weekend get out the word. And a coalition of minority groups distributed fliers last year reminding churchgoers that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary had gone there to participate in the census.

And lest you need proof that the fortune cookie campaign is working, Louie said he can't recall filling out his Census forms in 2000, but definitely plans to this year. So it seems the agency's outreach efforts are working, one American at a time.

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New Federal Employee Survey: The Office of Personnel Management has started distributing the 2010 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to more than a half million federal workers. The "new and improved" survey used to be known as the Federal Human Capital Survey and will be distributed through mid-March. OPM assures responses will remain confidential.

"In these times of unprecedented change, it is more important than ever to maintain a focus on the federal government's most valuable asset -- its employees," OPM Director John Berry said in a statement. "Every federal employee plays a role in fulfilling the mission of each Federal agency or department. More than ever, their work is critical to the well-being and security of our nation."

The survey will help federal human resources managers get a better sense of how they're doing their jobs and address employee engagement and work/life issues.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 26, 2010; 5:59 AM ET
Categories:  Census, Eye Opener  
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Next: Hundreds of stimulus recipients haven't reported on money's whereabouts


The Census Bureau message in a Chinese fortune cookie is a really clever idea, if for no other reason than it's not the sort of notion one e--xpects frokm bureau whose job is boring to a great many people -- many of whom don't have any idea how crucial the information the folks at the CB gather is for stuff such as drawing congressional district lines, allocation of federal money and other resources, etc.

Then there are the wingnuts who see it as commie of fascist, take your pick

Posted by: MekhongKurt1 | February 26, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

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