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2010 Census was $1.6 billion under budget

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Updated 12:37 p.m. ET
The U.S. Census Bureau plans to give at least $1.6 billion back to the government later this year because the 2010 Census came in under budget, officials said Tuesday.

Congress appropriated $14.7 billion over 12 years for this year’s headcount. Preparations for the 2010 count began in 1999 with early planning meetings, but more than half of the money was spent this year.

The 2010 Census was still the most expensive in American history, but census budgets have climbed every decade since 1950 as the American population and number of households increases. The Census Bureau managed to return $305 million from a $7 billion total budget in 2000.

The American public earned much of the credit from Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Census Director Robert Groves formally announce the total savings. They noted that this year's 72 percent response rate matched the 2000 Census and helped control costs on the labor-intensive follow up process.

"This did not happen by chance," Locke told reporters, adding that "We demanded accountability and stretched every dollar as far as it could go."

The 565,000 temporary workers hired to conduct follow up interviews at the 47 million households that didn't return census forms were more educated and experienced than previous years, Locke said. That's due mostly to a higher number of unemployed overqualified applicants seeking jobs amid the economic slump. The added work experience meant workers spent less money and time on travel and completed their work more quickly.

"That highly skilled workforce came up with efficiencies on their own and ideas that were then incorporated community-wide and then system-wide," Locke said, noting that many workers had worked on mobilization and street organizing efforts with Democratic and Republican political campaigns.

A lack of major natural disasters, few technical glitches and an unprecedented multilingual advertising campaign also helped keep the costs down, officials said.

It's still unknown exactly how much will go back to the government because census operations are scheduled to continue through the end of September, but officials said it will be no less than $1.6 billion. Congress will have the final say on where the money goes.

Also no word on how much the 2020 Census might cost, but Groves has said it will include an online component that should help control costs.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama's motorcade involved in an accident. Former vice president Dick Cheney is out of the hospital. Letitia Long becomes the first woman to lead an intelligence agency.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Gates: Pentagon to cut thousands of jobs: The cuts include eliminating at least 50 jobs reserved for generals and admirals.

Odierno yet again asked to eliminate his job: His new job as head of Joint Forces Command will require him to shut the place down.

U.S. engineer convicted of selling secrets to China: A federal jury in Hawaii on Monday convicted the former B-2 stealth bomber engineer of selling military secrets to China.

FBI:
FBI will conduct autopsies on 6 American aid workers slain in Afghanistan: The autopsies will be conducted as part of the investigation into the killings.

FBI has more than 3,200 DNA cases backlogged: Cases involving the analysis of bodily fluids have climbed almost 40 percent, or 757 total cases in the last year.

GOVERNMENT WORK/LIFE/OPERATIONS:
Lawmaker seeks cap on federal workforce growth: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wants to cap the number of civilian employees in most federal agencies to cut government spending.

GAO explains why your building might not be safe: It's got a new report out on federal building safety committees.

OMB to post contractor information: It's called a "bad apple" database because of what it contains.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT:
Shutting down Lady Liberty, again: Her crown reopened last Summer, but she has to close entirely next year for security upgrades.

NASA:
NASA revising second station repair Space Station: It's revising plans for a second spacewalk Wednesday, adding work to isolate an ammonia leak that should clear the way for installation of a new pump during a third spacewalk Sunday.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES:
Guardians of the nation's attic: The Archives' treasure hunting team keeps watch over collector shows and EBay for the stolen scraps of valuable history.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | August 10, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Census, Eye Opener  
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Comments

Well good, $1.6B might not be a whole lot these days, but nice to know everyone did their job and the effort came under budget for once. (census takers and citizens, give yourself a round of applause)

Posted by: jhtlag1 | August 10, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Just out of curiosity, is there not a stipulation that all unused appropriations be returned to the treasury (or used to pay off the debt)? Every time money is appropriated for a bill or program (Census,TARP, etc...) and it comes in under budget, people are always talking about what to do with the left over money. If I saved money on a deal it would go back into my larger bank account (or pay off my debts). I wouldn't have to spend it right away. What am I missing?

Posted by: panargus | August 10, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

panargus wrote:

If I saved money on a deal it would go back into my larger bank account (or pay off my debts). I wouldn't have to spend it right away. What am I missing?
-------------------------------------------

You're missing the fact that when you save money on a deal, you save it because it's your own money. When the government saves money, it spends it immediately because it's not 'their' money (i.e. it's the taxpayer's money). It's always easier to blow someone else's money...

Posted by: dfl1 | August 10, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I returned my census forms, both of them, but still got four different people visiting me to obtain more information than the number of people who live here. Also got a couple of letters and a post card.
They may be under budget, but they spent a lot more money than they should have.

Posted by: LarryG62 | August 10, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

So instead of costing slightly more than twice as much as the last census, it cost slightly less than twice as much. Only in Washington is an 87% increase a $1.6B savings.

Posted by: hicsuget | August 10, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Please, the government only spends money. That's like a jeweler advertising 50% off
diamonds. The price is the price.

Give us a break.

It will no doubt be used to pay more to Federal employees because they are sooooo
efficient.

Posted by: wesatch | August 10, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

They DOUBLED the budget and then returned 10%? Only in DC.

Posted by: jiji1 | August 10, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Ed - you say that "Letitia Long becomes the first woman to lead an intelligence agency." That's not true.

Janice Gardner was the first Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Intelligence and Analysis back in 2005. Treasury's Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one of the 17 agencies in the Intelligence Community. Thus, its chief (Assistant Secretary Janice Gardner and now Leslie Ireland) heads an intelligence agency.

Posted by: slack-jawed_yokel | August 10, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

So instead of costing slightly more than twice as much as the last census, it cost slightly less than twice as much. Only in Washington is an 87% increase a $1.6B savings.

Posted by: hicsuget
____________________
it was ten years ago, so you have to adjust for inflation. then you have to allow for the fact that there are more people. allowing for the same voluntary return percentage, that means the same percentage of a much larger population had to be personally visited.

Posted by: JoeT1 | August 10, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

When the 2010 census first came out, their was the media backlash from the conservative right telling its members NOT to fill in census forms...

Remember all the news coverage on the issue...

Yet, this years response rate matched 2000 rate - what does that tell you?

THE TEA PARTIES, THE CONSERVATIVE RIGHT MOVEMENT IS REALLY A MEDIA EVENT, RUN BY FOX NOISE, TO CREATE ISSUES TO FILL 24/7 NEWS COVERAGE....

Sure, the tea parties are real and when voter turnout is low, they may turn an election... BUT, NOT A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION....

Actually, Palin and the tea parties are the best things the Dem's have going for them!!!!

Posted by: WVUWEIRTON | August 10, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: WVUWEIRTON
When the 2010 census first came out, their was the media backlash from the conservative right telling its members NOT to fill in census forms...
Remember all the news coverage on the issue...
-----------------
No, I don't. Because I never heard of any leader on the right asking for people NOT to fill in a census form. People were saying only respond to the questions appropriate - ie, how many people live in your house, and not any other items, but no one was saying not to fill out the forms.

It's no wonder you're clue less about the Tea Party and conservatives. You just make things up to fit your mindless template.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | August 10, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

You're not telling the whole story, Ed. The original budget for the 2010 decennial census was 11 billion, back in 2006. That means they're actually 3 billion OVER budget.

Posted by: tttggg | August 10, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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