THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Norfolk, Virginia)
April 1, 1999
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Encouraging Participation in Census 2000
Next year, the Bureau of the Census will conduct Census 2000, the 22nd decennial census of the United States. This monumental task will be the largest peacetime mobilization in our Nation's history. I am committed to ensuring that Census 2000 is the most fair, accurate, and complete census possible -- one that truly reflects who we are as a people.
The census is rooted in our history, and it is mandated by the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson conducted the Nation's first decennial census in 1790. He was also the first to report an undercount. We know that previous censuses overlooked millions of Americans, especially children, low-income individuals, and minorities. In fact, the 1990 census was the first census in history to be less accurate than the one that preceded it. According to the Bureau of the Census, the 1990 census missed 8.4 million people and 4.4 million others were counted incorrectly. The Census Bureau has studied and learned from the past and is determined to do better. It will make every effort to contact and count each individual. In addition, it will complete the census using proven, modern scientific methods to ensure that the Nation has the most accurate information possible.
Information from the census affects Americans everyday. States and local governments use it to plan schools and highways. The Federal Government uses it to distribute funds for health care and other programs, and businesses rely on it in making their economic plans. Census data are also used to reapportion congressional seats and draw legislative districts. Because the census is so important, we must do everything we can to ensure that everyone is counted. And there is no time to waste. Exactly 1 year from today, America will commence the first census of the 21st Century.
Participation in the decennial census is one of the Nation's most vital civic responsibilities. This essential national effort will provide the information necessary to guide this country into the next century. Because of Census 2000's great importance, I am today directing the heads of all executive departments and agencies to develop and implement a plan of action that supports the Census Bureau's mission of conducting a fair, accurate, and complete Census 2000.
All executive departments' and agencies' plans of action should include (but not be limited to) efforts that will:
(a) expand public education and promote the importance of Census
2000. You should include information regarding the need for full participation in Census 2000 in your overall communications strategy, where appropriate. Such actions could include: placing informational materials in public waiting areas, including census messages in your advertising, adding census messages to external publications, newsletters, and other internal communications, and promoting census participation in speeches and at public events or conferences;
(b) refrain from initiating household surveys -- other than the
census -- between March 1, 2000, and June 30, 2000, to minimize confusion for respondents and enhance their willingness to participate in Census 2000;
(c) help recruit census workers, by encouraging agency employees to
work on the decennial census as a second job; and
(d) transfer excess furnishings and provide space and equipment to
local census offices, to the extent permitted by law and where appropriate.
With your efforts, we can all move forward together towards the successful completion of a fair and accurate Census 2000.
This memorandum does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural enforceable at law by a party against the United States, its officers, or any other person.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
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