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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Norfolk, Virginia)
For Immediate Release                                      April 1, 1999


Exactly one year from today, America will commence the first census of the 21st Century. The responsibility to conduct the census is nearly as old as our nation. Beginning in 1790, and every ten years since, America has counted its people, charted its growth, and, by doing so, prepared for its future.

The Census is a vital, statistical snapshot that tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation. And though it is taken only once a decade, it is important to our everyday lives. The census helps communities determine where to build everything from schools to supermarkets, and from homes to hospitals. It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities. It is used to draw the lines of legislative districts and reapportion the seats each state holds in Congress.

The Census Bureau estimates it will count about 275 million people next year across our nation. But America must be accurate -- and more so than we have been in the past. The previous census, in 1990, missed 8.4 million people and counted more than 4 million twice. Children, minorities, and low-income Americans have been often overlooked. We must do better. Every person in America counts -- so every American must be counted.

I am committed to ensuring that Census 2000 is as accurate, complete, and fair as possible. That will be an enormous undertaking -- demanding the largest peacetime mobilization in our nation's history, involving hundreds of thousands of local census takers and community volunteers. I have therefore asked every executive department and agency of the federal government to develop an action plan that helps recruit census workers and promotes full participation in Census 2000. The Census Bureau has put forth a comprehensive and complete plan that includes a full enumeration and modern scientific methods. The Bureau will also build unprecedented partnerships with business, community groups, schools, and state, local and tribal governments and use, for the first time, radio, television and billboard advertisements to encourage everyone to participate in Census 2000.

Working together, we can ensure that Census 2000 truly reflects who we are as a people, and that each American can make the best of the opportunities of the 21st Century.