THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON COMMEMORATES CENSUS DAY, URGES ALL AMERICANS TO COMPLETE THEIR CENSUS 2000 FORMS
Today, in his weekly radio address, President Clinton will issue a proclamation commemorating April 1, 2000 as "Census Day" and will urge all Americans to complete and mail in their census forms. The Census is a vital statistical snapshot used to ensure fair representation in the Congress, to distribute billions in government funding, and to guide other important decisions that affect our everyday lives. The President today will release a new report from his Council of Economic Advisers that demonstrates the many vital uses of census data by businesses, community groups and others. He will also emphasize that completing the census form takes only a brief amount of time, and that every question in both the long form and the short form has been reviewed and approved by Congress. Finally, he will reassure Americans concerned about their privacy that all individual information is absolutely confidential and cannot be used by anyone outside the Census Bureau for any reason.
MOBILIZING AMERICANS TO RESPOND TO THE CENSUS. As he issues a proclamation to commemorate April 1, 2000 as "Census Day," President Clinton today will call on all Americans to respond to the census. The U.S. Constitution requires the federal government to conduct a census every 10 years, and information from the census is vital to ensure fair representation in the Congress, to distribute billions in government funding, and to make other important decisions. Because the 1990 census missed 8.4 million people -- including many children, minorities, and low-income Americans -- the Census Bureau is engaged in a massive mobilization effort to count all Americans. Only about half of Americans have mailed in their census forms. Noting this, the President today will urge all Americans to complete and mail in their forms or respond to the census online (as Vice President Gore has done) by going to the Census web page, www.2000.census.gov. He will also call on federal employees and his Cabinet to lead this effort by their own example.
CENSUS INFORMATION AFFECTS VITAL DECISIONS ABOUT OUR EVERYDAY LIVES. Every question on the census form is approved by Congress and required by law. These questions help the government and communities determine where to build schools, child care facilities, Head Start centers, homes, hospitals, senior centers, job training programs, roads, and supermarkets. For instance, a question on the long form about commuting time will help transportation planners design new roads and mass transit systems. Today the President will release a report from his Council of Economic Advisers that demonstrates how businesses, community organizations and academics use census data to make research, planning, hiring and other critical decisions. A low response rate would provide inaccurate information for these important decisions that impact our everyday lives.
REASSURING AMERICANS ABOUT THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF ALL CENSUS INFORMATION. The President will reassure the public today that all census information is absolutely confidential and, by law, cannot be shared with anyone outside the Census Bureau for any reason. He will add that Census Bureau employees are subject to stiff penalties if they violate that trust. The President today will also point out that completing the Census 2000 forms is not burdensome: the short form, which the vast majority of Americans receive, is the shortest it's been since 1820; the long form, which goes to only one in every six households, is the shortest in its history. Every question on both forms, the President will note, has been reviewed by Congress. But more important, information from the long form is critical for important public policy decisions, from helping communities design mass transit systems to providing 911 emergency services. The information also helps the government calculate cost-of-living increases for Social Security.