Invest Now in a Cost-Effective and Modern 2020 Census

If the Census Bureau is adequately funded, it will carry out a modern 2020 Census that is different than any other Census our nation’s history. Innovative approaches using new technology and streamlined operations may save $2 billion on what the full cost of the decennial Census would otherwise be.

However, the Census Bureau will not be able to implement these approaches unless it has the necessary resources to timely complete preparatory tasks in Fiscal Year 2019.

The proposed difference between decennial censuses include:


Information gathered on paper forms, and through phone and face-to-face contact.

Census staff walked every Census geographic block to update addresses for the master list used for mailings and by canvassers.

Census sta called households that did not return paper forms, and may have visited them multiple times.

Field operations consisted of 12 regional offices, 494 area offices, and more than 515,000 Census takers.

Respondents were asked about race and Hispanic origin in separate questions; Census Bureau research indicates that this format results in lower response rates to the questions, and incomplete data.


Information gathered primarily through self-response on the Internet. A phone option will be available.

Census staff will use tools including imagery review and new mapping programs to improve the master address list; only a small number of addresses will be visited and confirmed in-person.

Smaller temporary workforce and fewer offices needed because canvassing and non-response follow-up will be replaced by more centralized computerized procedures.

Census Bureau envisioned a combined Hispanic origin and race question to obtain better quality data; Office of Management and Budget has prevented Bureau from doing so. Bureau will retain separate question format and need to expend greater resources in follow up to obtain complete information.