MY VIEW/William W. Hatcher – Paving the road to the 2010 Census


A road-paving project makes me see red. 

Sure, I want new highways without potholes, but the heavy-equipment process of striping vegetation, laying gravel and spreading asphalt seems a steep price. Still, its necessary to get what we need.

So it is with the census. 

Its about two years until 2010 Census questionnaires will be delivered. But now is the time for Virginias cities, towns and communities to pave the way for the decennial census, as required by our Constitution. We must prepare to ensure that everyone is counted so that everyone counts when it comes to the fair distribution of power and money.

Census numbers are used to reapportion the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. States use population counts to redraw boundaries for legislative and federal congressional districts. To fairly distribute about $300 billion in federal funds each year, various agencies use census numbers to fund programs for school lunches, job training and housing.

Business leaders use census information to analyze trends, decide facility locations and determine where to deliver goods and services. Decision-makers draw on census counts to decide where to build fire stations, libraries and infrastructure projects.  Census data can literally translate into paved roads.

To get a complete count, we at the Regional Census Center which supports census operations in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee hope to forge partnerships with state, local and tribal governments.

We invite community and faith-based entities, schools, businesses and grassroots organizations to partner with us.  These partnerships will publicize jobs and help create a responsive environment for the census, despite distrust, apathy, linguistic isolation, and geography. 

So much depends on a good census; we have many opportunities to achieve it: 

  • The highest elected official at all levels of government can establish a
    Complete Count Committee to promote the census. Now is the time to form these committees and budget money to carry out their important roles.
  • The Census Bureau now seeks thousands of applicants to fill management and field jobs at Local Census Offices in Alexandria, Richmond and Roanoke. For information go to or call 1-888-222-4936.
  • To start conversations about the census, we have an impressive group of specialists to develop partnerships with local, state and tribal governments, faith-based entities, schools, businesses, as well as grassroots and community organizations. I hope your communities will welcome our partnership specialists. Our mutual goal is to let everyone know the magnitude of the census.  
    Its two years until peak operations for the worlds largest peacetime operation,

but now is the time to prepare.

Hatcher is the regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau.