Public Service Announcement: Census workers in your area

From John Barr, Program Manager, Census Division, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth:

Hi All,

We just wanted to make sure you are aware of the current program being conducted by the Census Bureau.  The Census Bureau is currently conducting Address Canvassing, the first major field operation of the 2020 Census, and will continue to run through mid-October. Census Bureau address canvassers ensure an accurate and complete count by verifying addresses, which involves noting where houses, apartments, shelters, and other residences are located. Prior to the 2010 Census, address canvassing was done for 100% of the addresses.  For the 2020 Census, only about 30% of the addresses will be visited by address canvassers and only in areas where there has been significant changes over the past 10 years. The address canvassers will knock on the door of an address they are trying to verify to confirm the address and inquire if there are any other separate living quarters in the house.  These activities will take place during daylight hours. If no one answers the door, the address canvasser will look for visual identifiers to confirm the address, such as an address on a mail box, and if nothing can be found, the address will be flagged for further follow-up.


We have reached out to the Census Bureau requesting advance notice of the locations and dates of any Census address canvassers who will be working in Massachusetts, so that we can distribute this information to you to disseminate publicly to avoid further inquiries. However, it seems unlikely we will get this information.  The Census Bureau has stated that they are proactively working with local law enforcement.  Their Office of Security sent a memo and a poster about Address Canvassing to each and every law enforcement agency in the country. The poster contains sample pictures of the official government badge with photo ID and the bag and laptop with the 2020 Census logo that address canvassers will have with them. In addition, via a partnership with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, every police station in the country will show the Address Canvassing video this week at the start of police shifts, known as roll call, so that police officers know the operation is occurring and how to identify a census worker. We’ve asked the Census Bureau to provide us with additional information, including handouts and posters, that you can use to display in your city and town halls regarding the program. As we explained to the Bureau, it is likely that you will receive inquiries as residents may be confused with the local street listing process.


Here is a link to the information already publicly distributed by the Census Bureau regarding the program.  At this link, there is a short video that you can put on your municipal website that helps explain the program and how to identify address canvassers.


“Verify Census Workers in Your Area”  


If you are visited by someone from the Census Bureau, and want to verify their identity and occupation, here are some tips to assure the validity of the field representative:


We hope this is helpful and will pass along additional information as it becomes available.


John Barr

Program Manager, Census Division

Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth


Published: August 14th, 2019

Author: Alan Thibeault