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This knock is no joke. Accurate census key to funding
Count conducted every 10 years determines congressional seats
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Opening the door when a U.S. Census field representative knocks may be more important than you think.

It could make the difference between your community getting some extra federal funds, or not.

"Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding is based on population counts," said Marvin Dudek, assistant director for the Atlanta regional office of the U.S. Census Bureau.

"If an area is undercounted, then they may not get as much money as they would have if things were properly reported."

As required by the U.S. Constitution, the Census Bureau conducts a major nationwide survey every 10 years. The information from that survey is used to determine the number of congressional seats each state receives and is also used to determine what federal services should be provided in individual communities.

"The Southeast region has shown a lot of growth in the past few censuses," Dudek said. "It's quite possible that Georgia and Florida will gain more seats in the House of Representatives after the 2010 Census."

While the regional offices are currently doing the groundwork to prepare for the 2010 national census, each office is also responsible for conducting regional surveys every month of every year.

These monthly regional reports gather information concerning unemployment rates, household buying trends and other economic indicators.

"The way things have changed since September, it's almost like we've had several years worth of change compressed into just a few months," Dudek said.

"In that type of environment, now more than ever it's important for us to be able to provide accurate statistics to help politicians make informed decisions."

The Atlanta regional office, which includes Hall County, will begin it's next survey on March 16, wrap it up on March 24 and release the results on April 13.

"We survey about 60,000 addresses each month," Dudek said. "Our field representatives contact the homeowners and ask them a series of questions. Our representatives take an oath of confidentiality and ask a set of detailed questions so that we can paint an accurate picture with our surveys."

Due to a source's error, an earlier version of this story gave incorrect information about the opening of the Census Bureau's regional office in Gainesville. The event is invitation only.

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