Census…Clear as 20/20

The Census Bureau's mission is "to serve as the nation's leading provider of quality data about its people and economy." 2020 is a decennial census year where the government is required by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution to collect data on the population of the country. This data is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and inform the distribution of billions in federal funds to local communities. The 2020 questionnaires will begin arriving to homes mid-March. All households receiving a questionnaire are required to fill it out and return it. Those that have not responded will be visited by census takers beginning in May.

The first census took place in 1790, one year after George Washington took office. For this initial census, marshals visited every house and collected data. The process took months and the end results were questioned for accuracy and completeness. Since then, the process by which census data is collected continues to evolve.

In 1890, a punch card system was used for the census. This automation was developed specifically to meet the growing amount of data that needed to be processed. The company that developed this technology went on to become IBM. Moving ahead 130 years, this year's census marks the first time people will be able to submit their responses online.

The value of the census reaches beyond its role of ensuring fair representation in our democracy. The population data collected every 10 years, along with the data captured by the bureau between decennial surveys, feeds the need for data-driven decision making. Census data is a huge piece of the open-government movement that encourages data sharing across agencies to better inform all levels of decision-making.

After you've filled out your census, you may want to take a look at these data-related events to get a better understanding of how the government can better use all of that information.

  • Data in Action Summit (April 2, 2020; Washington, DC) - Leaders and decision-makers from the public sector IT community will discuss the importance of enterprise data management, the explosion of the chief data officer role in government agencies, how organizations can comply with new requirements for their data set forth in the Open Government Data Act of 2019 and the 2020 Federal Data Strategy Action Plan, and the role data plays in the technology of tomorrow.
  • FEDspace (May 19, 2020; Washington, DC) - With the release of the Federal Data Strategy Plan, 2020 ushers in a new decade for federal data governance. This event dives into the action plan and discusses what it means for government agencies. Learn from agency leaders during speaking sessions and panels, hear how agencies tackled real issues during live case studies, and engage with peers during an interactive work session.
  • Digital Transformation Workshop (June 9, 2020; Washington, DC) - As a holistic approach to IT, digital transformation requires a fundamental rethinking of how organizations operate, the disruption of silos and greater collaboration throughout an organization. This workshop will explore the outcomes of digital transformation, including retooled business processes, automation and workflow, and user experience.
  • Federal Data Strategy Conference (June 10, 2020; Washington, DC) - This event will highlight the policy, activities (pilot projects underway), and benefits of the Federal Data Strategy. Subject matter experts from government, industry, and academia will share successes to date and expected benefits moving forward.

Share where you will be learning about data collection, storage, and analysis over the next year in the comments. Find more government events worldwide on GovEvents.

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