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Posted on Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 3:07 p.m.

Census Director Robert Groves presents status of 2010 Census to Michigan students, peers

By Brian Vernellis

In the months since being appointed the U.S. Census Director, Robert Groves has done everything he possibly can to make sure the 2010 Census is a successful one.

To begin the official enumeration, he traveled by dogsled to the Inuit community of Noorvik, Alaska, to help census takers. The bureau sponsored NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing team for three races. He’s partnered with Sesame Street character The Count to help kids learn about the census. And he’s even appeared on The Daily Show to explain the process and its importance to viewers.


Census Director Robert M. Groves

Photo credit: U.S. Census Bureau

Groves, who earned his master’s degrees in statistics and sociology and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Michigan, returned to campus today to report on the 2010 Census to the public, students and peers.

Groves was a professor at U-M and director of its Survey Research Center before President Barack Obama nominated him for the bureau’s director position in 2009.

His briefing confirmed the 2010 Census is on schedule and under budget as it moves into its quality assurance stage.

“The complexity of (the census) is something that goes beyond most operations that go on in the U.S.,” Groves said. “There is nothing like a census in terms of mobilization and human resources. 

“It’s an awesome responsibility. Doing it perfectly, although that is our aspiration, is very difficult to do. Doing it fairly, carefully and thoroughly is what we aim at.”

Two quality assurance operations begin within the coming weeks.

The bureau has about 200,000 workers checking 8-9 million households to confirm housing units classified as vacant or nonexistent were in fact unoccupied on April 1. That operation will be followed by field verification as census workers verify whether an address exists and confirm its geographical location.

“One of the toughest things to communicate to the public is why we go back and double check,” Groves said. “It seems like we’re harassing people, but that double checking is key to making sure we got it right.

“The second thing on our plate is evaluating how well the country did with this census. Is this a good census? That’s our total focus in the fall. We’ll know more and more each day.”

The 2010 Census findings will be presented to the president and the nation Dec. 31.

Brian Vernellis is a reporter for He can be reached at 734-623-4617 or