The Role of Local Officials in the 2020 Census: “Count Everyone Once, Only Once and in the Right Place”

November 13, 2019

Conducted since 1790, the decennial census is the largest peacetime mobilization in the country and far more than an “actual enumeration” as outlined in the Constitution. Census data determines political representation at every level of government, the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funding, business decisions, strategic planning and many other activities across the public and private sectors.

Census form on flag

The 2020 Census is important for Georgia’s cities, and local officials play a vital role in ensuring a complete and accurate count in their communities. 

What happens if I don’t promote the Census in my community?

According to George Washington University, Georgia received about $23.8 billion in FY2016 through 55 federal spending programs guided by 2010 Census data. These numbers imply that a community receives more than $2,300 per person annually – but only if that person is included in the census count.

What are Complete Count Committees?

The key to creating local awareness for the 2020 Census are Complete Count Committees (CCCs). Think of them as grassroots action plans whose effectiveness rests on local officials’ ability to act as trusted voices in the community as they educate residents and promote the census through targeted outreach efforts.

CCCs are usually formed by the highest elected official in a jurisdiction (such as a mayor or commissioner) and should represent a cross-section of the community. A city can either create its own organization or form a joint city/county committee – there is no wrong approach except inaction. (See below for ideas on how to form effective complete committees.)

When should I start promoting the Census?

Although Census Day is April 1, 2020, your leadership matters now. The more informed your residents are about the 2020 Census, the better their understanding of the process. Understanding builds trust and increases everyone’s willingness to be part of a successful count.

What can I do as part of a Complete Count Committee?

Besides securing funding and staff, a CCC needs to establish clear, achievable goals as it creates customized promotional materials for the census and its benefits. Working with community-based organizations that have direct contact with hard-to-count households helps identify areas that may require extra efforts.

Who can help me promote the 2020 Census in my community?

GMA’s 2020 Census Toolkit features state and federal resources, census tools, materials from regional workshops and news. 

Ideas for Complete Count Committee Activities
  • Develop a list of barriers, groups or concerns that might affect the 2020 Census in your community.
  • Create ways to dispel myths and alleviate fears about the privacy and confidentiality of census data.
  • Place census messages on water bills, property tax bills, social media and other correspondence generated by your community.
  • Host a Census Workshop with others in the community.
  • Develop and implement activities to involve local government employees in a 2020 Census Awareness Campaign.
  • Encourage corporations and other organizations to become official sponsors of your census activities.
  • Have census posters, banners and other signage placed in highly visible public locations.
  • Include the 2020 Census logo and messages on brochures, newsletters, social media sites and your city’s website.
  • Sponsor a census booth at county fairs, carnivals and festivals (especially cultural or ethnic celebrations).
  • Sponsor a contest to design a sticker or poster promoting the 2020 Census.
  • Have census information available in all municipal buildings. 
U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialists can be reached via email at or by phone at (404) 730-3832 or 1-800-424-6974.

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