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U.S. Census 2020: Preparation Activities and the Role of Census Data in the Dissemination of Funds

September 21, 2017
Georgia’s cities are gearing up to participate in the 2020 Census Local Update of Census Addresses Operation (LUCA). The LUCA is the only opportunity offered to tribal, state, and local governments to review and comment on the U.S. Census Bureau's residential address list for their jurisdiction prior to the 2020 Census. Local governments that participate in the LUCA operation help ensure an accurate decennial census count for their communities and help local government and business leaders plan for future needs. Every person undercounted equates to lost revenues for Georgia’s communities. Once the Census count is in place, it is the template for the distribution of funds for the next 10 years.

Formulas for the distribution of federal funds for programs that help cover the costs of road construction, low income housing, disaster relief and emergency preparedness, are all based on Census data. Many state-administered grant and loan programs also use Census-derived statistics to determine allocation levels. “Counting for Dollars 2020”, a recent report by George Washington University, provides more insight into how census data is used to determine the allocation of federal funds in states and local governments. The report examines the amounts obligated for 16 of the largest federal programs that distribute funds based on decennial census statistics, and indicates that in FY15, over $13.6 billion in federal funds for these programs was distributed in the State of Georgia. According to the report, an undercount can lead to less funding for programs that benefit low-income residents, such as the national school lunch program, Section 8 housing vouchers, Medicaid, Medicare, and SNAP.

In addition to funding implications for state and local governments, decennial Census data is also used to reapportion Congressional districts, as well as drawing congressional and state legislative districts, school districts, and voting precincts.

In July 2017, LUCA invitations and registration forms were mailed to the highest elected official for each city. To see which governments have registered for LUCA, city officials can view the Registered LUCA Participants map. The deadline to submit registration forms to the Census is December 15, 2017.

When completing your registration forms, the Census requires local governments to identify a single “LUCA liaison”. The liaison is the person who will receive and protect confidential Census data under Title 13, U.S. Code. City officials should consider appointing as liaison the person most knowledgeable about the address inventory for your government, such as a GIS manager, public works/ utility department director, a contact with the 9-1-1 office, or an employee of your planning department. You may also designate a representative of the regional commission as the liaison. While there can only be one LUCA liaison for a government, there can be many LUCA reviewers who perform the work of updating the addresses. LUCA reviewers must sign the Confidentiality Agreement form. Please note that local governments may request assistance from the Regional Commissions (RCs) to help with the LUCA. Local governments that register for technical assistance from your Regional Commission must identity the RC as a reviewer on your city’s registration form. If you have already submitted your form and did not include your Regional Commission, you may revise and resubmit forms to the Census Bureau. Please note that all local governments should contact your Regional Commission to let them know that you have completed your forms.

General information about the LUCA program may be found on the Census LUCA program page of the US Census Bureau’s website. Here you will find information about LUCA including timelines, FAQs, address list layouts, instructions for Geocoding, and other resources. A set of Frequently Asked Questions about the LUCA is available on the Census website. Additionally, the LUCA Promotional Presentation provides basic information about LUCA, the importance of participating in LUCA, and how to prepare for LUCA.

For questions about the LUCA, please contact Megan Haley, Census 2020 Program Consultant with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, at 404-679-3147.