The U.S. Census Bureau's
American Community Survey Interrogation

"We're from the government and we're here to help... "

On this page:

Defective, dependent, or delinquent...

After being delayed several years due to budget shortfalls, one of the largest invasions of our privacy is now in full swing, compliments of the U.S. Census Bureau and a cadre of Department of Commerce corporate partners. In the past, the American people only had to put up with this unconstitutional nonsense once every ten years. A time frame frequent enough to be annoying but not frequent enough to evoke formal resistance. With the advent of the misnomered American Community Survey however, circumstance have changed dramatically. U.S. Census bureaucrats have somehow misinterpreted clear constitutional guidance regarding a simple head count once every 10 years for representation purposes as a mandate to invade America's privacy on a recurring monthly basis.

Below you will find a discussion of this unconstitutional program along with links to commentaries, news articles, corporate involvement, and government documentation that highlight this newest invasion of our homes and privacy along with general information regarding the decennial census.

250,000 homes are now being targeted every month by the Census Bureau and its corporate lackeys to comply, under threat of prosecution, with a survey demanding answers to over 70 privacy invading questions. Questions, that as Congressman Ron Paul and others have pointed out, are none of the government's business.

This new program will cost taxpayers well over $150,000,000 a year and is envisioned by Census Bureau personnel as a permanent fixture to the new American police state. It was developed and implemented by unelected career bureaucrats at the Department of Commerce in close consultation with other government interests including but not limited to the Department of Justice, Health and Human Services and Homeland Security. In addition, the Census Bureau relies heavily on strong support from corporate interests to collect, scan, archive, and conduct follow-up work related to surveys unwittingly filled out by individuals under the false pretense that their responses will be kept 'strictly confidential'.

Indeed, the Census Bureau and its contracted help will all tell you that your responses are protected by statute and any unauthorized disclosure is punishable by severe fines and prison time. What they don't tell you is that the number of 'authorized' disclosures is expansive and corporations and individuals working with the Census Bureau have unfettered access to your personal information while under contract with the Bureau. You also wont find a list of individuals or organizations that have been prosecuted or sanctioned by the federal government for disclosing your personal information. After all, when the chief executive officer of the country can thumb his nose at the Constitution and federal statutes with impunity in order to spy on American citizens, it's no great leap of logic to realize so-called census privacy protections are in reality non-existent.

Some of the commercial interests associated with this new attack on our privacy are highlighted below but the list is by no means exhaustive. A close look at several corporations such a Lockheed Martin and Evolver, Inc., shows a strong connection to other government agencies such as Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and various Intelligence agencies. Additionally, Lockheed Martin has not only been a major player in previous decennial census efforts in the United States but has also been a major contractor for National Census efforts in other countries such as Canada and England. In the case of Canada, Lockheed's participation resulted in an uproar from the public that is still being heard today.

The malfeasance isn't limited to corporate involvement however. A GAO report from 2002 verifies that the majority of questions on the survey don't even originate in the Census Bureau but rather from other special interests within the federal government:

"The questions to be asked in the 2003 ACS reflect justifications - specific statutes, regulations, and court cases - provided to the Bureau by federal agencies." - GAO Report, p2

"The 20 questions justified by mandatory programs reflect the provisions of seven statutes: One statute justifies 13 questions for providing information to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) to enforce the Federal Affirmative Action Plan. Another statute justifies 6 questions for providing information to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to enforce the Voting Rights Act. A Department of Commerce (DOC) statute justifies 1 question for providing information for legislative redistricting. The other statutes relate to programs of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), DOC, and HHS." - GAO Report, p16

What this means is that federal agencies are using the Census Bureau as their front for mandating responses to questions that individual agencies or departments aren't authorized to mandate from the general public on their own.

What's even more surprising however is a GAO finding that contrary to assurances given, the Census Bureau fully intends to provide federal agencies with DIRECT access to ACS data while working with these agencies to develop more targeted and specialized follow-up surveys based upon responses to the American Community Survey:

"In addition to providing federal agencies with DIRECT use of ACS data for program needs, the bureau has announced that it would conduct special surveys for them, based on ACS responses." - GAO Report, p16

The GAO found that the Census Bureau conveniently left these facts out of instructional materials provided to individuals contracted to conduct the survey:

"...we also did not find any mention of this notification in the information provided to the staff conducting the ACS testing." - GAO Report, p16

And if this wasn't enough, the Census Bureau has admitted to conducting experiments on the American people to test compliance and privacy attitudes with specially worded surveys to see how individuals would respond to different information demands:

"About 21,000 American households received a census form asking respondents for that all-important nine-digit number, in addition to the typical inquiries on race, gender and age. It was a little-noticed experiment conducted by the Census Bureau to see how Americans would respond to being asked for the figure..." - Sun Sentinel

"Voluntary materials and methods will be used for all phases of data collection....The overall objective of the test is to identify the effect of changing the survey from a mandatory one to a voluntary one on response rates, quality, and cost. A small control panel will receive materials by mail that retain the mandatory wording." - ACS Operations Plan, p. 51

While researching this issue, I wanted to find out exactly what authority the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau thought they had to force sovereign individuals to lay bare their private lives to any federal bureaucrat or their contracted help with a clipboard and a badge (they haven't been issued guns...yet). What I found was more disturbing in some ways than the invasive questions on the survey itself.

It turns out the federal government considers all of us to be either defective, dependent or delinquent and Congress has specifically authorized the Department of Commerce to classify us accordingly. Don't believe me? Check out 13 U.S.C. 101:

13 USC 101 - Defective, dependent, and delinquent classes; crime:
(a) The Secretary may collect decennially statistics relating

(1) to the defective, dependent, and delinquent classes; and
(2) to crime, including judicial statistics pertaining thereto.

(b) The statistics authorized by subsection (a) of this section shall include information upon the following questions, namely: age, sex, color, nativity, parentage, literacy by race, color, nativity, and parentage, and such other questions relating to such subjects as the Secretary deems proper.

(c) In addition to the decennial collections authorized by subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the Secretary may compile and publish annually statistics relating to crime and to the defective, dependent, and delinquent classes.

In other words, all those invasive questions having nothing to do with a decennial enumeration for representation purposes are authorized by federal statute in order to determine what class of individual you are - defective, dependent, or delinquent.

Not a big deal you say? The government would never abuse this database or the information it unconstitutionally collects on its citizens. You may want to ask the Arab-American community whether or not it's a big deal or the millions of Americans who had their personal information disclosed to NASA by the Census Bureau regarding a program to assign terrorist threat levels to all individuals traveling in the United States. If this isn't enough for you then perhaps the story of hundreds of thousands of American citizens rounded up during World War II and placed in concentration camps by the federal government will be more persuasive. Individuals identified in part from the 1940 Census that they willingly filled out as part of their so-called 'civic duty'.

While all this sounds pretty daunting, there's a simple solution to this particular issue. We all know from Civics 101 that the federal government only has such lawful authority as is specifically granted to it under the Constitution. A quick reference to the 4th, 9th and 10th amendments should be all that's necessary to remind you that your right to privacy is still fully intact and nosy, snooping federal bureaucrats demanding access to the intimate details of your household and life are about as un-American and un-patriotic as it gets.

As such, the American people should heed the words of Congressman Ron Paul:

"The founders never authorized the federal government to continuously survey the American people. More importantly, they never envisioned a nation where the people would roll over and submit to every government demand. The American Community Survey is patently offensive to all Americans who still embody that fundamental American virtue, namely a healthy mistrust of government. The information demanded in the new survey is none of the government's business, and the American people should insist that Congress reject it now before it becomes entrenched."

As such, when the Census Bureau field rep. comes knocking on your door in order to invade your families privacy, you may want to gently remind him of the principles associated with private property ownership and point him in the direction of the shortest path OFF your property.


"You may not have heard of the American Community Survey, but you will. The national census, which historically is taken every ten years, has expanded to quench the federal bureaucracy’s ever-growing thirst to govern every aspect of American life ..."

Ron Paul:
Texas Straight Talk

Today a lady from the Department of Commerce came here cause I would not fill out the census form except for my name.. she came with an Government ID and asked to be let in.. I told her no.. she said I had to and I refused again
"Guess what? I've been cordially ordered by the federal government to fill out the American Community Survey, a truly nosy, non-census-year census form. Obviously, we are not going to send it in, as I'm very eager to help shrink the size of our government..."
A blog entry from an individual who recently received the ACS for the first time and found the questions to be highly personal and the Census Bureau's attempt to collect the surveys highly invasive.
In other words, law breaking has begotten law breaking. It also has given federal agents an excuse to delve into the personal lives of 86-year-old women and frighten them with threats.
"The first civics lesson of the census is that privacy is of little concern to political elites; your personal business is their business. The second lesson is proclaimed loudly by the Census Bureau. The information is necessary so political elites can redistribute wealth and limit liberty according to their vision of a 'good' society"
The Cato Institute
"American history shows that when the government starts asking about your race, it's time to get concerned."
The Cato Institute
While the Patriot Act and National Security Agency wiretapping have received enormous attention and criticism from the mainstream media, another federal agency has been quietly gathering far more personal information about U.S. residents than those laws ever can. And this unreported project affects thousands more people.
Phyllis Schlafly
"Everywhere we look these days, we are either being watched, taxed or some bureaucrat is placing another bit of information in our government files. And now with the American Community Survey ..."
The Rutherford Institute
"And, considering the Census Bureau’s dark history, people have plenty of reason to fear that their answers could be used against them."
James Bovard
"Every ten years, the federal government conducts a census based upon a constitutional requirement. But the word 'census' doesn't appear in the Constitution. Instead, the Founding Fathers chose the term "enumeration," a word meaning nothing more than 'count.'"
The New American
"The census forms the most inclusive federal database of American citizens. The information it contains is protected under law from disclosure, yet with the advent of technology many of the traditional legislative protection are inadequate ..."
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
"On July 23, 2004, EPIC obtained documents revealing that the Census Bureau provided the Department of Homeland Security statistical data on people who identified themselves on the 2000 census as being of Arab ancestry."
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
"When the US Government rounded up Japanese-Americans in 1942, they used the "supposedly private" census data to tell the soldiers how many Japanese lived on each block. Perhaps they didn't hand out these families' census forms, but the data needed to put them into prison camps certainly came from the "strictly confidential" census..."
John Gilmore, Entrepreneur and Civil Libertarian
An analysis of the history of the 'race' question on the Census and now the ACS as well. Also - lots of good links related to problems with the Census
Bob Curtis
Evidence that the Census Bureau misused federal databases in violation of the Privacy Act regarding prospective employees
Politech: Politics and Technology
"The census is the largest remnant of the spoils system remaining in the federal government. All high-level census officials are chosen by the White House. Middle - and lower - level officials are chosen by Congressional offices."
An online blog where Canadians speak out against Lockheed Martin be awarded a contract in Canada to collect census data for the Canadian government
CanadianContent Community
"It turns out the most personal question the U.S. Census Bureau asked this year might not be the number of toilets in your home. It might have been your Social Security number."
Stop the “American Community Survey”

An online petition:
"A call to end the 'American Community Survey' and restrict the Census Bureau to its original purpose ..."

Another blogger writes about his experience with the ACS. Lots of interesting comments from readers...
"Next year, the Census Bureau will conduct the nation's 21st decennial census. Ironically, while the bureau collect masses of information partly to justify expanding various welfare programs, many poor people will be victimized by the answers."
James Bovard
An evolving blog commentary regarding the American Community Survey
Survival Arts
A recently started blog regarding the intrusiveness of the ACS
Radio talk show host discusses the legality of the American Community Survey near time marker 31:53 in this archived radio clip
American Radio

Despite decades of denials, government records confirm that the U.S. Census Bureau provided the U.S. Secret Service with names and addresses of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Scientific American
Concerns about the privacy of personal information plagued the 2000 U.S. Census, according to panelists, and this public distrust led to a precipitous drop in the Census response rate, which called the accuracy of government statistics into question.
Stanford Daily
The Census Bureau 'inadvertently' posted personal information from 302 households on a public Internet site multiple times over a five-month period, the bureau said Wednesday.
Yahoo News
The Census Bureau, the main collector of information about Americans, lost 672 computers. Of those, 246 contained personal data, the department said in a statement.
Census workers are gearing up to invade your families privacy by recording the latitude and longitude of every home in America for the 2010 Census.
Former Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt expresses his concerns regarding a declining response rate to Census surveys due to privacy concerns and the system that may replace it if response rates continue to plummet.
Two scholars say in a new research paper that despite earlier denials, the Census Bureau was deeply involved in the roundup and internment of Japanese Americans at the onset of U.S. entry into World War II.
Another jouranlist 'gets it' regarding the privacy invading American Community Survey
Pittsburgh Tribune
"U.S. census information provided by millions of Americans was used in a government study to profile airline passengers as terrorist risks ..."
The Washington Times
The government's use of census data to single-out and profile American citizens is not only outrageous, but possibly illegal. The dangers of the misuse of data mining census data was pointed out in a research paper almost three years ago. The author remarked that "as many as 70% of the persons {in the 1990 US census} were unique in terms of a combination of 42 simple personal and household characteristics."
The U.S. Census Bureau has given the Department of Homeland Security detailed demographic data on Arab-Americans, New York Times said Friday.
The Washington Times
Commercial companies collecting your personal information on so-called 'confidential' census surveys
Washington Post
"The federal government also plans to use the ACS to screen for households with specific characteristics, according to the Census Bureau. Such households could be identified through the basic survey or through the use of supplemental questions."

Corporate Interests:
The U.S. Census Bureau continues its practice of subcontracting to commercial third parties to gather personal information from Census takers in 2010
Lockheed Martin
"Pearson Government Solutions will oversee the system’s data capture management for paper forms and will perform citizen contact management operations for Lockheed Martin."
Washington Technology
"In support of the 2010 Census, the Lockheed Martin team will design, build, test, deploy, implement, operate, maintain, and secure the systems, infrastructure, staffing, procedures, and facilities needed to provide assistance to the public through the telephone and Internet."
"Evolver combines its core competencies with strong industry and agency knowledge in the areas of Homeland Security, Census, Intelligence, Technology Modernization, and Telecommunications."
Evolver, Inc
In 2000, The Census Bureau contracted with Lockheed Martin and Kodak to collect, scan in, and archive millions of census forms filled out by unsuspecting individuals for the 2000 decennial census. Far from keeping your personal information confidential, this agency continually engages in practices that expose you and your family to privacy violations on a regular basis.
CSC is part of a TRW team that was awarded a data capture services contract for Census 2000 by the Bureau of the Census of the U.S. Department of Commerce in January 1998. CSC will operate and manage one of three contracted centers that will support the decennial census.

A sample 2005 ACS questionnaire containing 42 privacy invading questions about every individual living at a particular address along with 25 detailed questions about the property itself.
U.S. Census Bureau
A 2002 report from the GAO that points out the mandatory nature of the ACS is based largely upon historical precedence and the fact that a voluntary survey would cost more money. In addition, it was pointed out that many federal agencies have direct access to ACS data. So much for confidentiality.
United States General Accounting Office
Instructions of how to fill out an ACS with a list of all the wonderful things government will do to you with the information you provide
U.S. Census Bureau
The official operations plan for the American Community Survey. In this plan, the Census Bureau admits to misleading the American people regarding their legal obligations by mis-labeling sample surveys as being mandatory in order to gauge differing response rates (p51-53). Do you feel like a rat in a cage yet?
U.S. Census Bureau
A report from the 2001 Meeting of the American Statistical Association regarding those individuals who actually value their privacy enough to resist providing information to government snoops.

The American Statistical Association

Propaganda from the U.S. Census Bureau on why individuals should happily submit to an invasion of their privacy by any unelected bureaucrat with a shiny badge and a clipboard
U.S. Census Bureau