Government Census Surveys Coming to the Internet

The U.S. government is embracing this thing called the Internet. No, you still can't vote in presidential elections while sitting in front of your computer in your skivvies, but for the first time, you will be able to participate in government surveys conducted by the Census Bureau.

Giving U.S. households the ability to respond online is part of logical effort to save money on printing, paper, postage, and processing costs, while maintaining security, the Census Bureau says.. It will supplement, not replace, the snail mail paper form census that dates back to 1970.

The Census Bureau will kick things off this week by mailing out letters to more than 3.5 million randomly selected U.S. households, asking them to respond online. There will be some new questions pertaining to computer and Internet usage.


Households will have two weeks to fill out the survey online. If they don't, they face 10 years in prison. Just kidding -- the Census Bureau will just send out a paper survey and seek an interview by phone or in person.

"The online response option is part of an ongoing digital transformation at the Census Bureau," said Thomas Mesenbourg, the Census Bureau's acting director. "The Census Bureau is transforming to make responding to surveys more convenient, conducting surveys more cost-effective and America's statistics more accessible on digital and mobile devices."

Data from the surveys will be available in 2014.