A little perusing around the Internet and it's not difficult to find opposition to the American Community Survey.
Critics of the annual tool of the U.S. Census Bureau have called the survey "Big Brother" and "Orwellian" because it asks for detailed answers that provide the federal government with "the most intimate details of your life," according to an article entitled "American Community Survey: Penalties, jail time, no scam, oh my!"
A Gazette reader recently received the 2013 version of the ACS and wondered if it's a legitimate thing that must be filled out.
Well, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding "yes."
The American Community Survey was fully implemented in 2005 and is used by the Census Bureau to fill in the gaps between the regular censuses taken every 10 years. The survey is 48 questions long and asks things such as how many times a person has been married, what time people usually leave for work and other details about wages, bonuses, interest dividends, etc.
According to federal law, those who choose not to answer the questions can be fined up to $5,000 or given jail time for providing false information on the survey.
The U.S. Census Bureau describes the ACS as "an ongoing survey that provides data every year, giving communities the current information they need to plan investments and services" and determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are distributed.
The Census Bureau chooses 3.5 million Americans at random each year to take the survey. The ACS is either mailed out or a census worker will come the home of the selected person. Those who want to fill out the survey online can do so by going to census.gov/acs and logging in with a 10-digit ID number provided on their survey card.
Results from the 2012 ACS are scheduled to be released Thursday.