Census wants 2020 outreach to be mobile and social

Shutterstock editorial image (by Gil C): State Census Bureau homepage.

The Census Bureau is looking for a contractor to conduct its communications outreach for the 2020 count.

The agency released its final request for proposals for the 2020 Census Integrated Communications Contract, an estimated $415 million undertaking, at the end of January.

The main thrust of the contract's work will be to engage and motivate the American people to get counted in the decennial enumeration, said Lisa Blumerman, associate director for Decennial Census Programs.

That engagement will cover a wide spectrum of activities, from traditional advertising to social media outreach and data analytics, the RFP states.

Maximizing self-response rates is a key part of Census leaders' goal to save billions by limiting the process of sending enumerators to homes. The Integrated Communications Contract will be a key part of that effort.

Census officials have said the 2020 count will be unlike any previous census, with a majority of respondents checking in online.

They are consulting with the General Services Administration's 18F to finesse the 2020 user experience. In response to a question from a potential bidder, Census officials could not confirm whether the U.S. Digital Service is helping prepare the technology for the 2020 enumeration, "given the number of programs and areas within the Census Bureau."

The Integrated Communications Contract also calls for innovative and creative ideas from potential contractors. To demonstrate those ideas, interested companies must mock up an outreach plan for a census of the New Orleans designated market area and submit it with their proposals.

"You will have to use your imagination," the RFP states. "The purpose is to see how each offeror would go about planning and developing a communications program for the census within a smaller geographic area rather than nationwide."

Proposals are due by Feb. 22.

Census officials anticipate awarding a single requirements contract with five year-long option periods stretching through 2022, and their target for awarding the contract is Aug. 17, 2016.

The Integrated Communications Contract is one of many key decisions officials plan to make in 2016 as they gear up for end-to-end testing next year of the technology for the 2020 census.

About the Author

Zach Noble is a staff writer covering digital citizen services, workforce issues and a range of civilian federal agencies.

Before joining FCW in 2015, Noble served as assistant editor at the viral news site TheBlaze, where he wrote a mix of business, political and breaking news stories and managed weekend news coverage. He has also written for online and print publications including The Washington Free Beacon, The Santa Barbara News-Press, The Federalist and Washington Technology.

Noble is a graduate of Saint Vincent College, where he studied English, economics and mathematics.

Click here for previous articles by Noble, or connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.


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