Congressman Faleomavaega today calls on all residents of American Samoa to make their voices heard and urge them to get counted in the upcoming 2010 Census.
“When you fill out the Census form, you’re making a statement about what resources American Samoa needs,” Faleomavaega stated. “Identifying our needs is a crucial step towards gaining access to federal programs and an overall improved well-being for our people. By participating in the Census, you’re securing our place at the policy-making table.”
“Census data affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal funding is distributed to state and local governments. We need an accurate count of our population to get our fair share of resources for health, education, transportation, and more. Full participation is necessary for our future success.” the Congressman added.
“At the end of March, each P.O. Box in American Samoa will receive an Advance Census Report. Residents will be instructed to complete the form and hold on to it until a Census Enumerator or Census Taker comes to their home to pick up the questionnaire. If the family has not completed the questionnaire or if they did not receive one, the Census Enumerator will be able to assist. Enumerators will be your key resource in filling out the census form; they have been trained to assist with any questions you may have about any part of the Census questionnaire. They will also have extra forms on hand.”
“I commend Alex Zodiacal, our Local Census Office Manager, and his staff in American Samoa who have labored especially hard in publicizing the Census to our communities and in hiring and training staff in preparation for the data collection. I also want to acknowledge Mr. Douglas Lee, the Census Advisor and Liaison to ASG from Census headquarters for his assistance and advice to ensure that we have a complete and accurate Census in American Samoa. Their attention to detail and organization further emphasizes the extreme importance of an accurate count and I commend their efforts,” Faleomavaega added.
“As your representative in Congress, this data also helps me advocate for resources and policies to benefit our people. When you fill out the census form, you are putting the numbers in to back up our needs. It will also help maintain successful programs and give credence for additional programs that we know we need.”
“Your participation will help determine the amount of aid we receive from formula grants and help score proposals for competitive grants in the future. Through an accurate count, we will also have the necessary information to help the private sector and local organizations in determining better strategies for serving our people. In short, we need your help to move forward.”
“I also know that there is a concern or fear of government intrusion. I assure you that your personal information is safe and kept confidential by law. Under Title 13, Section 9 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau is prohibited from sharing your answers with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. All Census Bureau employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of your information. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both. If we plan to move forward as one, we cannot let any false fears keep us from making our voices heard.”
“Once again I strongly urge all residents of American Samoa to make our voices heard in this year’s Census. Our participation today will have a lasting impact in decisions that affect our future over the next ten years. When you receive your form, know that your role will make a difference. Your participation will help secure American Samoa’s place at the table,” Faleomavaega concluded.