MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
BRIAN NAYLOR: So if you go to 2010Census.gov, scroll down to mail participation rate, and click on Read More, you'll find the Take 10 challenge map. Census director Robert Groves, who used to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, demonstrated how the map works for reporters today. He clicked on Michigan, which has a 20 percent response rate, and then was able to zoom in to Ann Arbor.
BLOCK: Well, Ann Arbor is actually behind the state as a whole. It's only 12 percent, so Ann Arbor has to get their act together. OK, so Ann Arbor was at 12, my little, old neighborhood is at 13. I don't know what they're doing. Since I left, the neighborhood went to hell, I think.
NAYLOR: The census is promoting the map as a way to measure civic pride. The mayors of St. Louis and Kansas City have already bet barbecue and beer on which of their cities has the best response rate, and Groves hopes it will spur people across the country to mail in their forms. The more who do, he says, the less the census will cost taxpayers.
BLOCK: This simple act, of taking 10 minutes or so to fill out your questionnaire and mail it back, ends up being your own little contribution to reducing the federal deficit.
NAYLOR: That's because the more people who return their forms by mail mean the fewer enumerators the census will have to hire to go door-to-door later this spring. Groves says every 1 percent of taxpayers who respond by mail saves $85 million in government spending. The census is an elaborate undertaking. Groves says to ensure every American household gets counted involves a bit of adventure.
BLOCK: Our folks are on horseback in the Southwest and on mules. We're on ATVs and snowmobiles in upper Maine. In the mountains of Alaska, we sometimes take a plane in, and then we're on a snowmobile and then for a few miles, we're walking on snowshoes.
NAYLOR: Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.
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