The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution. The population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats (congressional apportionment), electoral votes, and government program funding. The United States Census Bureau (officially the Bureau of the Census, as defined in Title 13 U.S.C. § 11) is responsible for the United States Census.
The first census after the American Revolution was taken in 1790, under Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson; there have been 22 federal censuses since that time. The current national census was held in 2010 and the next census is scheduled for 2020. For years between the decennial censuses, the Census Bureau issues estimates made using surveys and statistical models, in particular, the American Community Survey.
Title 13 of the United States Code governs how the Census is conducted and how its data is handled. Information is confidential as per 13 U.S.C. § 9. Refusing or neglecting to answer the census is punishable by fines of $100, for a property or business agent to fail to provide correct names for the census is punishable by fines of $500, and for a business agent to provide false answers for the census is punishable by fines of $10,000, pursuant to 13 U.S.C. § 221-224.
The United States Census is a population census, which is distinct from the U.S. Census of Agriculture, which is no longer the responsibility of the Census Bureau. It is also distinct from local censuses conduced by some states or local jurisdictions.
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