The 2010 Census won't begin for another three years, but advocacy groups already are trying to add more questions onto the census form that will be sent to every American household.
Child welfare groups are fighting the government's decision to drop foster care from the choices listed to describe the relationships of people living under one roof. Ethnic advocacy groups, led by the Arab American Institute, are lobbying to add a question about ancestry.
Every household in 2010 will get a shorter Census form, as required by the Constitution. This "short form" asks all members of every household their gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship to the head of household and whether the home is owned or rented.
There will be no "long form" in 2010, according to present plans by the U.S. Census Bureau. However, many special interest groups want to have their questions added.
Maybe it is time that we review the purpose of the census. It may even surprise a few genealogists to learn that Congress never envisioned it to be a tool for genealogy purposes and never specified that each person's name is to be recorded. Instead, Congress specified that the population is to be counted every ten years. That's counted, not listed by name. The purpose is to provide statistics that are used to apportion seats in Congress.
In later years, Congress has used census statistics to redraw political districts and to allocate federal funds. Over the years, many "extra" questions have been asked for a variety of reasons, ranging from property taxes and indoor plumbing to education, ancestry and commuting patterns.
You can read more about those who want to ask still more questions at http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/census/2007-04-29-census_N.htm.