The U.S Census Bureau's 18-month agenda to realign its field offices across the nation for the first time in 50 years will be completed by January 2013. The restructuring, announced on June 29, 2011, closes regional offices in Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City and Seattle.
The field realignment is part of the digital transformation of the Census Bureau, moving from a bricks-and-mortar model of regional offices to a virtual management structure, and leverages modern survey practices, such as telework, and better tools for field interviews. The new alignment creates an increase of timely information and a more efficient data collection process, while reducing the cost of surveys by an estimated $15 million to $18 million annually.
The new structure redistributes responsibilities to the remaining offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia. This new six-region design allows about 630 supervisory staff to work out of their homes, providing more efficient data collection in more locations. The supervisory field staff has the benefit of working directly with local teams of field representatives managing all data collection for specific areas of geography.
"We undertook this alignment to take advantage of the technology available to us while preserving the quality of our data collection activity in the field," said Thomas Mesenbourg, the Census Bureau's acting director. "In the current era of modern technology we are able to do more with less."
Staff at the Census Bureau's regional offices collect data for surveys, update geographic features important to the Bureau, disseminate statistics created from the data collection and serve as contacts for local media and local organizations to improve participation in censuses and surveys. Approximately 270 permanent positions were cut as a result of the closing of six regional offices. About 88 of the permanent affected employees have been placed into positions at Census Bureau headquarters or in one of the six remaining regional offices, while others have taken advantage of a buyout and early retirement options approved by the Office of Personnel Management.
"The Census Bureau has been committed to finding the best possible outcome for each affected employee in a closing office," Mesenbourg said. "We have been offering job counseling, resume writing courses and other types of assistance since the announcement to close six regional offices was made in 2011."
The realignment increases efficiency, enhances data quality and reduces costs beginning in fiscal year 2014.
To learn more about the new regional office realignment and to view the states serviced by each office, visit <http://www.census.gov/regions/>.