If you're one of the 25 percent or so of U.S. residents who neglected to take a few minutes to fill out their census form and send it back to the government, then shame on you.

It was your duty to do so, for a multitude of reasons.

Now you're going to be asked to welcome someone into your home to ask you the same questions that were on the form. This person is a census taker.

Local, state and federal officials are encouraging residents who did not respond to the 2010 Census to answer the door when enumerators knock.

About 635,000 Census takers began canvassing neighborhoods and residences this month to follow up on households that either didn't mail back their form, didn't receive one, or sent a form in too late to be processed. An estimated 48 million addresses will be visited through July 10.

"America has had a very successful first half of the 2010 Census, where more than 72 percent of the nation's households mailed back their Census forms," U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves said, "but achieving a complete and accurate Census requires us to now go door-to-door to count all the remaining households we've not heard back from."

Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors Executive Director David M. Sanko said that so far, Pennsylvania has done much better than the national average by achieving a 76-percent return rate during the 2010 Census mail-in campaign, which concluded in April.

"Judging by the numbers, Pennsylvanians have been supportive of the Census, but we still have more ground to cover," he said. "I'm encouraging everyone who lives in a township and did not fill out their Census form to open their door to the enumerators. By cooperating, residents will ensure that their community receives its fair share of more than $400 billion in federal funding allocated each year based on Census numbers. This money helps to support such things as local roads and bridges, emergency services, recreation and economic development programs, schools, job training, senior centers, and hospitals."

Sanko noted that townships, along with the rest of Pennsylvania, will be short-changed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for every person who isn't counted. In fact, researchers have estimated that 102,000 Pennsylvanians were overlooked during the 2000 Census, a number equal to the populations of Altoona and Lancaster combined.

In addition to dollars, Census figures also impact federal, state, and local politics by determining state numbers in the U.S. House of Representatives and where legislative boundaries are drawn

Please be courteous to the census taker when he or she arrives at your door. But also be sure the person calling is a legitimate census taker.

Here are some ways to verify that the person knocking on your door is a legitimate Census taker:

Ÿ The Census taker must present an ID badge with a U.S. Dept. of Commerce watermark and expiration date. The Census taker may also be carrying a black canvass bag with a Census Bureau logo.

Ÿ If asked, the Census taker will provide you with supervisor contact information and the local Census office phone number for verification.

Ÿ The Census taker will only ask you the questions that appear on the 2010 Census form.

It's important to note that Census takers will not ask for a Social Security, bank account, or credit card number, solicit donations, or contact you by e-mail.

In most cases, Census workers will visit each address three times and try to telephone up to three times. If the resident does not answer, the Census worker will leave a door hanger and a phone number that the resident may call to schedule an interview.

When that visitor comes to your door, please cooperate. We don't want this area to be shortchanged because the government is lacking the proper information needed to distribute government funds.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com