The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution, and is used (among other things) to determine how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding each year is spent on infrastructure and services.
Participation is mandatory, and the US Government (including the President) are engaged in a campaign to raise awareness and drive participation. Indeed, they have a very modern looking website, a blog, and are even using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, flickr, downloadable widgets to get the message out (see the What You Can Do) page. And I'm really impressed with this use of the Internet, social networking, and more to get the word out.
Or rather, I *WAS* impressed. Until I saw the message "We Can't Move Forward Until You Mail It Back". Mail it back? Really? We have a really nice web site in over 50 languages, social site integration, even a slick Flash powered interactive version of the form .... and then this:
Q: Can I fill out my form online?
A: No. Not at this time. We are experimenting with Internet response for the future.
The future? Really? As in the next US Census in 2020?
2000 was still early Internet days, so back then this would have been forgivable. But this is 2010, people live online, a couple of months ago online holiday shopping $s exceeded in store shopping $s, we bank online, utilities prefer to send you e-bills, and on and on and on .... But mail back your Census form, and we'll revisit in the future!
Ouch! What a failure!