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The decennial census is a constitutionally-mandated activity that produces critical data used to apportion congressional seats, redraw congressional districts, and allocate billions of dollars in federal assistance.
Decennial census data need to be as accurate as possible because the population counts are used for, among other purposes, allocating federal grants to states and local governments. The U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) used statistical methods to estimate the accuracy of 1990 and 2000 Census data.
The federal government distributed about $400 billion in federal grants in fiscal year 2003 through about 1,000 different federal grant programs administered by several federal agencies with different administrative requirements.
In fiscal year 2000, about $283 billion in federal grant money was distributed to state and local governments by formula, about half of it through four formula grant programs--Medicaid, Foster Care Title IV-E, Adoption Assistance, and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG).