"Communications must create awareness about the census and motivate each household to fill out and return the census questionnaire as soon as possible, as the cost of conducting the census multiplies when forms are not returned promptly," the request said.
"The Census Bureau is seeking a contractor that will create, produce and implement an integrated marketing and communications campaign," the request said, adding that the campaign's strategy needs to be "delivered seamlessly at every stage of the process."
Still a draft
While the document is still a draft -- the Census Bureau is asking for comment and won't issue its final request until early next year -- the proposal makes clear some of the bureau's plans.
In addition to developing a communication strategy and planning and buying media, the proposal asks the winning bidder to conduct public relations and other promotional activities, as well as regional efforts.
The proposal states the contractor should have onboard or subcontract with experts in marketing to African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska natives, native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, and "help further identify and target nonrespondent populations."
The proposal also stipulates that certain percentages of the work have to be handled by small, minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses.
The proposal states the Census Bureau will offer performance incentives, but asks for suggestions on how they should be assessed.
The proposal also notes some changes in the census that will have to be covered in the campaign. The 2010 Census will be the first since 1940 without a "long form," which was sent to a subset of households and asked more than 50 questions. And for the first time, people who don't return their questionnaires by mail will be sent a replacement form before the bureau goes to the cost of sending an enumerator to collect the information in person.