Your article, "Postcards from the census?" (Top of the News, July 12), badly mischaracterizes my position on what the 2000 census should look like. I've never advocated a "bare bones" or postcard census.
In fact, I recognize that some demographic data can only be collected in useful form through the census. But Census Bureau tests show that as the amount of information goes up, mail response goes down, and so does the accuracy of the population counts.
This is why we need to gather some of the information in other ways throughout the decade. The results won't just be more accurate population numbers. We'll have data that is far more accurate by virtue of timeliness, even though it might not look so precise in terms of geographic detail.
Thomas C. Sawyer
Chairman, subcommittee on the census
U.S. House of Representatives