Planning Connects the Census to Communities

Resources and Tools

The 2020 Census is only three short years away, but the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) and the United States Census Bureau (Census Bureau) are already hard at work guaranteeing the accuracy of Maryland’s counts. One of the ways we are doing this is through the Local Update of Census Addresses Operation, otherwise known as LUCA. The Census Bureau conducted its first LUCA in preparation for the 2000 Census and has been fine tuning the process for each successive count. It is the only opportunity for tribal, state, and local governments to review and comment on the Census Bureau’s residential address list prior to the 2020 Census. A complete and accurate address list will allow the Census Bureau to reach every living quarters in the state.

LUCA is a multi-year effort which started in January of this year with an advanced notice mailing to the highest elected official (HEO) or Tribal Chairperson (TC) for all eligible governments. LUCA will unfold as follows:

  • Now – December 2017: Preparation activities, including the GSS Partnership Program, Boundary and Annexation Survey, and Address Count List comparison
  • June 2017: LUCA promotional workshops
  • July 2017: Invitation letter and registration forms mailed to HEOs or TCs
  • October 2017: Training workshops, self-training aids, and webinars begin
  • February 2018: Participation materials mailed to registered participants
  • August 2019: Feedback materials provided to participants
  • April 1, 2020: Census Day!

Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution outlines the legal requirement for a decennial census, but the benefits for localities participating in the Census go far beyond adherence to constitutional mandates. More than $400 billion in annual federal funds for infrastructure, programs, and services are distributed based on many factors, but a key one is Census information. Essentially, a correct count ensures the appropriate amount of funding for jurisdictions. If your community has grown, but the new addresses are not captured through the LUCA process, your jurisdiction might receive insufficient funding for vital community development needs. Beyond federal monies, a correct count also helps localities best plan for their future.
The Census Bureau will provide participating jurisdictions with all the tools and information they need to ensure correct address lists for 2020. In addition to the list of addresses it currently has on file, The Census Bureau will also send the new Geographic Update Partnership Software (GUPS), which is a self-contained Geographic Information System (GIS) update and processing package and Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) partnership shapefiles. The best part is jurisdictions do not need a current ArcGIS license to use this software!

Planning is a key partner in LUCA; connecting Maryland jurisdictions to the Census Bureau. Over the next few months, Planning will be organizing workshops and trainings through which HEOs, TCs, and local staff can learn about LUCA and how to use the tools provided by the Census Bureau. However, local officials and staff do not need to wait for Planning or the Census Bureau to reach out to them. If you would like more information about these trainings and LUCA, please contact Erin Goodnough at You can also learn more about LUCA at the U.S. Census website.

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