In a matter of months, a decennial process will begin to count the U.S. population and households.
The 2020 Census will provide statistics and data that serve as the basis of reapportioning congressional seats and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties, and community, according to census.gov.
Fort Worth stands to gain millions in federal dollars through the 2020 Census, as it recently jumped from the 16th largest city in the country to 13th largest.
"With the growth, you have the challenges of keeping up with infrastructure…you know, aging infrastructure but also new infrastructure for new neighborhoods and new developments," said Michelle Gutt with the city of Fort Worth. "So, the city is really experiencing a lot of growth which is exciting, but it can also be challenging when you're talking about keeping up with city services."
In April, the city announced its "Complete Count Committee" -- a diverse group of community leaders who will develop and implement an outreach plan to encourage all residents to respond to the 2020 Census. The plan will focus on reaching Fort Worth's hard-to-count communities -- those who are least likely to respond to typical Census efforts.
At the time, city officials said the committee would be announced "in the coming weeks."
As of Tuesday, Gutt said the city was still finalizing who would serve on the committee of about 20 to 24 people, five months after the initial announcement.
"Ideally, we would have had our complete count committee confirmed by now," Gutt said. "There's not one reason. I think it's just staff, elected officials, everybody having a lot of different projects on their plate and it's not that this isn't important, but it's just one of the things that is taking a little bit longer than we would like to get started."
Jim Riddlesperger, a professor of political science at Texas Christian University, said roughly one-third of Texas' annual spending comes from federal money -- nearly all of that is based per capita.
"So, it's very important for every man, woman and child in Tarrant County and the state of Texas to be counted if Texas going to receive all the benefits it's entitled to from the national government," Riddlesperger said.
To reduce the risk of miscounting, Riddlesperger said cities need to be organized.
"The fact that Tarrant County and Fort Worth appear to be a little behind other cities in Texas and others across the nation is certainly worth noting, but it's not too late for the city to get an accurate count," he said. "It needs to be a real coordinated effort to make sure communities that speak different languages, with cultural differences, that are suspicious of the national government and people that are homeless are counted."
Gutt said the city was not worried about not reaching its goal of making sure every resident is counted in the 2020 Census, as there are currently outreach efforts in place even without their committee finalized.
"We do committee outreach and community engagement on a regular basis and we just came off the race and culture task force," she said. "We have a really robust community engagement effort on a daily basis. It's not going to be something that we're going to be just starting to address the census. It's something we do all the time."
Gutt said the city hoped to announce committee members by next week, with the first meeting later this month.