Census Bureau Management Trouble

In any large and complex undertaking, sometimes the smallest decisions can be the most important. The planning, funding and taking of the 2020 Census certainly falls into that category.

Required by the U.S. Constitution, the census is the largest peacetime activity undertaken by our country every ten years. In 2020 the census will employ 500,000 temporary census takers to go door-to-door to portions of the nation’s 130 million households to finish-up the count of those not participating by internet.

The 2020 Census represents a steep challenge for the Census Bureau’s top management. That’s why the Bureau’s job of deputy director is so important. Currently, the position is held on a temporary basis by a career professional – as has always been the case. Traditionally, the deputy director is the nuts-and-bolts person who administers the Bureau on a day-to-day basis AND oversees the decennial census.

But, the Trump Administration is seriously considering replacing the current career professional with a political appointee, Professor Thomas Brunell of the University of Texas at Dallas, with no known management experience and a deeply partisan background in GOP re-districting efforts.

Professional associations like the Population Association of America, representing America’s demographers, and others have weighed-in against the potential appointment.