Insights Association – Update on Census 2020 Spending Battle

This blog was originally posted by the Insights Association on November 16.


By Howard Fienberg, VP, Advocacy, The Insights Association and Co-director, The Census Project

The possibility of a federal government shutdown looms if Congress and the President fail to agree on funding for a number of federal agencies for Fiscal Year 2019, including the Census Bureau. Even a brief shutdown could jeopardize the 2020 Census.

While both House and Senate Appropriations Committees have passed their respective CJS Appropriations bills funding the Census Bureau, neither side of Congress has passed the legislation, and the two versions are a billion dollars apart in their Census funding levels overall.

As explained by the co-directors of the Census Project coalition, “Census 2020 operations are at a critical juncture. The Census Bureau is perfecting IT systems and other innovations tested during the 2018 End-to-End Readiness Test. The agency is also pursuing final design decisions and preparations for the 2020 Census, which will be the nation’s first digital decennial census. FY 2019 is the Bureau’s last opportunity to ensure the next decennial is accomplished inclusively, cost effectively, and successfully and to prepare for unique cybersecurity threats and self-response challenges confronting the 2020 Census.”

In a letter to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the co-directors encouraged Mulvaney, “given the uncertainty surrounding the final FY 2019 CJS deliberations, and the delicate, consequential state of Census 2020 preparations,” to exercise his “authority and ensure uninterrupted funding for the Census Bureau if a partial government shutdown occurs. Census Data are vital to America’s economy and local planning, as well as countless investment decisions made every day. Ensuring the timely delivery of the 2020 data should be a national priority.”

The Insights Association is echoing these concerns with Members of Congress and the White House.

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