Census Experts Say Administration Budget is Short More Than $2 Billion

On April 16, more than 130 groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and National Association of Business Economists, urged the House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership to “appropriate $8.45 billion for the U.S. Census Bureau, including at least $7.58 billion in direct funding for 2020 Census operations, in FY 2020.”

The Trump Administration has claimed to request $7.2 billion for the Census Bureau for FY 2020, but that “obscures and fails to meet the Census Bureau’s true funding needs,” because “it assumes a $1 billion carry over” from FY 2019 of funds that desperately need to be spent in FY 2019. “Congress did not direct the Census Bureau to hold any funds available in FY 2019 in reserve (that is, as a carryover) for FY 2020.”

Even besides that “proposed carryover,” the White House’s “FY 2020 request also falls far short of the projected funding needs set forth in the Commerce Department’s revised census lifecycle cost estimate ($15.6 billion). That in-depth assessment of the decennial census budget estimated a FY 2020 funding level of $7.4 billion. Contrary to the Census Bureau’s current assertion that it needs less money now because it faces less risk, challenges to a successful census have only grown since the Secretary Ross released that estimate in October 2017.”

“Finally,” the letter emphasized, the White House FY 2020 request “doesn’t reflect two historical census funding trends: 1) about half of the census lifecycle costs is spent in the census year; and 2) census year funding for the decennial census is at least twice the funding level of the prior fiscal year.”

Therefore, Census Project stakeholders urged in their letter “to provide the Census Bureau with $8.45 billion in FY 2020, including $7.58 billion in direct funding for the 2020 Census.”

With Congress returning to work on April 29 and heading into a busy summer of FY 2020 appropriations deliberations, census stakeholders hope an agreement to fund the Census Bureau and 2020 Census will be reached before the FY 2020 begins on October 1, 2019.

Read the full letter.