Reflections Regarding the FY 2020 Census Funding Anomaly

Census stakeholders were pleased when the White House recently released its list of funding anomalies, which included $5.9 billion for the 2020 Census, anticipating the need for a continuing resolution (CR) when the current fiscal year (FY), FY 2019, ends on September 30. Why? Because making the list is an important first step towards ensuring the 2020 Census will be fully funded and able to keep key operations on track while Congress and the Administration negotiate a final FY 2020 appropriations package. Congress now knows funding the 2020 Census, even during a continuing resolution when most of the federal government will be funded at last year’s funding level, is an Administration priority to be singled out for additional funding.

So why are census stakeholders still concerned? While the White House has done the right thing and asked Congress for a 2020 Census funding anomaly, regrettably the requested anomaly is not for the full amount, $7.5 billion, that the House of Representatives approved, nor is it for a full year. As a result, the Administration’s request introduces huge uncertainty in decennial census operations just as the Bureau has launched the first major operation of 2020, Address Canvassing—an operation further disrupted in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida by the recent impact of Hurricane Dorian.

To inoculate the 2020 Census against the perils of potential delays and disruptions in the FY 2020 funding cycle, stakeholders are urging Congress and the Administration to provide the 2020 Census with a full year funding anomaly totaling $7.5 billion in this first iteration of the FY 2020 CR.

The U.S. House of Representative recommended providing the Census Bureau with $7.5 billion in FY 2020, as well as hundreds of census stakeholders nationwide. Now is the time to invest in the 2020 Census and not let its funding nor constitutionally derived mission be derailed by FY 2020 funding deliberations and delays.

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