Schatz-Smith letter to CJS re. FY21 Census Funding

Through April 6, Senators Schatz and Smith are circulating the below letter for signature in support of funding the Census Bureau in Fiscal Year 2021. 

Thank you for considering this opportunity to support the Census Bureau.

Dear Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Shaheen:

As you consider fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations, we write to respectfully request your support for $1.681 billion for the Census Bureau as a minimum funding level, with $1.392 billion for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account and $288.4 million for the Current Surveys and Programs account. 

The decennial census is a cornerstone of our constitutional system of government.  It is used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College and helps to guide the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funding for healthcare, education, roads and bridges, first responders, rural businesses, and other vital services.  Census data also allows the private sector to make sounds investments by identifying unsaturated or merging growth markets and develop business plans and loan applications.

As the 2020 Census concludes, the Census Bureau will need adequate resources to process decennial census data and submit it to the president for apportionment by December 31, 2020 and to the states for redistricting by April 2, 2021.  Among the other post-decennial census needs, the Census Bureau must also conduct its post-enumeration survey and close 2020 Census field operations.  To properly execute its duties, the Census Bureau must have adequate resources to support its ongoing operations, such as the decennial census data output and the American Communities Survey (ACS).  The Census Bureau will also be developing new data confidentiality tools and software and applying these items to its data products.

The Census Bureau’s FY 2021 funding request anticipates using $389 million in carryover funding to support conclusion of 2020 Census data compilation and publication and ongoing research and development operations.  Carryover funding will also be used to transition the Census Bureau to a new system for storing and cross-referencing data and reconfiguring and relocating three key Census Bureau offices. 

The Census Bureau’s FY 2021 request does not account for the use of its FY 2020 contingency funds, a significant portion of which will be used to ensure the Bureau adequately responds to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  We ask that the Committee provide flexibility to increase the Census Bureau’s discretionary appropriations in light of these unplanned expenditures.

Furthermore, of the amounts appropriated for the Census Bureau, we recommend restoring $9 million for the Survey of Income and Program Participation, which is used to estimate future costs and coverage of government programs.

We thank you for your continued support of the Census Bureau.