August 2018 Census Project Update

Census Budget Stalled

With the U.S. House of Representatives out of session most of August, no floor action was taken on the fiscal year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which funds the Census Bureau. The June edition of the Census Project Update summarizes the status of the FY 2019 CJS bill and links to the most recent Census Project co-signature letter, urging quick action on the bill.

At press time, neither the House nor the Senate was planning to bring the FY 2019 CJS bill to the floor. Pundits predict that the CJS bill will be one of several Congress and the Administration will have to fund via a continuing resolution (CR) before the current fiscal year ends on September 30. The next CR is expected to last through late November or early December.

Census Bureau Director Nominee Confirmation Hearings

The Administration’s nomination of Dr. Steven Dillingham is outlined in the Census Project July Update. No additional formal action on his nomination occurred in August. Rumors suggest the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee could hold a confirmation hearing in September; however, no announcements have been posted. The Census Project has not taken a position on the nominee but rather is waiting for the outcome of the confirmation hearing before considering a position.

Citizenship Question

The Administration has now ended a public comment period on its proposed addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form.

With the early August deadline, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights took the lead in generating public opposition. 250,000 individuals and organizations urged the Commerce Department to reverse its position on the citizenship question.

Meanwhile, the media covered the concurrent lawsuits by numerous organizations challenging the action.

Other Reports/Fact Sheets

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report detailing the challenges the Census Bureau has addressed for counting hard-to-count populations in 2020 and comparing current plans with those developed for the last decennial census.

The GAO has provided highlights of the report:

The Census Bureau’s (Bureau) plans for enumerating groups considered hard-to-count, such as minorities, renters, and young children, in the 2020 Census includes the use of both traditional and enhanced initiatives. For example, the Bureau plans to continue using certain outreach efforts used in 2010, such as a communications campaign with paid advertising, partnerships with local organizations, and targeted outreach to immigrant and faith-based organizations. The Bureau also plans enhancements to its outreach efforts compared to 2010. For example, to help address the undercount of young children, the Bureau revised the census questionnaire and instructions to enumerators to more explicitly include grandchildren in counts.

Another new report by the Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality’s (GCPI) Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative details the value of the 2020 Census to both the private and public sectors.