August 2019 Census Project Update


Congress returns next week and the Senate Appropriations Committee intends to plow through its appropriations bills, following the July budget agreement. As we explained in the July Update, the agreement revised discretionary spending caps for FY20 and FY21, as well as provided an additional $2.5 billion for the 2020 Census outside of the caps.

However, while we certainly encourage the Senate to swiftly approve $7.5 billion for the 2020 Census in their FY20 CJS Appropriations bill, and $8.45 billion for the Census Bureau overall – which would match the amount approved by the House and requested by census stakeholders – controversies over non-census parts of the CJS bill may make it difficult for Senators to find a compromise before the current fiscal year ends on September 30. Therefore, the White House and Congress will most likely need to work together to provide the Census Bureau with a census funding anomaly as part of a continuing resolution before the fiscal year ends, providing full-year funding for the 2020 Census starting on October 1 instead of forcing minimal preparations to subsist with last year’s funding levels.

Meanwhile, 74 American business leaders also urged Congressional appropriators to “prioritize funding” for the 2020 Census, a “fundamental civic responsibility,” echoing census stakeholders’ funding request.


New details of a study prepared by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and the Counting for Dollars Project at George Washington University details some of the real financial impact of the 2020 Census for America’s communities. POGO released details on federal funding directed at America’s states, cities, and towns from five major federal programs that use Census data to allocate more than $21 billion in federal funds to local governments.

A new report by William P. O’Hare for the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) provides data on omissions in the decennial census. “Understanding Who Was Missed in the 2010 Census” explains that researchers “use two main measures to determine who was missed in the 2010 Decennial Census: omissions and net undercounts. Omissions reflect the number of people who should have been counted in the census but were not, while net undercounts reflect the percent of people who were missed minus the percent who were double counted.”

A new research brief from Child Trends explores “the potential reduction in funding to states for five critical federal programs that could result from an undercount of Hispanics in the 2020 Census.” It includes interactive maps and data tables to “illustrate low, medium, and high estimates of potential losses of federal funding to states for five programs: the Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid, children only), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Title IV-E Foster Care, Title IV-E Adoption Assistance, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).”

A recent brief from the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (GCPI) and National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), “Why the Census Matters for People with Disabilities: A Guide to the 2020 Census Operations & Challenges,” explores the census operations relevant to the disabled community and discusses why the 2020 Census matters for people with disabilities.

According to testimony from GAO at a recent House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hearing, the agency placed the 2020 Census on their “high-risk list in February 2017, and it remains on our high-risk list today. As preparations for the next census continue to ramp up, fully implementing our recommendations to address the risks jeopardizing the 2020 Census is more critical than ever.”

Census Bureau Updates

The next Census Scientific Advisory Committee meeting will be on September 12-13. It will be the first meeting since the Bureau announced new appointments to Committee on August 19.

The Census Bureau has posted a 2020 Census Toolkit for State and Local Officials.

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham posted a blog about the beginning of 2020 Census address canvassing. “As in prior censuses, we will be reviewing 100% of the nation’s address list—the difference this time around is we don’t have to do it all on foot. This month, up to 40,000 temporary field staff began reviewing and updating the nation’s address list for 35% of the country – about 50 million addresses. This decade, and concluding this past March, we used satellite imagery to detect areas where housing changes were occurring. The fieldwork focuses on areas where new addresses were added or removed over the last decade, or where change is expected to occur. Staff examined millions of census blocks nationally, comparing housing units visible in newer satellite imagery with older imagery. We already reviewed 65% of addresses without the need for fieldwork thanks to the advancement of technology and innovation over the last 10 years.”

The Bureau hosted a press briefing about 2020 Census operations on August 12, including a press release on the launch of address canvassing and an associated press kit, a story about how the Bureau checks addresses, a fact sheet on hiring and background checks, a graphic, and an interactive map.

News You Can Use

Below are several articles posted on The Census Project home page in August. For a complete listing, go to: .

Census Bureau abruptly ends just-announced partnership with Muslim advocacy group CAIR
Fox News
August 29, 2019

For Rural America, The 2020 Census Takes On Extra Importance
Wisconsin Public Radio
August 28, 2019

Snubbed by Texas lawmakers, local officials look to children for help to avoid a census undercount
The Texas Tribune
August 27, 2019

Trump’s Quiet Attack on Redistricting
The New Republic
August 19, 2019

The census citizenship question failed. But Alabama is seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants in apportioning congressional seats
The Washington Post
August 15, 2019

Census Bureau defends ‘efficiency’ changes ahead of 2020 count
Roll Call
August 13, 2019

The 2020 Census will determine the fate of billions in federal dollars. Which programs are at stake?
The Philadelphia Inquirer
August 12, 2019

Citizenship Question To Be Removed From 2020 Census In U.S. Territories
August 9, 2019

Census Bureau Seeks to Hire Non-U.S. Citizens Ahead of 2020
U.S. News & World Report
August 6, 2019

500,000 jobs: U.S. Census Bureau becomes nation’s largest ‘gig employer’
The Washington Times
August 6, 2019