2020 Census Nuts and Bolts

In a recent briefing call, census expert Terri Ann Lowenthal and Dr. Joseph Salvo, director of the Population Division of the New York City Department of Planning, discussed key milestones for the 2020 Census, ways to measure census progress and accuracy and major operational and field infrastructure preparations for 2018 and 2019. Click on the link below for a recording of the call and additional information:


FY2019 Census Budget Letter

About 150 Census Project stakeholders co-signed a letter to Congressional policymakers urging them to add more funding to the Trump administration’s FY2019 requests for the 2020 Census.

“We respectfully recommend that the committee allocate $4.735 billion for the Census Bureau in FY2019 —$933.50 million above the Administration’s request for the agency, and $912.5 million above the request of $3.015 billion for the 2020 Census,” the letter said.

Describing FY2019 as “a critical year on the path toward the decennial census” the co-signature letter said the FY2019 ramp-up must include additional funding for more partnership specialists to encourage participation by hard-to-count communities, increased advertising/communications funds, additional local census offices and questionnaire assistance centers. The Census Project letter also called for a $300 million contingency fund “in the event of IT failures or natural disasters, including hurricanes and wildfires.”

Included in the administration original request is funding in FY2019 for:

  • completing all address canvassing operations;
  • opening Area Census Offices across the country;
  • finalizing IT systems readiness and security;
  • recruiting and hiring approximately 76,000 personnel for “in field” address canvassing this Summer/Fall;
  • launching the first phase of the communications campaign and making initial advertising buys; and
  • developing the Census 2020 website.

Congressional action on the FY2019 is expected to begin in May.

Congressional Hearing on Citizenship Question Set

Amidst swirling controversy about the announcement by the Trump administration that they intend to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census form, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has scheduled a hearing on the issue on May 8.

Meanwhile, coordinated by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Service Employees International Union, a group of 300 organizations, including the Census Project, questioned the Trump administration move and called for public hearings.

And, Robert Shapiro, former undersecretary for economic affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce who oversaw the 2000 decennial, has posted a useful blog on the Brookings site on the issue.

Problems in Providence and Citizenship Op-Ed

The field test of new census counting methods for the 2020 Census is now underway in Providence, Rhode Island for about 250,000 households. According to the Census Bureau timetable the door-to-door enumeration (non-response follow-up) begins in early May as initial online, mail and phone responses are completed.

But, according to the first two on-the-ground news articles about the field test, problems have already developed.

On another topic, two former secretaries of Commerce, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, have written an op-ed opposing the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.