Outside Testimony on Census FY 2024 Funding

Stakeholders can help to advance Census Bureau funding priorities by sharing their own written testimony with the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittees.

Outside witness testimony must be submitted to the House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee by April 24, 2023 and to the Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee by May 12.

Instructions from the subcommittees need to be followed carefully.

When drafting their own testimony, stakeholders can follow or build upon The Census Project’s FY 2024 funding recommendation for the Census Bureau.

It is recommended that the testimony explicitly state support for ensuring funding for the Census Bureau is a priority in the Fiscal Year 2024 CJS appropriations bills and to encourage the subcommittees to provide the agency with $2 billion in FY 2024.

The White House FY 2024 Budget Request for Census Bureau

The White House issued its Fiscal Year 2024 (FY 2024) budget on March 9, 2023, including $1.606 billion for the Census Bureau — a $121 million increase from the $1.485 billion appropriated in FY 2023.

The President’s FY 2024 budget requests $375,673,000 for Current Surveys and Programs (a $45 million increase from FY 2023) and $1,230,331,000 for Periodic Censuses and Programs (a $75 million increase from FY 2023).

The Census Bureau’s detailed budget submission to Congress is here.

The Census Project will issue its FY 2024 funding request shortly, recommending that the Census Bureau receive $2 billion ($394 million more than the President’s request, and a $521 million increase from FY 2023) to support 2030 Census preparations, pursue necessary technical innovations, expand programs like the Population Estimates, and enhance surveys, especially the American Community Survey (ACS) (informed by the ACS: America’s Data at Risk report).

The FY 2024 request for the Current Surveys and Programs account highlights:

  • Current Economic Statistics: $249 million in FY 2024 (an increase of $28 million from FY 2023), including:
    • A “new program designed to measure the production of advanced and emerging technologies by U.S. businesses.”
    • Expansion of “the Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes Program, which provides data on earnings and employment outcomes for college and university graduates by degree level, degree major, and post-secondary institution.”
    • A new “annual Puerto Rico Economic Survey and a monthly/quarterly economic indicator collection for Puerto Rico.”
  • Current Demographic Statistics: $127 million in FY 2024 (an increase of $18 million) to:
    • Establish and maintain “an infrastructure that supports improvements to intercensal population estimates, including improvements to the estimates base used to develop the annual population estimates.”
    • Formalize “a pilot program to re-use administrative records to improve measurement of health care characteristics and advance the nation’s understanding of population health.”
    • Research “innovative approaches to generating estimates about smaller population groups for the Current Population Survey” and “formalizing the Community Resilience Estimates program.”
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP): $19 million in FY 2024 (same as FY 2023). “Mandatory appropriations are provided by the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance Program Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 … to support data collection by the Current Population Survey (CPS) on the number of low-income children who do not have health insurance coverage. Data from this enhanced survey are used in the formula to allocate funds to States under the SCHIP program.”

The FY 2024 request for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account highlights:

  • Periodic Economic Programs: $166 million in FY 2024 (a decrease of $24 million from FY 2023), including the Economic Census and the Census of Governments:
    • Data collection for the Economic Census, plus “follow-up activities to increase response, complete data collection, complete the process that captures company changes to update the master list of businesses, perform micro and macro analytical data review, and release “first look” national industry data.”
  • 2030 Census: $408.9 million, which is $160.1M over the FY 2023 funding level.
  • American Community Survey: $259.8 million, which is $9 million over the program’s FY 2023 funding level
    • “In 2024, entering the third year of its program lifecycle, the 2030 Census will approach its first major milestone, the selection of an operational design. Building on successful innovations implemented for the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau is researching ways to further enhance the program’s design.”“The American Community Survey (ACS) will continue efforts begun in 2023 to construct better question-wording on sexual orientation and gender identity topics.”
    • The ACS will also “continue to provide a testbed for innovative survey and data processing techniques that can be used across the Bureau.”
  • Geographic Support: $115 million in FY 2024 (a decrease of $1 million from FY 2023).
  • Enterprise Data Collection & Dissemination Systems: $280 million in FY 2024 (an increase of $54 million from FY 2023) supporting “major data collection, processing, and dissemination systems and associated research for the Census Bureau’s programs,” including:
    • Onboarding programs into the new dissemination system.
    • Integrating the “Enterprise Data Lake (EDL) with the Data Collection and Ingest for the Enterprise (DICE) programs. The DICE program will deploy functionality in support of several demographic and economic surveys and provide operational support for use of the DICE systems. It will also begin developing functionality to support onboarding additional surveys in subsequent years. Finally, the program will expand the use of ingest capabilities for third-party and administrative data.”
    • Implementing the Evidence Act “to increase research at the Census Bureau, support more complex, multi-agency, large dataset projects, and bring new types of researchers to the Census Bureau, including those new to research and in need of mentoring, and an initiative to improve the Census Bureau’s ability to measure the impact of the environment and natural disasters on people and economy.”
    • Advancing “software engineering and data science applications at the Census Bureau” and continuing “research on improving data collection methods.”

The President’s budget anticipates a drop in full-time employees (FTEs) at the Census Bureau from 2,926 in FY 2023 to only 2,477 in FY 2024.

Congressional Dear Colleague Letters Circulating In Support of FY 2024 Funding For Census Bureau

Dear Colleague letters in support of Census Bureau funding are circulating in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024:

  • In the House, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA-28)’s letter urges House appropriators to “prioritize as much funding as possible for the U.S. Census Bureau.” Signatures from other House offices are due by March 29.
  • In the Senate, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)’s letter urges Senate appropriators to “prioritize funding for the U.S. Census Bureau by providing the agency with $2 billion.” Signatures from other Senate offices are due by March 31.

These letters are important opportunities for members of Congress to communicate their support for funding the Census Bureau to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittees. The CJS subcommittee has jurisdiction over funding for the Census Bureau.

Fiscal Year 2024 President’s Budget Request and The Census Project Funding Recommendation

On March 3, media outlets confirmed that President Biden is expected to release the preliminary details of his Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget request on March 9.  That day, the Administration will release its annual summary volume, which outlines the president’s main budget message, major priorities, brief details on each agency’s request, and summary tables. Other explanatory documents, including narratives that the agencies prepare, known as congressional justifications, will be released on March 13.

The Census Project will be providing a summary of the Census Bureau’s request and releasing its FY 2024 funding recommendation shortly after the full details of the President’s budget are made public. In sum, The Census Project will be recommending that the Census Bureau receive $2 billion in FY 2024 to support 2030 Census preparations, pursue necessary technical innovations, expand programs, such as Population Estimates, and enhance surveys, most notably, the American Community Survey.

Proposals to Radically Grow the House of Representatives

A Washington Post column on February 28, 2023 argued in favor of radically expanding the number of seats in the House of Representatives. A couple of recent Congressional bills agree.

Columnist Danielle Allen insisted that the House was originally “supposed to grow with every decennial census. James Madison even included in the Bill of Rights an amendment laying out a formula forcing the House to grow from 65 to 200 members, then allowing it to expand beyond that.” While Representatives currently “represent roughly 762,000 people each,” that number could “reach 1 million by mid-century,” she said. The 1929 Permanent Apportionment Act, Allen continued, effectively limited the size of the House to only 435 Members and “set the decennial reapportionment of the House on autopilot.”

Allen cited as her rationale: (1) “representatives are too removed from their constituents”; (2) “Congress has a much larger budget to track and manage, and many more agencies to review”; (3) smaller districts could mean cheaper election campaigns; and (4) enhancing “equal protection and inclusivity.”

Meanwhile, in the House itself, a pair of bills would follow Allen’s lead:

  1. The Equal Voices Act (H.R. 643), introduced by Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL-06), would “require that the average number the average number of constituents represented by a Member from any State” would be “equivalent to the number of constituents represented by the Member from the least populous State and to apportion Representatives among the States accordingly.”
  2. The Restoring Equal and Accountable Legislators in the House Act (REAL House Act) (H.R. 622), introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), would expand the number of House seats for the post-2030 Census redistricting to 585, with increases at each census thereafter. Blumenauer has a 1-pager on the bill, and the bill’s impact was recently analyzed by the American Redistricting Project.

Next Meeting of Census Science Advisors on March 9-10

The Census Bureau announced the scheduling of the next meeting of the Census Scientific Advisory Committee (CSAC) for March 9-10, 2023.

The agenda includes: comments and feedback on the Bureau’s request for input on 2030 Census planning; the Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS); revising OMB’s race and ethnicity standards; new privacy methods; mapping systems; and other issues.

CSAC addresses emerging census challenges, advising the Census Bureau “on the uses of scientific developments in statistical data collection, survey methodology, geospatial and statistical analysis, econometrics, cognitive psychology, business operations and computer science as they pertain to the full range of Census Bureau programs and activities, including census tests, policies and operations.”

Senate CJS Subcommittee Takes Shape for 118th Congress

Many Congressional committee and subcommittee assignments of impact on the decennial census and American Community Survey (ACS) are already sorted out, but we finally have clarity on the primary drivers of funding in the Senate.

The Senate Commerce Justice Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over funding for the Census Bureau, will be chaired by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), with Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) serving as ranking member.

Democrat Senators on the subcommittee include Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

Republican Senators on the subcommittee include Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Kennedy (R-LA), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Katie Britt (R-AL), and Deb Fischer (R-NE).

OMB Requests Comments: Revisions to Federal Race and Ethnicity Data Collection Standards

On January 27, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a request for comments in the Federal Register on initial proposals from the Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnicity Standards to improve the “quality and usefulness of Federal race and ethnicity data.” The announcement includes proposals to create a Middle Eastern or North African category and a combined race-ethnicity question. Further, the notice seeks comments on proposals to modernize the definitions of certain categories.

Comments can be submitted here and are due April 12.

STANDARD DEVIATIONS: New Report Discusses Implications of the Census Bureau’s Blended Base

By Dr. William P. O’Hare, President, O’Hare Data and Demographic Services LLC
Standard Deviations blog posts represent the views of the author/organization, but not necessarily those of The Census Project.

Since the 1970s, the Census Bureau has produced yearly population estimates for states and counties for the decade following each Decennial Census. The estimation method used by the Census Bureau starts with a population base and then adds or subtracts estimated yearly incremental change to that base.

In the past, the Decennial Census counts have provided the estimates base, but the 2020 Census detailed data needed for the base was not available in time to use with the 2021 and 2022 population estimates, so the Census Bureau staff developed a new methodology called the PEP (Population Estimates Program) blended base.

It is important to assess the implications of the PEP blended base for children, because children (ages 0 to 17) had a 2.1 percent undercount in the 2020 Census compared to a 0.25 percent overcount for adults. A new paper provides guidance for child advocates, researchers, and data analysts on the potential impact of the Census Bureau’s new PEP blended base methodology for the child population (ages 0 to 17) by looking at how the data from the blended base compares to the data from the 2020 Census for the population ages 0 to 17 (“Comparing the Accuracy of the 2020 Census Counts to Population Estimates Program Blended Base for Age Groups of Children.”)

Key results are shown below:

  • At the national level, the number of children for April 1, 2020 from the PEP blended base was 74,385,212 compared to 73,106,000 in the 2020 Census. 
  • The PEP blended base estimates were larger than the 2020 Census counts in nearly every state (48 out of 50 states and DC). 
  • The 2020 Census count is larger than the PEP blended base in 1,234 counties. On the other hand, there are 1,903 counties where the PEP blended base provided a larger number of children than the 2020 Census count.
  • In terms of the national share of children in a state, there are 35 states where the Census count is larger than the PEP blended base estimate in terms of national shares. 
  • When national shares were examined, the 2020 Census count was larger than the PEP blended base in half (50 percent) of all counties.

The findings suggest that assessing the impact of the PEP blended base on the child population will be complicated. Patterns are different depending on whether one examines absolute numbers of children or the national share of children. Also, there are important differences by level of geography (national, state or county).

  • Dr. O’Hare, a member of The Census Project Advisory Committee, is a social demographer who has spent forty years using data to increase public understanding of disadvantaged groups. For the past 25 years, he has been involved in the KIDS COUNT project at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Bill has a Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

Stakeholder Letter to OMB Highlighted by Politico Magazine

recent letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), spearheaded by three major census stakeholder coalitions including The Census Project, was rated “Top Doc” by Politico on January 20, 2023:

Census advocates are disappointed with the $1.7 trillion government funding package that passed in December, arguing in a recent letter to administration officials that the bill fell millions short of what the Census Bureau needs to prepare for the 2030 count.

Worried that “the President’s budget request will represent the high-water mark” in FY 2024 budget debates, the letter urged the Biden Administration to “communicate clearly that the Census Bureau and 2030 Census preparations are major Administration priorities.”  

In addition to the Co-Directors of The Census Project, the letter was signed by representatives of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Ready Nation.