Census Stakeholders Urge Congress to Follow Through on Full Funding for 2020 Count in FY19 Appropriations

WASHINGTON – Key stakeholders who closely monitor preparations for the 2020 Decennial Census today sent a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees urging them keep faith with their robust funding of the U.S. Census Bureau as they prepare the nation’s FY 2019 funding bills, or risk a failed 2020 head count.

The broad-based network of business, civic, and academic groups committed to a full, fair, complete, and accurate 2020 Census, recommended that the committees allocate $4.735 billion for the Census Bureau in FY2019 —$933.50 million above the Administration’s request, including $912.5 million above the request of $3.015 billion for the 2020 Census itself.

“Our enhanced funding recommendation would allow the Bureau the flexibility to increase the number of partnership specialists or assistants from 1,000 to 2,000; expand targeted advertising and promotion to hard-to-count communities as part of the Communications Campaign; and broaden its ‘field footprint’ through more local census offices or questionnaire assistance centers, thus ensuring a greater presence in every region of the country in light of a lower projected self-response rate,” the letter said.

“We have said all along that 2019 is the critical year for funding census operations to ensure a quality count, and now is no time to take the foot off the gas,” said Phil Sparks, spokesman for the coalition.

While acknowledging the considerable increase in funding in the just-passed Omnibus for FY2018, the coalition wrote in their letter that: “…While the significant funding ramp-up Congress provided in FY2018 is helping the Census Bureau reset decennial preparations, many technical and operational challenges remain, making FY2019 the last opportunity for Congress to ensure that IT systems, innovative methodologies, and new operations are in place for a successful 2020 Census.”

“Decennial census data are central to our democracy, affecting not only apportionment and redistricting, but also the distribution of approximately $600 billion in federal assistance to states and localities each year,” said Phil Sparks of the Census Project.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.