WASHINGTON– As the U.S. House of Representatives moves through the annual Appropriation process this month, an extraordinary coalition of more than 125 business, civic, non-profit and local governments wrote to every Member of the House urging full funding for the imminent 2020 Census. Organized by the Census Project, a broad-based network of business, civic, and academic groups who closely monitor 2020 Census preparations, the letter was cosigned by groups as diverse as the American Pediatric Association, National League of Cities, the Nielson company, the Population Association of America and dozens of varied state and local groups.
The groups wrote; “…[t]he nation’s largest peacetime mobilization and very first responsibility under our Constitution requires substantial resources. An underfunded census would jeopardize the availability and validity of data used to make essential economic, political, and planning decisions in the nation’s private, public, and non-profit sectors over the next decade. To this end, we urge the House of Representatives to ensure a 2020 Census that is equally successful in all communities by supporting the proposed Census Bureau funding level in the FY 2020 CJS bill, and by working to enact a final bill by the start of the fiscal year.”
As the Census Bureau is making final preparations and begins rolling out massive operations this fall to get the count started, the national coalition of census experts and data consumers stressed the challenges ahead for a fair, complete and accurate count.
“…In eight months, the decennial census will be in full swing. By all accounts, the 2020 Census will be the largest, most difficult enumeration in our nation’s history. The U.S. population is increasingly diverse — geographically, culturally, and linguistically — with households becoming more complex, and a greater share of residents falling into “harder to reach” categories. Further complicating preparations and implementation, extreme natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and flooding) will require modified, more costly census methods to ensure an accurate enumeration in recovering communities. In addition, the focus on Internet response will be challenging for communities without reliable broadband service and households lacking internet access or familiarity,” their letter stated.
The Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations act, (H.R. 3055) allocates $8.45 billion for the Census Bureau, which includes $7.5 billion in dedicated funding for the 2020 Census. This funding recommendation reflects what stakeholders believe the Census Bureau needs to conduct a successful 2020 Census, enabling the agency to meet unique challenges facing the nation’s first “high-tech census.”
Stressing the critical timing of the House vote, the Census Project members emphasized, “…we urge you to support the robust funding level for the constitutionally required 2020 Census in the House Appropriations Committee bill. The Census Bureau has one chance to get the count right in all communities — there are no do-overs!”
Census Project co-director Howard Fienberg said, “All our membership understands there is no time left in the schedule for uncertainty. The House must act now.”
“Our coalition of census experts is gravely concerned about the risks to a successful 2020 count,” added Census Project co-director Mary Jo Hoeksema. “Insufficient, delayed, or uncertain full-year funding for the 2020 Census jeopardizes the agency’s ability to meet its constitutional mandate.”
The Census Project (https://thecensusproject.org) is a broad-based coalition of national, state, and local organizations that support an inclusive and accurate 2020 Census and American Community Survey (ACS) (the modern version of the census “long form”). Its member organizations, representing the private, public, non-profit, and academic sectors, rely on objective data that the Census Bureau produces to inform evidence-based investment, policy and planning decisions.