October 2019 Census Project Update


By a vote of 84-9 on October 31, 2019, the Senate approved H.R. 3055, a “minibus” package of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills, including the CJS Appropriations legislation and its $7.6 billion for the Census Bureau (of which $6.7 billion is designated for the 2020 Census). As census professionals are busy launching the early operations for the country’s “largest peace time mobilization,” the Census Project commended Senate passage of H.R. 3055 because full, certain and assured funding levels are vital to a successful national count.

Unfortunately, although the Senate finally moved the FY20 ball forward, the Census Bureau remains subject to a continuing resolution (CR), expiring on November 21, 2019, while we wait for the House and Senate to reconcile their differing funding levels. The CR included an anomaly granting the Census Bureau the authority to spend funding at a faster rate in order to keep Census 2020 operations on track, but it is not clear that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will allow the significant ramp-up in spending necessary for the final decennial rollout.

That is why the Census Project urgently appealed to Congressional leaders on October 24 to provide “the certainty of full funding for the decennial census now, so that it can commit sufficient resources for final preparations, major operations, and expanded activities targeting hard-to-count communities, without concern that its funding may fall short of need.” Absent the certainty of funding, the Bureau might have to curtail important decennial census activities, like outreach, advertising, cybersecurity measures, or staff hiring. Similarly, a bipartisan group of former Census Bureau directors wrote to Congress on October 22, urging “a full-year appropriation for the 2020 Census as soon as legislatively possible, to avoid disruptions in the launch and steady implementation of robust census operations.”

Census Project stakeholders agree that Congress must provide full-year FY20 funding for the decennial census as soon as possible, no matter the legislative vehicle, at least at the level of the Senate legislation.

2020 Census Briefs

The Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequality briefly explained the bottom line on why the 2020 Census matters so much: it is “about money, political power, and understanding the needs and characteristics of our population so that we can make smart decisions about how to solve social problems.”

Census Project co-director Mary Jo Hoeksema focused specifically on the importance of the 2020 Census to public health in a recent blog.

Mary Jo also explained the complex cyber problems facing the 2020 Census in a recent interview with Vice: “The Census is our nation’s largest peacetime operation. You don’t fool around with such a complex operation… Cybersecurity is a big issue and we’re all on pins and needles on how this is going to roll out.”

The Insights Association circulated a 1-page position paper: “FY20: Fund the 2020 Census Immediately.”

Census Bureau Updates

The Census Bureau has another meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations (NAC) coming up on November 7 and 8.

The Census Bureau announced the end of 2020 Census in-field address canvassing.

The Census Bureau published preliminary results from the 2019 Census Test, designed to allow the Census Bureau to better plan for the nonresponse follow-up operation and communications strategies for the 2020 Census, on October 31.

The Census Bureau launched the nationwide 2020 Census recruitment campaign by hosting a news conference at its National Processing Center Paper Data Capture Center – West in Phoenix on October 22.

On October 28, the Census Bureau kicked off its 2020 Census classroom activities to help students learn about the importance of getting their families counted in the decennial.

The Census Bureau released the remaining profiles and tables for the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates on October 17.

The Census Bureau released a statement on administrative data sharing agreements signed with federal, state and local governments.

News You Can Use

Below are several articles posted on The Census Project home page in October. For a complete listing, go to: https://thecensusproject.org/recent-media/.

Test shows little impact of citizenship on census form
Associated Press
October 31, 2019

Wisconsin Projected To Lose Tens Of Millions Because Of Undercounted Residents In 2020 Census
October 29, 2019

Census Bureau Confirms Noncitizens To Be Hired For 2020 After Uncertainty
October 25, 2019

Deferring funding for an accurate Census puts Alabama at risk
October 23, 2019

Census Bureau Struggles To Add Staff For 2020’s Census
October 22, 2019

Majority of Americans plan to participate in 2020 census, with some caveats
October 18, 2019

Census Starts In Alaska – Without Native Language Documents
October 16, 2019

No Crystal Ball Needed- A Sneak Preview Into What The 2020 census Will Reveal
October 14, 2019

As Census survey moves online, WV at risk of undercounting, losing federal funds
Charleston Gazette-Mail
October 7, 2019

Online Census Could Miss Many Native Americans on Tribal Lands
October 7, 2019

How One Data Map Is Supporting Census Work Nationwide
Government Technology
October 1, 2019