Census Stakeholders Call on Congress to Exempt 2020 Planning from Flat Line Funding in Continuing Resolution

For Release
Dec. 4, 2017 

WASHINGTON–Representatives of a coalition of hundreds of national, state and local business, civic and academic groups called on congressional appropriators not to delay fulfilling the Trump Administration’s request for additional funds for the Census Bureau for the 2020 decennial count, and to exempt the bureau from the flat-line requirements of any Continuing Resolution

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently testified before House and Senate committees to request an additional $187 million above the Administration’s previous request for FY 2018, which is to be finalized this month in one of the Continuing Resolutions under consideration. The Census Project coalition called on Congress to grant the Census Bureau a true “anomaly” from the general requirement that federal agencies are funded at prior-year levels, since the Census Bureau has an historic need to greatly ramp up spending in order to fund planning and preparations for the massive operations that comprise the 2020 Decennial.

“As the current continuing resolution (CR) deadline looms and the prospect of a new, potentially lengthy CR arises, we are writing to express support for providing the Census Bureau with a true funding anomaly. We believe such an anomaly should provide the Census Bureau with funds, including the Administration’s requested increase, to ensure the Bureau can support essential IT planning and development activities as well as fully implement the 2018 End-to-End Readiness Test in Providence, Rhode Island, in which all 2020 Census operations and technologies will be fully tested in a true census-like environment,” wrote the broad-based coalition of business, academic, state and local government, and civil rights organizations.

“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.

“Without an anomaly, Congress cannot effectively fulfill the Secretary’s request, even with a funding increase, and ensure the country can fulfill this Constitutional mandate. Having funds without the authority to spend them at needed higher rates means a failed Census,” Sparks said.

The full text of the letter and all co-signers can be found on the Census Project website.