May 2016 Update

Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations: On May 17, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) approved its FY2017 spending bill, which includes funding for the Census Bureau. The bill allocates $1.47 billion for the bureau, roughly $100 million above current year funding, but $164 million below the Administration’s request of $1.634 billion (all numbers rounded).

All of the committee’s proposed increase over FY2016 would go to the Periodic Censuses and Programs account, which covers the decennial census, ACS, Economic Census, other cyclical programs, and support activities such as the new enterprise data collection and processing system. The recommended funding level of $1.2 billion for Periodic Censuses is $148 million below the budget request of $1.35 billion. The Administration had requested an increase of $182 million for 2020 Census planning alone; 2017 is also the final year of preparations for the quinquennial (every five years!) Economic Census.

The House bill also allocates $270 million for Current Surveys and Programs (CSP), equal to the FY2016 funding level and $15.3 million below the budget request (the same as in the Senate bill). CSP, the Bureau’s second main budget account, covers ongoing economic and demographic measurements, such as the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

The full Appropriations Committee will consider the bill (not yet numbered) on May 24th@ 10:30am EDT. The report that explains the committee’s intent and areas of interest and concern will be released after the full committee “mark-up.”

The Senate has not scheduled its CJS bill (S. 2837) for debate by the full chamber; the Appropriations Committee passed the bill on April 21 (see our April Update). The Senate could take up the measure in June. We thank the many organizations that signed the Census Project letter to all Senators, urging support for the Census Bureau’s funding level in the bill and opposition to any amendments to make ACS response voluntary. Because we are “holding” the letter until the Senate schedules consideration of the bill, we welcome additional co-signers.

Key House committee concerned about 2020 Census IT challenges: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), which has jurisdiction over Census Bureau activities, said that information technology (IT) challenges for the 2020 Census are reminiscent of those that “plagued the 2010 Decennial Census.” In a letter to Census Director John Thompson, committee and subcommittee leaders from both sides of the aisle noted an oversight hearing last November on the status of census planning, with a particular focus on significant technological components of the 2020 Census plan. Lawmakers expressed continued concern about the Bureau’s ability to meet milestones for IT development and test new systems fully before 2020, and its failure to hire a Chief Information Officer.

New report on the undercount of children in the census: The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund and Child Trends Hispanic Institute released a new report on the high undercount of Latino children in the decennial census. The Invisible Children: How Latino Children Are Left Out of Our Nation’s Census Count,” examines why the census misses a disproportionate number of young children (ages 0-4) and what can be done to ensure a more accurate count in 2020 and beyond.

Census Bureau news:

  • Staff musical chairs: Several recent changes in senior staff assignments at the Census Bureau will be of interest to census and ACS stakeholders. Deborah Stempowski, who led the American Community Survey Office for the past year, is the new chief of the Decennial Census Management Division. She succeedsDeirdre Bishop, who was appointed chief of the Geography Division, which manages all address and spatial data and related activities. Outgoing Geography Division chief Tim Trainor assumed the new role of Chief Geospatial Scientist. Tori Velkoff will serve as Acting Chief of the ACS Office until the Bureau fills the position. Finally, David Waddington, currently the Respondent Advocate, will temporarily serve as Acting Chief of the Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division (the position Ms. Velkoff held), while public affairs specialist Thomas Edwards will be Acting Respondent Advocate.
  • Census residence rules: As we reported in the March Update, the Census Bureau is reviewing comments it received on the 2010 Census Residence Rules, to inform any changes to the rules for 2020. The rules guide where people are counted on Census Day. The Bureau could announce proposed 2020 Census Residence Rules in June; another public comment period will follow before the Bureau finalizes the policy.