May 2017 Update

The Trump Census Budget

This week the Trump administration released its FY 2018 budget proposal for the Census Bureau and the 2020 Census. Congress enacted a final FY 2017 budget, which President Donald Trump signed recently, cutting the Census Bureau’s overall request by $164 million for this fiscal year, to $1.47 billion.

This is in sharp contrast to the 10-year funding cycle for each of the past four decennial censuses (see chart below), which accounted for the ramp-up of costs in the seventh and eighth year of every census plan in order to finance a comprehensive field test called the End-To-End test. This is meant to test all of the new techniques employed in the 2020 Census before the actual national population count begins on April 1 of that year.

A Census at Risk - Spending During Four Census Decades

The FY 2018 Trump administration request for the Census Bureau is $1.524 billion, just $51 million more than the FY 2017 bureau budget. The Census Project stated that the Trump request for the next fiscal year is “woefully underfunding preparations for the next census at a critical phase in the planning process.”

The Census Project will be working hard to educate congressional policymakers about the need to override the president’s request and to significantly increase the Census Bureau’s funding.

Census Project Co-director Phil Sparks warned that “we may be facing an historic disaster unless Congress acts to save the census.”

Secretary of Commerce Ross to Testify on Census Budget This Thursday

The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies will hear testimony from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday, May 25, in Room H-309 of the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. This will be the first opportunity for Secretary Ross to explain the FY 2018 budget proposals of his administration as it relates to the agencies and bureaus under the supervision of the Commerce Department, including the Census Bureau.

The Census Project will monitor and report on the remarks of Secretary Ross in a future edition of its updates.