Census Reform for the 2020 Census
Since 1790, Americans have answered the call of our Constitution for the people of our nation to be counted in the Decennial Census. The Census Bureau collects vital economic and demographic data that our country, its leaders, our government, and our businesses rely upon every day to tell us how we are doing -- and every ten years to tell us who we are. It is truly a scientific agency responsible for a complex task often called “our largest peace time mobilization.”
The time to start worrying about the 2020 Census is now. Currently, the 2010 Census seems to be on a path to success, but if we are going to stop the repeated operational crises that have plagued each of the last four censuses, we need to change how we administer the census. We must ensure that the Census Bureau has the independence and transparency it needs to carry out its essential, constitutionally-mandated function, and ensure the Bureau is focused on the ten-year process of preparing for the Census despite the four-year cycles of Presidential administrations.
In March 2010, I introduced along with Reps. Charles Dent (R-PA), Ed Towns (D-NY), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), H.R. 4945, the Census Oversight, Efficiency and Management Reform Act. All living, former Census Directors have endorsed the legislation. Senators Tom Carper and Tom Coburn of the committee of jurisdiction, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, have introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
In March 2010, I introduced along with Reps. Charles Dent (R-PA), Ed Towns (D-NY), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), H.R. 4945, the Census Oversight, Efficiency and Management Reform Act. Sens. Carper and Coburn have introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
H.R. 4945, the Census Oversight, Efficiency and Management Reform Act would:
- Give the Director the independence to report directly to the Secretary without being required to report through any other official at the Commerce Department.
- Increase the independence of the Director by allowing the Director to submit his or her own opinion in testimony to Congress even if it differs from the administration.
- Make the Director of the Census Bureau a Presidential term appointment of five years, with the 10 year decennial cycle split into two, five-year phases - planning and operational, creating continuity across administrations.
- Give the Director authority over all personnel and activities in the exercise of all powers and duties of the Bureau.
- Give the Director the authority to establish advisory committees to provide advice with respect to any function of the Director.
- Require that the Census Director provide budget information to Congress, at the time the Director submits a budget request to the Commerce Secretary to be included in the President’s budget request, prior to the Commerce Department’s budget request submission to OMB, increasing transparency and oversight.
- Require the Director to submit to Congress a comprehensive annual report on the next decennial census, with a description of the Bureau’s performance standards and a risk-assessment of each significant decennial operation.
Full text of S. 3167(as passed 12/8/10)
03/25/10 - Group Letter of Endorsement