APPROPRIATORS SPARE CENSUS BUREAU FROM DEEP CUTS
A House and Senate conference committee agreed last Thursday to give the
Census Bureau $812.237 million in Fiscal Year 2006, rejecting a much
lower funding level adopted by the U.S. Senate in September. The Census
Bureau received enough money to continue fielding the American Community
Survey (ACS) for a second year and to add group quarters to the survey
for the first time.
The 2006 Census Field Test, scheduled for next year in Travis County,
Texas, and on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation, South Dakota,
also is likely to proceed, although original plans could be scaled
back. Congress cut roughly $10 million from the amount requested for
2010 census redesign activities.
The conference version of H.R. 2862, the Fiscal Year 2006 Science,
State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act,
adopts the funding level approved by the House of Representatives in
June. That amount is still $65 million less than President Bush
requested for the fiscal year that started October 1, 2005. The House
Appropriations Committee originally cut $45 million from the President's
budget, $25 million of which was earmarked for expenses related to the
Census Bureau's new headquarters building in Suitland, MD. The full
House cut an additional $10 million from 2010 census planning activities
and $10 million from the Salaries and Expenses account to pay for
anti-drug programs in the Justice Department.
In the conference report (H.Rept. 109-272), appropriators instructed the
bureau to proceed with plans for the ACS and for updating the master
address list and digital mapping system (TIGER) as proposed in the
President's original budget. Within 60 days, the agency must submit a
financial operating plan outlining how it will spend it FY06 funds.
Lawmakers urged the Census Bureau to take steps to reduce the number of
personal visits in its surveys, noting the high cost associated with
field follow-up activities. With regard to ongoing research into ACS
methods, conferees told the bureau to streamline data collection as much
as possible and to ensure that survey questions are easy to understand.
Conferees commended the bureau for working with stakeholders to ensure
an accurate count of Hispanic subgroups and for considering ways to
include the population of Puerto Rico when reporting data on the United
States. The conference bill includes language, first adopted last year,
barring the Census Bureau from dropping the Some other race option
from the race question.
The Census Bureau must also submit a report to Congress within 90 days,
on the possibility of counting prisoners at their permanent homes of
record, instead of at their place of incarceration. Under current
census residence rules, inmates are counted at the prison or jail in
which they are held.
The bureau's Salaries and Expenses account, which funds ongoing economic
and demographic data collection activities, received about $198 million,
the amount approved by the House. Conferees highlighted their interest
in several trade reports and requested a one-time report on 2005
domestic sock production.
The House and Senate will vote separately on the conference bill, which
cannot be amended, before the current Continuing Funding Resolution
expires on November 18. The measure will then be sent to the President
for his signature (or veto).
In related news of interest to many census data users, appropriators
allocated roughly $76.3 million for the Commerce Department's Bureau of
Economic Analysis, $5 million less than the President requested. BEA, a
part of the Economics and Statistics Administration, publishes key
measures of the economy, including Gross Domestic Product.
Former Census directors weigh in: In a letter last week to conferees,
three former Census Bureau directors hailed the ACS as a cost-effective
innovation that provides detailed and timely information relevant to
effective government and a program that will benefit the country
disproportionately to the costs involved. Barbara Everitt Bryant
(1989-92), Martha Farnsworth Riche (1992-97), and Kenneth Prewitt
(1998-2000) also warned that inadequate field testing would put the 2010
census at risk. The directors urged Congress to reach a clear
understanding [with the Commerce Department] about what the nation needs
and can afford for the 2010 decennial census.
The directors letter was circulated to all House members by Federalism
and the Census Subcommittee Chairman Michael Turner (R-OH), Ranking
Minority Member Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), and member Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
(Formated table attached)
Census News Briefs are prepared by Terri Ann Lowenthal, an independent
consultant in Washington, DC, with support from The Annie E. Casey
Foundation and other organizations. Ms. Lowenthal is also a consultant
to The Census Project, sponsored by the Communications Consortium Media
Center. All views expressed in the News Briefs are solely those of the
author. Please direct questions about the information in this News
Brief to Ms. Lowenthal at 202/484-3067 or by e-mail at
TerriAnn2K(a)aol.com. Please feel free to circulate this document to
other interested individuals and organizations.
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