STAKEHOLDERS URGE LAWMAKERS TO SUPPORT CENSUS BUDGET
PLUS: Brookings Sponsors Census Forum on Hill; Census Bureau Rejects
Change in Prisoner Count; and more.
A diverse group of organizations sent a letter last month to members of
the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees that fund the Census
Bureau, expressing support for the Presidents proposed Fiscal Year 2007
(FY07) budget for the 2010 census and American Community Survey.
Organized by The Census Project, stakeholders told lawmakers that the
Presidents request of $878 million for the bureau represents the
minimum needed to ensure effective preparations for the decennial count
and comprehensive data collection in the American Community Survey.
The letter highlighted the shift from planning to preparation activities
for the 2010 census, including finalizing questionnaire content;
preparing for the 2008 Census Dress Rehearsal in San Joaquin County,
California, and the Fayetteville, North Carolina, region; developing the
technological framework for data processing and field data collection;
and completing modernization of the digital mapping system (TIGER). The
American Community Survey (ACS), stakeholders wrote, is one of the most
prudent investments the government can make in sound planning and
program development and evaluation. Insufficient funding, they
cautioned, could force the Census Bureau to drop group quarters
coverage or reduce sample size, placing a complete transition from the
census long form in jeopardy.
The letter also mentioned the need to fund final preparations for the
2007 Economic Census and Census of Governments, and noted concerns about
the Administrations proposal to terminate the Survey of Income and
Program Participation before development of an alternative program.
Seventeen stakeholder organizations, representing local governments,
scientific disciplines, civil rights and ethnic community advocates, and
housing interests, signed the letter. A copy of the March 28 letter is
posted on the The Census Project web site at www.thecensusproject.org
For more detailed information on the Presidents FY07 budget request for
the Census Bureau, see the February 6 Census News Brief, also posted on
the web site.
Commerce Secretary defends Census Bureau budget before House funders:
Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez testified before the House
Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and Commerce on
April 5, in support of the departments $6.1 billion budget request for
FY07. The proposed budget, Gutierrez said in his written testimony,
reflects both the Administrations commitment to promote and sustain
economic growth and opportunity, and the need to restrain discretionary
The Secretary said each of the departments agencies supports one of
three strategic goals. The Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic
Analysis (BEA), both part of the Economics and Statistics Administration
(ESA), advance the goal of provid[ing] the information and tools to
maximize U.S. competitiveness and enable economic growth for American
industries, workers, and consumers. The Administration requested $80.5
million for ESA headquarters and BEA, which publishes key data on the
nations economy, including the Gross Domestic Product.
The Census Bureau, Gutierrez told appropriators, serves as the leading
source of quality data about the Nations people and economy. The
Secretary noted that the 2010 census comprises the largest component of
the bureaus $878 million proposed budget, a trend that will continue
through 2010 because of extensive planning, testing, and development
activities related to the short form.
The Secretary is tentatively scheduled to testify before the Senate
Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science early next
Brookings highlights importance of census to Congress: The Brookings
Institution, a Washington, DC-based think tank, hosted the first in a
series of briefings on Capitol Hill to educate congressional staff and
other stakeholders about the importance of an accurate census. The
briefing, called The Road to the 2010 Census: Implications for
Apportionment, Redistricting, and the Economy, was organized in
conjunction with the House Subcommittee on Federalism and the Census,
which oversees the Census Bureau.
U.S. Chief Statistician (Office of Management and Budget) Katherine
Wallman chaired a panel presentation on the nuts and bolts of the census
process and why an accurate census is important for congressional
apportionment, redrawing legislative districts, and decision-making in
the private sector. Preston Jay Waite, Associate Director for the
Decennial Census, reviewed the status of planning for Census 2010.
Content for the census and ACS must be finalized by January 2007.
Compared to the 2000 census, Mr. Waite said, the Local Update of Census
Addresses (LUCA) program will begin earlier and give more time for local
officials to review preliminary address lists; LUCA will be completed by
October 2008, so that census workers can begin block-by-block canvassing
to confirm addresses.
Joseph Salvo, Population Division Director in New York Citys Department
of City Planning, focused his remarks on what he called the sizable and
growing number of housing units in communities of all sizes for which
traditional mail-out/mail-back enumeration does not work well. Dr.
Salvo described multi-unit homes and apartment buildings without
separate apartment numbers for each unit, often in areas with sizable
immigrant populations. He suggested an alternative counting method,
called Update/Enumerate, in neighborhoods where this type of housing is
pervasive. In Update/Enumerate, a version of which the Census Bureau
has employed previously in areas with non-traditional housing such as
Indian reservations, census takers go from building to building with an
address list, correcting the list as necessary and enumerating each unit
as they go. Mr. Waite acknowledged the value of alternative approaches,
but cautioned that Update/Enumerate is far more expensive than
collecting information by mail and that the Census Bureau must
effectively identify and target neighborhoods where difficult address
situations are clustered in order for the method to work.
Cathy McCully, chief of the bureaus redistricting office, discussed the
five-phase program for meeting legal requirements (Public Law 94-171) to
provide states with detailed census tabulations used in redistricting.
Michael Carliner, Staff Vice President for Economics at the National
Association of Home Builders, described the important uses of ACS data
in the private sector, including analysis of investment and growth
opportunities, labor markets, consumer demographics, and housing needs.
John Cuaderes, staff director of the census subcommittee, told the
audience that it is Congress obligation to ensure an accurate census
in 2010. The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), is
reviewing federal funding formulas that rely in whole or in part on data
from the old census long form, to help authorizing committees develop
new legislative language that would tie funding to ACS data instead.
Mr. Cuaderes urged census stakeholders to work together in support of
adequate funding for the census and the ACS and to contact legislators
with influence over the budget process.
Census Bureau rejects change in prisoner count: The Census Bureau has
concluded that changing the way it counts prisoners in the census would
result in increased cost
[and] decreased accuracy for a possibly large
proportion of millions of individuals confined on Census day, according
to a report released in February. Such a change could also have a
negative impact on the count of other so-called Group Quarters, such as
college dorms and military barracks, the report said.
The report, Tabulating Prisoners at Their Permanent Home of Record
Address, was prepared at the request of Congress in the bureaus 2006
funding bill. Under current Census Bureau rules, inmates are counted at
the facility where they are incarcerated. The bureau estimates there
will be 2.6 million people (adults and juveniles) in federal, state, and
local correctional institutions in 2010. The Census Bureau would need
specific address information in order to include prisoners in
block-level census counts used for redistricting.
The Census Bureau considered two methods for enumerating prisoners at
their pre-incarceration address: compiling the necessary data through
administrative records or interviewing all inmates individually.
Administrative records from the Justice Department and local
correctional facilities are incomplete, inconsistent, and not updated,
the bureau found; some prisoner records do not contain complete
addresses or addresses that match the census Master Address File. The
Census Bureau determined that it would have to individually interview
all prisoners, which would require extensive coordination with
corrections officials and special procedures to ensure safety and
confidentiality. In addition, the bureau concluded, it would have to
verify all addresses that do not match its master address list and also
would have to interview residents of the address provided to confirm
that the prisoner is somehow related to that household. It would cost
$250 million to interview all prisoners, the bureau estimated.
According to the report, the Census Bureau enumerated about two million
prisoners in 2000 through a combination of special questionnaires used
in Group Quarters (called an Individual Census Report) and
administrative records. The bureau authorized and trained staff at many
correctional facilities to help administer the count.
The report noted that, There is no generally agreed-upon definition of
permanent home of record. In 1990 and 2000, members of the armed
forces and federal civilian employees stationed overseas during the
census were counted at their home of record for purposes of
congressional apportionment only, using administrative records from
federal agencies. Home of record in the military indicates where the
service member lived when he/she enlisted, often many years in the
past. Congress grappled for several years with the question of where to
count this population before the House of Representatives approved a
bill to include overseas military and federal personnel at their home of
record in the state population totals used for apportionment.
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), a member of the appropriations panel that
funds the Census Bureau, said in a press release that the report had
not evaluated all options fully. This Census report ignores a central
tenet of the Census Bureaus mission: to provide an accurate picture of
our nation, the congressman said. Counting prisoners at their
pre-incarceration address is important, he said, because their home
communities must help released prisoners reintegrate into society
[and] assess their funding priorities. Rep. Serrano criticized the
report for only examin[ing] one option for implementing this
alternative counting process and for not analyz[ing] several lower
cost possibilities. The congressman also said he believed that
implementing a fair and precise census is worth the cost.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, an
advocate of counting prisoners at their pre-incarceration address, also
criticized the bureaus report, saying the Census Bureau focuses
primarily on the most burdensome and expensive way to collect
information. The Centers executive director, Michael Waldman, said
the report shows either short shrift in a work product, or a shocking
lack of creativity and vision. The Centers Criminal Justice Program
submitted its own report to the bureau in February, Home in 2010: A
Report on the Feasibility of Enumerating People in Prison at their Home
Addresses in the Next Census. The document suggested several methods
for determining a home address for inmates, including administrative
records, distributing census forms to prisoners, conducting interviews
if necessary to ensure complete information, and counting people who do
not have a home address at the correctional facility.
The Census Bureaus report is available on the agencys web site at
The Brennan Centers report is available at
Significant Census 2010 contracts awarded: The Census Bureau has awarded
several major contracts covering field data collection and data
processing for the 2010 census. The agency awarded a five-year, $600
million contract to a team led by Harris Corporation, for development of
hand-held computers that census takers will use to collect information
from households requiring personal visits. Harris, which also is
responsible for updating the digital geographic mapping system (TIGER),
is teaming with Unisys, Accenture LLP, Sprint, Dell Computer Corp.,
Oracle, and other companies to supply the IT infrastructure, support
services, hardware and software for the Field Data Collection Automation
Project. Under a separate contract, Microsoft Corporation will provide
mobile-phone software for 500,000 handsets to be used by enumerators in
The Census Bureau has also started reaching out to advertising and
public relations companies in anticipation of developing its campaign to
promote the 2010 census. The bureau met with industry representatives
in February to discuss objectives for a census promotion and outreach
campaign and to better understand current industry practices. The
Census Bureau has not said when it will issue a Request for Proposal or
how much the contract would be worth. Advertising powerhouse Young &
Rubicam led the promotion team in 2000 under a contract worth about $100
Census advisory committee spring meetings: The Census Bureaus five
Race and Ethnic Advisory Committees will meet on April 26 28; the 2010
Census Advisory Committee will meet on May 11 12. The Census Advisory
Committee of Professional Associations is scheduled to meet on May 18
19. All meetings are open to the public.
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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