CONGRESS CONSIDERS $1 BILLION IN STIMULUS FUNDS FOR CENSUS
Plus: Mesenbourg Becomes Acting Census Director
The U.S. House of Representatives is considering $1 billion in
additional funds for the 2010 census as part of the $750 billion
economic stimulus package requested by President-elect Barack Obama.
The House Committee on Appropriations is circulating a draft of the
“American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” to promote “job
preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency
and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal
stabilization.” Title III of the draft bill allocates $1 billion for the
Census Bureau’s Periodic Censuses and Programs account, which covers
decennial census activities.
Draft report language accompanying the bill points to the increased
lifecycle cost and “significant risk” associated with the revised Field
Data Collection Automation (FDCA) contract, which has led to greater
“workforce, advertising, and operational needs.” While the bill does not
specify how the funds would be spent, the report suggests that the
funding should be used “to hire additional personnel, provide required
training, increase targeted media purchases, and improve management of
other operational and programmatic risks to ensure a successful
decennial.” $150 million would be used for “expanded communications and
outreach programs to minimize undercounting of minority groups,”
according to the committee.
Democratic appropriators said the proposed stimulus package includes “a
historic level of transparency, oversight, and accountability,” noting
that the President must create a special website to post expenditures,
announcements of contract and grant competitions and awards, and formula
grant allocations related to stimulus spending.
Republican legislators have raised concerns about the massive spending
bill. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), the senior Republican on the
appropriations panel, said in a press release that Republicans “have
serious concerns about its size, scope, and astronomical cost. This
legislation appears to blanket government programs in spending with
little thought toward real economic results, job creation, or respect
for the taxpayer.” House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) called
the Democrats’ proposed stimulus bill “disappointing.” The proposal, he
said in a written statement, “was developed with no Republican input and
appears to be grounded in the flawed notion that we can simply borrow
and spend our way back to prosperity. It calls for more than half a
trillion dollars in questionable new government spending on programs and
projects, while providing less tax relief for middle-class families and
small businesses than President-elect Obama has proposed.” Rep. Boehner
singled out several proposals in the Democratic bill, including $1
billion for the 2010 census, as having questionable “stimulus” effects.
The House Appropriations Committee might consider the stimulus bill as
early as next week. Congressional leaders have said they hope to
complete work on the package before the Presidents’ Day recess. Congress
must also complete work on most regular appropriations bills for Fiscal
Year 2009, which started October 1, 2008. Before adjourning for the
election last Fall, legislators passed a Continuing Resolution that
funds most government agencies, including the Census Bureau, through
111th Congress committees take shape: Congressional committees have
begun organizing for the 111th Congress. In the House, the
Appropriations Committee has completed its subcommittee assignments.
Full Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI) and Ranking Member Jerry Lewis
serve as ex-officio members on all subcommittees. The Senate
Appropriations Committee has not announced new subcommittee line-ups yet.
House Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Chair: Alan B. Mollohan, West Virginia
Patrick J. Kennedy, Rhode Island
Chaka Fattah, Pennsylvania
Adam Schiff, California
Michael Honda, California
C.A "Dutch" Ruppersberger, Maryland
Peter J. Visclosky, Indiana
José E. Serrano, New York
Ranking Member: Frank Wolf, Virginia
John Culberson, Texas
Robert Aderholt, Alabama
Jo Bonner, Alabama
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Census Bureau’s
authorizing committee, has a new chairman, Rep. Edolphus (“Ed”) Towns
(D-NY), and new Ranking Member, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). Chairman
Towns, who has served on the committee (and its predecessors) for 26
years, held a press conference this week to outline his priorities for
the 111th Congress. Referring to the 2010 census, the congressman said
(according to the written statement he released), “[M]inorities and
urban dwellers have traditionally been under-reported in census counts.
This time it will be one of my goals to ensure that all Americans are
counted!” The committee has not yet made subcommittee assignments.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which
has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau, will continue to be led by
Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). While
the committee has not yet organized its subcommittees for the 111th
Congress, it appears that Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE) will retain his
chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management,
Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security,
which oversees the Census Bureau. The Homeland Security committee will
be responsible for confirmation hearings for the Census Bureau director.
The President-elect has not announced a nominee for that position.
Acting Census Director named: Thomas Mesenbourg has been named Acting
Director of the U.S. Census Bureau following the resignation of Dr.
Steven Murdock on January 9. Mr. Mesenbourg was named the bureau’s
Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer (both career positions) in
May 2008, after serving as Associate Director for Economic Programs
since 2005, with responsibility for the Economic Census and the Census
of Governments and over 100 monthly, quarterly, and annual surveys. His
full career at the Census Bureau spans 36 years.
Dr. Murdock became Census Bureau director in December 2007, succeeding
President Bush’s first Census director, C. Louis Kincannon. It is
traditional for political appointees to submit their resignations at the
end of a President’s term of office.
Census News Briefs are prepared by Terri Ann Lowenthal, a consultant to
the nonpartisan Census Project, organized by the Communications
Consortium Media Center in Washington, DC. Please direct questions about
the information in this News Brief to Ms. Lowenthal at
TerriAnn2K(a)aol.com <mailto:TerriAnn2K@aol.com>. Please feel free to
circulate this document to other interested individuals and
organizations. Previous Census News Briefs are posted at