From: Census2000 <Census2000(a)ccmc.org>
House Committee Considers Legislation
Affecting Census Operations
The House Subcommittee on the Census has approved several bills
"designed to provide the additional tools needed to improve the 2000
census," according to Chairman Dan Miller (R-FL), who opposes the Census
Bureau's plan to use scientific sampling methods as a quality check of
the initial population tally. The full Committee on Government Reform
will vote on the bills at a "mark-up" on March 17. The committee
cancelled plans for a hearing that day featuring Commerce Secretary
William Daley and Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt.
Following is a brief description of the legislation considered by the
1. "Local Census Quality Check Act" (H.R. 472) H.R. 472 requires
the Census Bureau to implement a post census local review (PCLR) similar
to the 1990 program. The Bureau must give local governments 45 working
days to review housing unit counts and jurisdictional boundaries before
the census figures become final. (The 1990 program did not include a
review of preliminary population counts.) By November 1, 2000, the
Bureau must investigate all challenges to the preliminary counts and
notify local governments of the results. The bill was introduced on
February 2 by Rep. Dan Miller (R-FL), chairman of the Subcommittee on
The subcommittee held a hearing to review H.R. 472 on February
11. Several local officials and organizations, including the National
Association of Towns and Townships and the National Association of
Development Organizations, supported reinstatement of a post census
local review in 2000; however, they did not all endorse the specific
requirements of H.R. 472. Richmond Mayor Timothy Kaine, testifying on
behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), said that while he would
not decline an opportunity to review preliminary data, PCLR did not
address the mayors' concerns about the population undercount. He
reiterated USCM's support for a quality-check survey to correct
undercounts identified in the initial tally.
Following the hearing, the panel approved H.R. 472 by a 5 - 0
vote. The Democratic members did not participate in the 'mark-up.'
Invited to testify at a subsequent hearing on March 2, Census Bureau
Director Kenneth Prewitt told the subcommittee that the bill "would
mandate a program that Census professionals believe will not effectively
and efficiently contribute to the overall accuracy of the census."
2. "Decennial Census Improvement Act of 1999" (H.R. 683): Sponsored
by Rep. Carrie Meek (D-FL), H.R. 683 waives consideration of income
earned as a temporary census employee in determining eligibility for
federal benefits (or state and local benefits financed in part with
federal funds) or in determining the amount of a federal or military
pension. The bill's supporters hope it will result in the hiring of more
enumerators who live in the neighborhoods they will canvass. For the
1990 census, Congress enacted similar legislation affecting federal and
military retirees, and some agencies administratively agreed to
disregard census income earned by recipients of federal benefits. The
census subcommittee reviewed H.R. 683 at a March 2 hearing and approved
the measure with bipartisan support on March 4.
3. "2000 Census Mail Outreach Improvement Act" (H.R. 928): H.R. 928
requires the Census Bureau to send a replacement questionnaire either to
all households, or to households that don't respond to the first
mailing. After determining that 40 percent of the second forms mailed
back in last year's dress rehearsal were duplicates, the Census Bureau
decided not to include a replacement questionnaire in its revised Census
2000 plan. Dr. Prewitt said such a requirement would "significantly
delay data processing operations and potentially introduce significant
errors into the data" by delaying the start of follow-up visits to
unresponsive households by six weeks.
Rep. Miller introduced H.R. 928 on March 2 but did not hold a
hearing on it. The subcommittee approved the bill on March 11.
4. "2000 Census Language Barrier Removal Act" (H.R. 929): H.R. 929
requires the Census Bureau to print and make available questionnaires in
33 languages (other than English) specified in the bill and in Braille.
The Bureau's Census 2000 plan includes questionnaires in English,
Spanish, Chinese,Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog, and language guides in
the 27 other languages mentioned in the legislation. Employees at
questionnaire assistance centers in the hardest-to-count communities
would help non-English speaking people fill out the forms.
Also introduced by Rep. Miller on March 2, H.R. 929 was approved
by the census panel on March 11 without a hearing. Dr. Prewitt told the
subcommittee before the bill was introduced that this new requirement
would force the Bureau to renegotiate many of its major contracts,
modify data processing equipment, and revise written materials with the
benefit of testing. These changes, he said, could "put the census at
5. "2000 Census Community Participation Enhancement Act" (H.R.
1009): H.R. 1009 authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to develop a
matching grant program for 2000 census education, outreach and
promotion, and partnership activities. All local and tribal governments
(including the U.S. territories) and nonprofit public and private
organizations would be eligible to apply for a grant, provided the
applicant makes available 50 percent of the grant amount in nonfederal
funds. The Census Bureau's 12 regional offices would be responsible for
administering the grant program. The bill authorizes $26 million in
fiscal year 2000 for this program.
H.R. 1009, sponsored by Rep. Miller, was introduced on March 4.
The census subcommittee approved the bill on March 11 after rejecting an
amendment offered by the panel's senior Democrat, Rep. Carolyn Maloney
(D-NY), to shift responsibility for administering the grant program to a
private foundation and to increase the amount of money available for the
grants. Rep. Maloney noted that the $26 million funding ceiling would
give each of the nation's 39,000 local governments an average grant
under $700, even before taking into account applications from
community-based organizations. At a March 2 hearing, Dr. Prewitt said
the Bureau has no grant-making experience, but he encouraged private
foundations to make grants to local communities for outreach and
6. H.R. 1010 (no short title) authorizes $300 million in fiscal
year 2000 for census promotional, outreach and marketing activities. The
bill's sponsor, Rep. Miller, had originally suggested quadrupling the
advertising budget to $400 million. The Census Bureau's original plan
included $100 million for a paid advertising campaign and another $140
million for other marketing efforts. When he unveiled the revised census
plan last month to comply with the recent Supreme Court decision on the
use of sampling, Dr. Prewitt said the Bureau would expand the entire
marketing and promotion effort. The census subcommittee approved H.R.
1010 on March 11.
7. "Census in the Schools Promotion Act" (H.R. 1058): H.R. 1058
would expand the Census in the Schools program by requiring the Bureau
to send a full program packet to every school. Scholastic Inc.
developed the program, which the Census Bureau unveiled last week. The
Bureau had planned to target schools in the hardest-to-count communities
and make the materials available to all educators through the World Wide
Web. Dr. Prewitt told the census subcommittee at a March 2 hearing that
the Bureau had expanded the program's original scope to include every
school in the country, including those on American Indian reservations.
Rep. Miller introduced H.R. 1058 on March 10. The subcommittee has not
voted on the measure.
The Government Reform Committee will consider all of these bills at a
business meeting on March 17, at 10 a.m. in room 2154 Rayburn House
Questions about the information contained in this News Alert may be
directed to TerriAnn Lowenthal at 202/484-2270 or, by e-mail at
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