********** C E N S U S 2 0 0 0 B U L L E T I N **********
Vol. 3 - No. 5 March 17, 1999
The following is the text of a letter from Commerce Secretary William M.
Daley sent yesterday (March 16) to U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.,
the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform, and U.S. Rep. Henry
D-Calif., the ranking member of the same committee, regarding the
administration's position on seven bills related to Census 2000:
"Tomorrow, the Government Reform Committee is scheduled to mark up seven
bills related to the conduct of the Decennial Census in 2000. While I
we share a common goal of ensuring that Census 2000 is the most accurate
cost-effective Decennial possible, the Department of Commerce must
oppose legislation that would mandate a post census local review,
the printing of short census forms in 34 languages, and mandate a second
mailing of census forms.
"According to the Director of the Census Bureau, Kenneth Prewitt, and
professionals at the Census Bureau, these three bills would reduce the
accuracy and seriously disrupt the schedule of Census 2000. Based on the
attached detailed analysis of the legislation provided by Dr. Prewitt,
this legislation were presented to the President, I would recommend that
"The Census Bureau is already working on many of the issues that these
the other four bills address. For example, the Census Bureau is not
to manage a grant program, but it is working to increase partnerships
local governments and tribal and non-profit organizations to increase
participation in Census 2000. In addition, we expect to seek additional
funding for a variety of other activities. And we would appreciate
assistance in making it possible for more individuals to take temporary
census jobs without losing their government benefits.
"Thank you for this opportunity to present our views on the legislation
under consideration by your Committee. I look forward to continuing to
with you and other members of Congress to ensure that Census 2000 is the
most accurate census possible."
William M. Daley (signed)
Attachment (see attached file below)
For further information about Census 2000 Bulletins, contact J. Paul
of the Public Information Office on 301-457-3052 (fax: 301-457-3670;
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY
FROM: Kenneth Prewitt
Director, Bureau of the Census
SUBJECT: Census Bureau Position on Bills Concerning 2000 Census
As you are aware, seven bills concerning the 2000 census have recently
approved by the Subcommittee on the Census and are pending before the
Committee on Government Reform for consideration. At your request, this
memorandum presents the Census Bureau's analysis of those bills.
While I understand that these bills were introduced with a view to
the 2000 Census, their consequences for an orderly, timely and accurate
census in 2000 are just short of disastrous. The Bureau is at a stage
the process where several of the changes to the Operational Plan
Chairman Miller would seriously undermine the ability of the Bureau to
complete an accurate and timely census. Were these bills to become law,
Congress would either have to significantly delay the starting day of
2000 or require the Census Bureau to field an operational plan which in
judgement would decrease accuracy levels. The Census Bureau believes
the plan presented to the Administration and the Congress will achieve
most accurate results possible in the time frame available for planning
implementing Census 2000. Further, the Census Bureau does not believe
the Subcommittee bills will reduce the differential undercounts as
effectively as will the Operational Plan that we have presented.
The bill with the most serious potential consequences is H.R. 472, the
"Local Census Quality Check Act." It would mandate an operational
the Census 2000 Plan which is neither timely, effective, nor
and would return us to inadequate 1990 operations that have now been
substantially improved upon.
Since the Bureau recognizes the importance of local government
participation, we have established a program of local participation in
address accuracy and boundary readjustments which we believe is
the 1990 Post Census Local Review (PCLR) program. The Census 2000 Local
Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) vastly expands both the interaction
between local governmental units and the Bureau and the time local
governments are given to verify and correct addresses and boundaries.
date, twice as many local governments are participating in LUCA compared
PCLR in 1990. Notably, these governments cover 85 percent of all
in the country.
In addition, our plan includes a program to validate the boundaries for
every local and tribal government in the United States and a new
construction program that will resolve most of the address problems
uncovered in the 1990 PCLR. This new program which is currently being
reviewed by our outside advisory groups, will give local governments the
opportunity to add new housing units to the census Master Address File
Census Day, April 1, 2000.
We strongly believe that the Census Bureau's current plan is more
more effective, more timely, and will produce greater accuracy in the
frame mandated for us by law than would the proposal in H.R. 472.
The Bureau is also deeply concerned about H.R. 929, the "2000 Census
Language Barrier Removal Act." This bill would require the Secretary of
Commerce to print the Census 2000 short form in at least 33 languages
than English. The Census Bureau would have to send a questionnaire in
of these languages upon request. Were H.R. 929 to become law, the
census questionnaire workflow for receipt, image capture, transcription,
key-from-paper would have to be modified. We would have to renegotiate
largest contracts including nearly 20 printing contracts; the
for the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance program; Data Capture and,
Capture Service Centers.
An extensive amount of planning and evaluation has gone into developing
system for mailing a precensus letter to 120 million households and for
announcing the availability of questionnaires in six languages including
English, which account for 99 percent of all households in the U.S. The
wording on this pre-census letter has been carefully designed to
confusion and maximize cooperation. If H.R. 929 became law, we would
to figure out how to announce the availability of forms in another 27
languages, which may be of concern to approximately one million
without confusing the remaining 119 million households.
Let me emphasize that the Bureau welcomes interest in this most
area. Currently, we plan to be as linguistically friendly as we
We are not indifferent to the 1 percent of U.S. households, which speak
just another 27 languages but rather as many as 130 or more languages.
reach them, we have developed an integrated language program that
15,000 paid temporary staff positions in the Questionnaire Assistance
Centers, drawn from a wide range of language communities, and will
15 million assistance guides in several dozen languages. We have also
included a language focus in our partnership agreements with community
The third bill that concerns the Bureau is H.R. 928, the "2000 Census
Outreach Improvement Act." This bill would require the Secretary of
Commerce to conduct a second mailing by sending replacement
either to all households in the original mailing (a "blanket" mailing),
to each household not responding to the original mailing (a "targeted"
The Bureau has decided not to implement either a blanket or targeted
mailing. After thorough analysis, much deliberation, and an evaluation
our Dress Rehearsal experience, we concluded that the value of a second
mailing is substantially outweighed by the risks that it introduces in
census operations. We originally considered conducting a targeted
mailing, but printing vendors informed us they would require at least a
month to send a second mailing targeted only to nonresponding housing
A targeted second mailing would, thus, have significantly delayed the
of the nonresponse followup operation. Our experience and research
that the longer the delay between Census Day and the start of
followup, the more inaccuracies are introduced to the census data.
We also considered a blanket second mailing, that is, mailing a second
questionnaire to every housing unit, whether or not we had received a
response to the original mailing. A National Academy of Sciences panel
advised us that a blanket second mailing could reduce the accuracy of
census because of duplication. We nevertheless tested a blanket mailing
Dress Rehearsal. While it did increase the overall mail response rate,
evaluations indicate that about 40 percent of the households that mailed
back a second questionnaire had also mailed back the initial
Thus, the Dress Rehearsal processing had to be extended three weeks to
handle the complexity introduced by the large volume of duplicate forms.
For Census 2000, a work load of this magnitude would significantly delay
data processing operations and potentially introduce significant errors
the data. In addition, our dress rehearsal experience indicated that
public was confused by the second mailing.
The fourth bill that causes the Bureau concern is H.R. 1009, the "2000
Census Community Participation Enhancement Act." This bill would
for grants to units of general local government, tribal organizations,
public and private nonprofit organizations. The Census Bureau has a
commitment to fostering the productive involvement of local communities
Census 2000, and to this end, it has launched the Partnership Program,
Complete Count Committees, the Local Update of Census Address Program,
Census in the Schools Program, and more. And we welcome initiatives
would provide additional resources to units of general local government,
tribal organizations, and public or private nonprofit organizations that
could be directed to increasing participation rates in Census 2000.
However, the Census Bureau is not equipped to manage a competitive grant
program at this late stage in the decennial cycle. All of our human and
financial resources are properly focused on the sequence of activities
forth in our Operational Plan, as submitted to the Census Subcommittee
January 1999 and updated on February 23, 1999.
Based on nearly 20 years of experience in the private foundation sector,
speak with some knowledge about the complexities of managing competitive
grant programs, made even more complex if they have a matching
It takes expertise to design, manage, monitor, and assess such programs,
it would be imprudent for the Congress to presume that the Census Bureau
or could quickly acquire that expertise.
Moreover, there could be tens of thousands of applications. Either the
amount of funds available per awardee would be so low as to raise
about the sincerity of this effort, or there would be many more losers
winners. Either outcome places the Bureau in an untenable position. We
need strong partnerships even with those governments and local
that were not successful in the competition, but disappointment on their
part could easily undermine what has become a very healthy partnership.
Two additional bills have been introduced and voted through Subcommittee
full committee consideration: H.R. 1010 and H.R. 683. The Bureau does
have serious concerns about either of these two bills, so long as their
implementation in their final form does not impose major changes to the
existing operational plan. H.R. 1010 would authorize $300 million for
2000 to carry out promotional, outreach, and marketing activities in
connection with Census 2000. It would effectively triple the Census
Bureau's current projected paid advertising budget. We strongly agree
the advertising and promotion budgets will need to be increased.
we are reviewing our advertising and marketing efforts in order to
the most effective results.
In our operational plan for a census using traditional census-taking
methods, which we submitted to the Congress on January 14, 1999, we
that we plan to expand our Partnership Program and expand and enhance
paid advertising and promotion program. Both of these programs are
toward greater public awareness of Census 2000, which in turn should
greater public response and cooperation.
Specifically, we plan to expand the Partnership Program to increase
partnership staffing and assistance. This expansion will allow the
to form additional partnerships with both non-governmental organizations
that represent historically hard-to-enumerate groups and with
entities, including tribal governments, that have not yet taken the
opportunity to be included in the partnership program. Already, more
10,000 partnership agreements have been signed. The expanded program
includes "in-kind" funding to support partners by providing services,
as printing locally designed promotional materials for Census 2000.
Moreover, we plan to expand and enhance paid advertising and promotion
developing and implementing additional advertising messages. One
message, which we will use before Census Day, will target information
community benefits to areas with historically low participation in the
census. Another message will seek the public's cooperation with
during the nonresponse followup operation. This is increasingly
now that we must make follow-up visits to 45 million housing units,
of 30 million.
Nontraditional advertising methods also would be pursued. Fact sheets
promotional materials will be available on a larger scale with the
program. And finally, we plan to conduct special publicity events that
would bring the Census 2000 message to communities across the Nation.
you can see, H.R. 1010 has the potential to assist the Bureau in these
We also plan to expand the "Census in the Schools" program to allow all
schools to participate instead of only those in selected areas. We have
just learned that the committee intends to markup H.R. 1058 without
of a Subcommittee hearing. The Census Bureau has not had an opportunity
analyze H.R. 1058 but would ask that the committee help us ensure we
full funding necessary to meet the objective of 100% participation.
H.R. 683, the "Decennial Census Improvement Act of 1999," would allow
recipients of any Federally funded benefits, including welfare
veterans, American Indians, and others to take temporary census jobs
losing their Federal benefits. We appreciate any effort to help broaden
potential applicant pool for temporary census jobs. Hiring the numbers
workers we will need to conduct Census 2000 will be a monumental
and we will need all the help we can get. We have already secured from
Office of Personnel Management a waiver for the Federal civilian and
military retirees, similar to the 1990 waiver. We have also secured a
waiver from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for
of public housing and American Indian housing assistance. It is our
understanding that individual states and American Indian tribes would
the authority to determine how income from working for the Census Bureau
would be counted for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
consistent with the new welfare reform law. We are working closely with
states to bring welfare recipients into our workforce and, indeed, to
for other ways that would make it easier for people to come to work for
We have already hired some 3,500 welfare recipients to work on our
address-listing and Dress Rehearsal programs. This is the largest
welfare- to-work employees in any agency or department of the federal
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.