Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 17:11:04 -0400
From: Keri Monihan <kmonihan(a)ccmc.org>
Following is the text from the most recent Census 2000 News
Alert, if you have any questions, please feel free to call
me at 202/326-8728.
President Set To Nominate Prewitt as Census Bureau Director
Move Comes as Appropriators Begin Consideration Of Census
Bureau Funding for FY '99
President Clinton is reportedly set to formally nominate Dr.
Kenneth Prewitt, president of the New York-based Social
Science Research Council, as head of the Census Bureau.
Prewitt is a highly-regarded social scientist who formerly
headed the National Opinion Research Center in Chicago and
was instrumental in founding the Consortium of Social
Science Associations (COSSA). It does not appear that he
has spoken publicly on any issues surrounding the 2000
The director's position has been vacant since Dr. Martha F.
Riche resigned in late January. Atlanta Regional Director
James Holmes has been serving as Acting Director of the
agency. In an article today in the Capitol Hill newspaper
Roll Call, Rep. Dan Miller, chairman of the House census
oversight panel, is quoted as saying that he feared Dr.
Prewitt "is simply being used by the Clinton White House as
yet another statistical shill for their beleaguered
statistical estimation scheme that has brought the 2000
Census to the brink of disaster." The announcement of Dr.
Prewitt's nomination is likely this week.
Budget Hearings. The House and Senate funding panels are
preparing to take initial action on the Census Bureau's
budget bills before Congress heads home for its July 4th
break at week's end. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
on Commerce, Justice and State, The Judiciary and Related
Agencies will "mark-up" the Fiscal Year 1999 (FY99) funding
measure for programs under its jurisdiction on Tuesday, June
23, at 10 a.m. in room S-146, The Capitol. The House's
counterpart subcommittee has set a tentative mark-up for
June 24 (time and location to be announced). Appropriations
panels rarely release details of their budget numbers before
Census commentary: Two nationally syndicated columnists
have weighed in on the controversy over the use of sampling
in the census in recent weeks. George Will's column
appeared in numerous newspapers, including The Washington
Post on June 14 under the headline "Would You Buy A Used
Census From This Prez?" In it, Mr. Will accused President
Clinton of disregarding the Constitution's requirement of
"actually locating actual people" and said that "[t]he
central problem is the political temptations in sampling."
He quotes David Murray, head of research for the Statistical
Assessment Service and a member of the new Census Monitoring
Board, as saying: "The ability to 'create' or 'eliminate'
millions of strategically placed citizens with the stroke of
a pen introduces a potent and disturbing new political
weapon." Dr. Murray is a former anthropology professor.
David Broder's column, entitled "Playing Hardball On The
Census," ran in The Washington Post on June 21. Mr. Broder
suggested that sampling opponents may have an easier time
prohibiting the Bureau from using statistical methods
because of provisions in this year's funding bill that the
President accepted. Mr. Broder called the hearing on the
lawsuit filed by Speaker Newt Gingrich "a near disaster" for
the Administration, noting that the two Republican-appointed
judges on the three-judge district court panel "riddled the
Justice Department attorney with skeptical questions." He
also quoted Thomas Hofeller, staff director of the House
census subcommittee, as saying: "Someone should remind Bill
Daley [the secretary of commerce and overseer of the Census
Bureau] that if he counts people the way he wants to, his
brother [Chicago Mayor Richard Daley] could find himself
trying to run a majority-minority city." Mr. Broder
predicted that the Administration might have to appeal an
adverse decision in the lower court on the constitutional
issue to the Supreme Court.
Stakeholder activities: The 2000 Census Advisory Committee
to the Secretary of Commerce held its quarterly meeting at
the Census Bureau's Suitland, MD, headquarters on June 11
and 12. The committee is drafting a final report to the
Secretary that will be delivered before the panel sunsets at
the end of the year. The Secretary has the authority to
reconstitute the panel and appoint new members.
Census Bureau staff discussed plans to distribute data from
the 2000 census through its new Data Access and
Dissemination System (DADS). The Bureau hopes to rely more
heavily on electronic distribution of information, thereby
reducing the amount of paper products available. However
several Advisory Committee members expressed concern that
the new system would limit access for many data users who
cannot afford to use the Internet on a regular basis.
Congressional staff representing Republican and Democratic
members of the House census oversight subcommittee also
spoke to the committee. Tom Hofeller, the panel's staff
director, disagreed with concerns expressed by some
committee members and outside observers that subcommittee
Chairman Dan Miller (R-FL) and his staff were engaging in
"[Census] Bureau bashing," saying that while they clearly
had a "policy disagreement," he had the "highest respect"
for the Bureau's employees. The American Legion's
representative on the panel said that any suggestions that
census numbers could be manipulated for political purposes
implied that Bureau staff would be involved or at least
condone such an action, a conclusion he believed was wrong
and unfair. The American Legion has not taken a position on
the use of sampling methods but is working with the Bureau
to help promote census participation.
Mr. Hofeller and his staff colleagues have visited both the
Sacramento, CA, and Columbia, SC, census dress rehearsal
sites. Mr. Hofeller described the visits as "very
illuminating" and noted several operational concerns
including a "cookie cutter approach" to paid advertising and
outreach, some failures to recruit enumerators indigenous to
each neighborhood (particularly when language barriers
exist), and the pace and accuracy of address list
development efforts. He also suggested that the Census
Bureau is not as eager to plan for a "non-sampling census,"
although Congress directed preparations for two kinds of
censuses in this year's funding bill.
Important housekeeping notes: Census 2000 Initiative
project consultant TerriAnn Lowenthal will have new
telephone and fax numbers, effective June 25. Please make a
note of the following numbers: (tel) 202/484-2270; (fax)
Also, please direct all requests to receive our News Alerts,
as well as any change of address, phone or fax, or e-mail
address, to Keri Monihan at the Communications Consortium
Media Center, at <kmonihan(a)ccmc.org>rg>, or 202/326-8728.
Questions about the information contained in this News Alert
may be directed to TerriAnn Lowenthal at (202) 434-8756 or,
by e-mail at <terriann2k(a)aol.com>om>. Please direct all
requests to receive News Alerts, and all changes in
address/phone/fax/e-mail, to Keri Monihan at
<kmonihan(a)ccmc.org> or 202/326-8728. Please feel free to
circulate this information to colleagues and other