WASHINGTON – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement in advance of the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the president’s FY2019 budget request for the U.S. Census Bureau:
“The Census Bureau is working against the clock and is already behind. Congress must make sure that the Commerce Department and the bureau have adequate funding now to bolster outreach and promotion activities, boost the number of partnership specialists hired, and have the proper footprint in the field. Cyber-security threats; fear of government authorities, which permeates some communities in every state and region; disengagement from civic life in communities hit by drug epidemics – these are just some of the external factors working against a successful 2020 Census.
“But some problems could have been avoided: lack of permanent, Senate-confirmed top staff at the Census Bureau; delayed and generally insufficient annual funding throughout the research, testing, and planning phases; and an 11th hour proposal to add an unnecessary and untested citizenship question to the 2020 Census form. Robust outreach and promotion activities are sound investments in a cost-efficient 2020 Census and can help keep in check the much higher cost of follow-up with reluctant, unresponsive households. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to ensure a successful count.”
The Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Center for Urban Research at The Graduate Center/CUNY’s Mapping Service have produced new charts showing the difference between number/location of local census offices for the 2020 Census as compared to the 2010 Census.
Stakeholders, including The Leadership Conference, believe that given the growing and significant operational challenges the 2020 Census faces, the projected lower self-response rate, as well as the reduced number of Regional Census Centers (6 in 2020 vs. 12 in 2010), the Census Bureau should increase its presence in the field. Without that investment, the Census Bureau will be unable to speak more directly to diverse perspectives and experiences, making a fair and accurate census far more difficult to achieve than in past decades.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.