Support the President’s Census Request for $970.4 Million

Media 04.16.12

Recipient: House Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Harold Rogers
Committee on Appropriations
H-307 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Norm Dicks
Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Dicks:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we write to urge you to support the $970.4 million requested by President Obama in funding for the U.S. Census Bureau in Fiscal Year 2013 (FY2013) and to reject any amendments that would reduce census funding. We believe this amount is the minimum necessary to preserve core statistical programs and ensure the continued reliability of data vital for public, private, and nonprofit sector decision-making now and in the future.

The Leadership Conference considers a fair and accurate census and comprehensive American Community Survey (ACS) among the most significant civil rights issues facing the country today. Census data ensure fair, proportionate voting representation for all Americans. Federal funding for key programs like education and health care is determined by census data. Further, census data assist federal agencies, like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in monitoring discrimination.

We believe the FY 2013 budget request of $252.7 million sufficiently invests in the ACS program to ensure that the sample size is large enough to produce reliable and useful data for less populated geographic areas, such as towns and rural counties, and especially less populous subgroups. This funding also would allow for improved telephone and field data collection; sufficient follow-up of unresponsive households in remote areas; and a comprehensive review of three-year and five-year ACS estimates. These activities are imperative for ensuring the ACS can continue to provide valid data about the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the American people on an ongoing, annual basis.

We also strongly support the president’s FY 2013 request for 2020 Census activities, which  is nearly double the FY2012 funding level, from $66.7 million in FY 2012 to $131.4 million in FY 2013. As the Government Accountability Office has consistently documented, reasonable investments in census planning in the early part of the decade will help save millions, and perhaps billions, of dollars in census costs down the road. The FY 2013 budget also supports the ability of the Census Bureau to design programs and operations for the 2020 Census that have residual benefits for other Census Bureau data collections. Finally, the president’s FY 2013 budget request may allow for the resumption of the critically important Partnership Program, which was an integral component of 2010 census outreach efforts, especially with respect to hard-to-count populations.

Support for the full amount of Census funding in the President’s 2013 budget is particularly crucial in light of past experiences with Census expenditure reductions in post-enumeration years. Unfortunately, Congress has often turned to the Census Bureau’s budget as a source of expendable funds after each decennial census, overlooking the important work the agency does year in and year out and starving the critical research and testing phases of the next enumeration. We understand the fiscal environment requires Congress to make difficult decisions and curtail current spending. Yet we believe that making cuts in the president’s FY 2013 budget request for the Census Bureau will be counterproductive to an agency whose data are essential to running our government, informing our policies, and influencing economic productivity. Supporting the full level of the president’s FY 2013 budget request is a wise and necessary investment in the effective governance of our nation and preservation of our democratic ideals.

We urge you to support full funding of the Census Bureau for FY2013 and to reject any amendments that would reduce census funding. If you need further information or have any questions regarding this issue, please contact Leadership Conference Census Task Force Co- Chairs Terry Ao Minnis, Asian American Justice Center, at 202-296-2300 x127, Max Sevillia, NALEO Educational Fund at 202-546-2536 x15, or Corrine Yu, Leadership Conference Managing Policy Director at 202-466-5670.


Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President