The League joined 168 national, state and local organizations in urging the President to nominate a highly qualified and widely respected professional to serve as the next Director of the U.S. Census Bureau.
May 31, 2017
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
A Fair and Accurate Census is Essential: The 2020 Census Must be Well-Funded with a Highly Qualified and Established Leader as Census Bureau Director
Dear President Trump:
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, and the 168 national, state, and local undersigned organizations, we write to urge your prompt nomination of a highly qualified and widely respected professional to serve as the next Director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Strong leadership at the Census Bureau is of paramount importance now, when the Bureau needs the stature and clout to advocate for the resources necessary to ensure a successful census.
An accurate and fair census, and the collection of useful, objective data about our nation’s people, housing, economy, and communities, is among the most important civil rights issues of our day. The resignation (effective June 30, 2017) of the current Census Director, John Thompson, will leave the premier U.S. statistical agency with a leadership vacuum less than three years before the start of the nation’s largest, most complex peacetime mobilization and less than one year before a critical “dress rehearsal” of the full census process. Failure to fill this vacancy quickly could delay final design decisions and impair preparations for the 2020 Census. The Census Director also must oversee the conduct of the 2017 Economic Census, the source of all baseline data for our economic indicators and national income accounts, as well as efforts to strengthen and streamline the American Community Survey (ACS), which updates the census throughout the decade.
The strength of our civic and economic institutions depends on the success of these activities and other irreplaceable surveys and data programs. Since 1787, the U.S. Constitution has required a census every ten years to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the States and to uphold the Constitution’s guarantee of equal representation. State and local governments rely on the census for their own allocation of political representation in accordance with constitutional principles. Census-derived data guide the prudent distribution of more than $600 billion annually in federal assistance to states, localities, and individuals in need. Businesses and entrepreneurs use census data to locate new facilities, understand the strengths and needs of the labor force, and target services and goods where customers need them, thereby spurring economic growth and job creation in communities across the country. Accordingly, the Census Bureau requires an established leader at the helm who will provide stability through the final years of this decade, explain the importance of its mission compellingly, address Congress’s fiscal concerns, and be ready for full immersion in the important tasks at hand.
The candidate for this position also must meet the qualifications set forth in the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011. That law, which established a five-year renewable term for the director, envisions a nonpartisan candidate with “demonstrated ability in managing large organizations and experience in the collection, analysis, and use of statistical data.” It is imperative that all members of Congress, state and local officials from both political parties, the Census Bureau’s professional staff, and — most importantly — the American people have full confidence in the objectivity, integrity, and capability of the next Census Director.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss qualified candidates with appropriate officials in your administration. Thank you for your attention to our concerns. If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact Corrine Yu, Leadership Conference Managing Policy Director at 202-466-5670.
See attached for full list of signing organziations