The League joined the Census Project and other affiliates calling on Congress to support the funding levels for the Census Bureau appropriated in the FY 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill. The legislation allocates $8.45 billion for the Census Bureau including $7.5 billion in dedicated funding of the 2020 Census.
June 17, 2019
THE 2020 CENSUS IS HERE!
WILL YOUR DISTRICT BE COUNTED ACCURATELY?
Support the Census Bureau’s Funding Level in the FY 2020 CJS Appropriations Bill
As the House prepares to consider the Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, members and affiliates of The Census Project (www.thecensusproject.org) urge you to support the robust funding level for the constitutionally required 2020 Census in the House Appropriations Committee bill. The Census Bureau has one chance to get the count right in all communities — there are no do-overs!
H.R. 3055 allocates $8.45 billion for the Census Bureau, which includes $7.5 billion in dedicated funding for the 2020 Census. This funding recommendation reflects what stakeholders believe the Census Bureau needs to conduct a successful 2020 Census, enabling the agency to meet unique challenges facing the nation’s first “high-tech census.”
In eight months, the decennial census will be in full swing. By all accounts, the 2020 Census will be the largest, most difficult enumeration in our nation’s history. The U.S. population is increasingly diverse — geographically, culturally, and linguistically — with households becoming more complex, and a greater share of residents falling into “harder to reach” categories. Further complicating preparations and implementation, extreme natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and flooding) will require modified, more costly census methods to ensure an accurate enumeration in recovering communities. In addition, the focus on Internet response will be challenging for communities without reliable broadband service and households lacking internet access or familiarity. The Census Bureau must have the resources to make internet response available in more communities and to offer paper questionnaire and telephone response options to anyone who prefers those methods. It also must be able to hire enough census takers to collect information in person and on time from all households that don’t self-respond.
The bill and committee report include robust funding and language empowering the Bureau to invest in key activities — such as information technology, cybersecurity, and outreach to hard-to-count populations — necessary to conduct a successful 2020 Census. The appropriation includes a contingency fund that the Commerce Department previously said it needs to address unforeseen circumstances that threaten the completion of a successful census. Finally, the committee directs the Bureau to spend more of its available resources this year (FY 2019) on expanded targeted promotion, outreach to vital local partners, and scaling and securing vulnerable IT systems, instead of holding back on critical preparations in order to carry over funding to FY 2020. Money spent wisely now will help keep overall costs down by boosting the likelihood of cost-effective self-response and reducing the possibility of dangerous cyberattacks.
The nation’s largest peacetime mobilization and very first responsibility under our Constitution requires substantial resources. An underfunded census would jeopardize the availability and validity of data used to make essential economic, political, and planning decisions in the nation’s private, public, and non-profit sectors over the next decade. To this end, we urge the House of Representatives to ensure a 2020 Census that is equally successful in all communities by supporting the proposed Census Bureau funding level in the FY 2020 CJS bill, and by working to enact a final bill by the start of the fiscal year. Insufficient, delayed, or uncertain full-year funding for the 2020 Census could disrupt a smooth, expansive ramp-up to the start of counting operations in January, impeding the Census Bureau’s ability to meet its constitutional mandate to conduct the decennial census and to do so inclusively, accurately, and cost effectively.
Thank you for considering our views and for supporting the 2020 Census.
(See attached for full listing of groups)
The League joined national civil rights, voting rights, labor and criminal justice organizations in submitting comments to the Census Bureau asking that incarcerated persons be counted at their home address, rather than the prison facility they occupy on census day. The League believes that if the Census Bureau modified its residence rule with respect to incarcerated persons, all states and localities will have the opportunity to more accurately and equitably reflect the incarcerated population in their redistricting plans.