by Countable | 5.11.17
The head of the U.S. Census Bureau has resigned, according to widespread media reports. John H Thompson headed up the bureau since 2013.
This sudden change comes just as the Census Bureau is gearing up for the next big count of the United States' populous -- in 2020. And his resignation follows months of red flags from officials, concerned that the Census budget is not big enough.
Here's why this matters.
Statistics are second only to financial statements in their ability to cause most people’s eyes to glaze over and their ears turn off. There are some who would disagree, sure, but for most of us statistics are not sexy.
But here’s the thing. Governments cannot make accurate decisions about how to portion out financial resources or update systems of citizen representation without solid data. Businesses cannot estimate their potential impact in new markets without solid data. Data may not be king, but it is the power behind the throne.
The Census Bureau has conducted comprehensive surveys of the U.S. population every 10 years since the founding of the republic, as mandated by the Constitution. The information is used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and to define legislature districts, school district assignments and other important functional areas of government. The data is also used to provide adequate services for the elderly, build new roads and schools, locate job training centers, staff police and fire departments.
More than $400 billion in federal funds is distributed each year to states, local communities and tribal governments for neighborhood improvements, public health programs, education and transportation and more based off of Census data.
In the three years leading up to the Census, funding for it climbs steeply in anticipation of the massive data collection effort. Tens of thousands of staff are hired to collect data, new systems to streamline the collection process are tested, publicity explodes to aid participation. The 2010 Census was the largest ever, costing over $13 billion over ten years.
Congress instructed the Bureau to keep the cost of the 2020 count the same as the previous one in 2010. But critics maintain that is impossible. The Washington Post quoted an unidentified congressional staffer who argued:
“They’re not accounting for inflation; they’re not accounting for the 30 million more Americans, for the fact that people don’t have hard [telephone] lines anymore. And you’re going to do the census for the same amount of money? That’s not possible.”
The Bureau, however, did roll out plans for vastly expanding electronic data collection, which is expected to keep costs at approximately $12.5 billion over ten years, assuming testing and preparation are fully funded.
The Trump administration caused further concern with their 2017 budget, which proposed $1.5 billion for the Bureau. That’s $140 million less than the $1.64 billion requested by the department to continue preparations.
Now the Director of the Bureau has resigned. A new director must be appointed by the President. Will Congress encourage the administration to move quickly on that appointment? Will they approve enough money to keep the multi-year preparation effort moving forward as planned? The effects of the 2020 Census will be felt for years at every level of government.
Do you think the administration should prioritize replacing the Census Bureau Director and funding Census preparations? Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: U.S. Census Bureau via Flickr / Creative Commons )
Written by Countable
Here is what you do: gerrymander congressional districts in 2010; game the election to "win" with a 2.8 million vote deficit; install a conservative Supreme Court judge after stonewalling the previous majority president's nomination; fire the chief investigator of the minority president's campaign; defund the census bureau. At what point do we recognize this as a coup d'etat?
Don't be deceived! Underfunding the Census is a GOP trick to deprive Democrats of their legitimate representation by undercounting the population.
We need the Census Bureau and the information it provides to be timely and accurate, so that means we need an immediate replacement Chief and the appropriate funding to carry out the Census.
Damning with faint praise is something Corporate America understands, so, understand this: "President Trump is acting in accordance with his competence, in accordance with his law and Constitution," Putin said. If this is true, Congress MUST guard our citizenry from foolish and short sighted political expediency. This issue must rise above the "Peter Principal" to ensure our democracy's future.
The Census is central to understanding the needs of our country's citizens, the demographics, the trends, the challenges, and the areas of financial need. Without a speedy appointment of a new director, and without adequate funding, our government cannot adequately fulfill its constitutional responsibility to collect data about our population. It is very important that congress push President Trump to appoint a new director quickly, as well as advocate for adequate funding for the Census Bureau on the basis of realistic, modern needs and costs.
The funding for a lot of rural areas of America is based strictly on census data. There are 30 million more people in the United States. We cannot get the job done on less money then was obligated on the last census. This is a priority for us
Some of us chose to live rurally in this country. Whether we farm ranch, breed, practice hydroponics, develop renewable energy or retired out here, we didn't come out here to be forgotten and have our votes not count. Please get involved in the replacement of the Census Bureau Director so our rural areas will be well represented and money to our areas will be properly apportioned.
Please prioritize replacing and properly funding the Census Bureau Director position along with properly funding Census collection. It is way to important a process that cannot be ignored.
Accurate accounting of the citizens of the US is mandated by the constitution Not fulfilling that requirement hurts Americans, pld and young and results in incorrect distrubtions of funds Other than a special prosecutor to investigate Trump and his henchmen, this is the most important job for congresa
Honestly, what else would be expected from this administration? Accurate census data is critical in order to appropriately budget for the future of our country, but would this administration even give much attention to the statistics? We're talking about the people who are trying to strip healthcare from millions of people despite the all of the data that shows that it's a bad move. Even with a well-funded census bureau, it's not going to change government priorities at this point. That being said, we still must stand up to get our fair representation no matter what our government chooses to do with that information. We must fill the open position and properly fund our census bureau.
Reckless politics paired with stupidity and corruption smells like a dictator to me.
The census is very important for all of us. We need correct representation and correct numbers to assure we are treated fairly. The census should be non partisan and done with integrity.
An underfunded, leaderless Census Bureau is just one more way the rich and powerful (aka this Administration and their cronies) can manipulate the system and line their pockets. How many more good people are going to be fired, quit or get pushed out before someone stands up and puts an end to all of this? We need Republican lawmakers to stand up and put the American people first.
Defunding the Census is republicans' Machiavellian dismantling of our democracy in order to create false data to show Whites are still the majority and to allow them to gerrymander (the south) instead of actually winning elections. The North Carolina courts have ruled that their gerrymandering (stack and pack) was, and I quote, "surgical racism".
I believe that with the census comes the drawing of the congessional districts, at least some of them. That in and of itself is important since the cheating republicans redrew lots of districts to favor them, thus it is hard to vote those extremists in the party out of office, especially if they tow the party line for the outside interests that donate all that money for their campaign. So after the census the democrats need to get involved too so the cheating republicans don"t do it again. The democrats problem is they won't go to the lengths that republicans do to cheat, the same way they try to say there is voter fraud when it is virtually non existent and use that as an excuse to get laws passed making it harder to vote ,which effects minorities and some working people , by keeping turnout down they get an unfair advantage. The Democrats need to get down to their level for a while to put things right ,so we don't have a President and congress that looks like what we have now.
The census is a brilliant all-american institution that has catapulted our country's successful governance and economics to the top of the world. Among the many losses that our country has already faced in just the last hundred days, we cannot afford to lose yet another powerful tool that has scaffolded every strength that our country has to be proud of.
Too many dead Democrats still living on the voter rolls! DRAIN THE SWAMP
Major necessary as all govt decisions as to funding programs in different areas of the country depends on an accurate count. Also the amounts of representatives is directly determined by the census, which directly affects our representation in congress.
My Texas Republican Representatives: We are not a nation of fools. We see that this underfunding of the census bureau is just another back-room ploy to align our nation along the standards that profit you, the wealthy white. We may be slow in rising up against you, but it will inevitably happen unless you start listening to us and acting in our best interest and not your own. Protesting as we've not seen on this scale in our country is becoming a regular event. It will only get worse. Begin to regain your integrity by funding the census bureau as they need. As for the president appointing a new head for the bureau I don't think he's capable of appointing an honest person because he doesn't know what honesty and integrity look like
We need a replacement ASAP so our rural areas are accurately counted and we need the funds to be appropriate.