We need your help. We need you or your organization to help educate your Congressional leaders on the importance of funding the 2020 Census as well as related “periodic programs” such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Economic Census.
The U.S. Congress is back in session this week (November 28), and they are taking up the federal budget. The federal government is currently funded through December 9 through a continuing resolution (CR). Congress is expected to pass another extension through March rather than completing action through the end of the fiscal year. Census needs attention because we are at a critical planning stage for the 2020 Census. Not only is it important to count our citizens accurately, but adequate 2020 Census funding also has potentially critical impacts on other data programs that are funded from the same program account, including the ACS and Economic Census.
First, planning for the 2020 decennial census is in a precarious funding position. As the Census Bureau ramps up planning for 2020, the agency typically receives budget supplements to accomplish important preparatory tasks. While these tasks require funding, the CR process provides resource increases only if Congress approves a “spending anomaly” for Census, authorizing more funds. Congress did not do this in the first CR passed in September.
In the coming fiscal year, Congress is asking the Census Bureau to complete tasks that it would not typically have to undertake outside the 2020 Census planning cycle. For instance, the Bureau must test and submit topics for both the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey and begin testing alternative data collection methods designed to drive down overall costs for the 10-year cycle. Census is also testing new information technology systems and completing a dry run in 2018. Census is also seeking other ways to hold costs down, including using Internet responses – an option it could not use in 2010 due to lack of funding that ironically ultimately increased the cost of the Census. The irony is that insufficient funds now could lead to cost overruns later in the 2020 planning cycle.
The Census is funded from a program account that includes the American Community Survey and the Economic Census. Overruns in the 2020 census implementation could threaten these two critically important programs. ACS is the only source of granular information about demographics available annually by community that not only Congressional leaders use to understand their districts but that economic and workforce developers use to recruit companies and serve jobseekers. The Economic Census is the primary data source about business buying and selling activity that we use for econometric models explaining multiplier impacts and a key source for understanding clusters and supply chains.
We are asking you to reach out in 3 ways in the next two weeks:
- Contact your Congressional office to let them know how important this issue is to you or your organization’s efforts. It would be helpful if you could provide 1 or 2 examples of how these data help your organization create jobs and put people to work more efficiently.
- Share this call to action with your state or local network; ask your colleagues to reach out as well.
- Feel free to blind copy us on any appeals you make on Census’ behalf.
Support for the 2020 Census is vital, not only to ensuring we have an accurate and complete count of Americans but also to ensure that programs such as the American Community Survey and the Economic Census are protected.
Thank you in advance for your help! We will keep you up-dated on what Congress ultimately decides to do.