With everything going on in Washington, you may have missed the recent news that the 2020 Census has been deemed a “high risk” federal program by the Government Accountability Office, which is concerned about the Census Bureau’s “ability to conduct a cost-effective enumeration” in 2020. Should you be concerned? Yes, absolutely. While 2020 seems far away, decisions being made this year by Congress and the Trump administration will determine whether the Census Bureau has the resources it needs to do the job well. And getting the census right is important to everyone.
Fair, proportionate voting representation in our democracy depends on valid census data. That’s why the census is required by the U.S. Constitution.
Federal agencies rely on census data to monitor discrimination and implement civil rights laws that protect voting rights, equal employment opportunity, and more.
Local leaders use census data to identify and address emerging needs for health care, education, housing, food and income security, rural access to broadband, and other services
The census is required by the U.S. Constitution, and Congress is responsible for making sure the job gets done right. There aren’t any do-overs.
The Census Bureau is currently operating at last year’s funding levels, under a temporary measure that expires on April 27. But the agency needs a steady “ramp up” in funding to finish planning and start preparations for the 2020 Census. This isn’t unfamiliar news to members of Congress; funding for the decennial census traditionally increases significantly as we get closer to the census year.