House Members Note Concerns with 2010 Census

For Immediate Release:

July 24, 2008

Contact:Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130

WASHINGTON, DC – Today 66 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez outlining their continued concerns regarding preparations for the 2010 Decennial Census and urging the Department of Commerce to take measures necessary to ensure a complete and accurate decennial census.

 

View PDF of Letter.

Text of Letter:

 

July 24, 2008



The Honorable Carlos M. Gutierrez

Secretary

U.S. Department of Commerce

14th & Constitution Ave N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20230

 

Dear Mr. Secretary:

 

     We are gravely concerned about the planning for the Decennial Census of 2010.  Serious mismanagement, contractual issues, and some unanticipated operational changes have added an estimated $3 billion to the life cycle costs and forced the Commerce Department to abandon its plans to utilize handheld computers for non-response follow up (NRFU) and to revert to paper-based data collection.  Although we appreciate your efforts to address the crisis surrounding the 2010 Decennial and we acknowledge that some progress has been made, we are troubled that significant issues still remain to be confronted.  Given the inherent time limitations, we encourage you to allow the Census Bureau professionals to focus on the most basic, practical approach to resolving ongoing problems.

 

     As you know, the Census is a constitutionally mandated obligation of incomparable significance to the preservation of our democracy, representative fairness, and the equitable distribution of an estimated $300 billion in federal funds (including vital programs like Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal-Aid Highway Program, Federal Transit Formula Grants, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, the Community Block Development Grant Program, Title I Education Grants, and Head Start).  Census data is crucial to understanding America’s communities and ultimately ensuring fair representation in government and an equitable allocation of resources.  Congress expects that the 2010 Decennial Census count every person living in the United States, any territory or possession of the United States, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and all federal civilian and military personnel serving abroad. The Department of Commerce should use all reasonable means to ensure we have a complete and accurate count of every resident.



     Your leadership in providing support and assistance for the Census Bureau is vital to the success of the 2010 Decennial. We expect that the additional funding provided in the fiscal year 2008 supplemental will allow the Census Bureau to improve its management of associated contracts. We expect to receive regular and timely progress reports, as well as updates on major decisions, including: the cost and scope of contracts with the Harris Corporation for Field Data Collection Automation, Address Canvassing, the Operating Control System, and the Regional Census Centers' infrastructure; fingerprinting plans; and any other major contracts and problems that arise.  And we expect you to permit the Census Bureau to focus on execution unfettered of political interference. 

 

     The 2010 Decennial Census is fast approaching and at this late date the Department cannot afford to implement new unproven strategies, including a sweepstakes or other incentives in the hopes of enticing more Americans to participate.  Not only are such ideas operationally unsound at this very late date, studies show that adoption of such unproven measures could undermine cooperation with the census and all other surveys across the entire government by raising expectations that Americans should be paid or rewarded to do their civic duty.  We need a 2010 Census that enjoys the confidence of the public and the Congress.

 

     Therefore, we expect the Department to focus on fundamental tasks of raising awareness of the census, achieving the most complete address list possible, getting the highest mail back response rate of the census form possible, training and employing a dedicated, enthusiastic, and diverse workforce to do the follow up work necessary to count everyone including contacting all households that do not return a census form, and providing a vigorous quality check on all census operations and the data obtained.  The Department must utilize robust, effective outreach and partnerships, including programs like the Census in the Schools, and appropriate national and targeted advertising to educate Americans about the importance of fulfilling their civic duty by filling out their census forms.  These steps will help ensure the accurate enumeration of historically hard-to-count populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, language minorities, immigrants and low income households, and help avoid a potentially catastrophic undercount.  

 

     While most Americans are not yet thinking about the next decennial, these next few months are critical to ensuring that we do not have a failed census. We expect that you share our concerns and goals regarding the 2010 Decennial Census and that you will do all that is in your power to ensure that this most fundamental civic obligation is equitably and successfully managed.  The decennial census is simply too important for failure to be an option and we look forward to working with you to guarantee an accurate 2010 Census. 



Sincerely,

 

                   

STENY H. HOYER   

JAMES E. CLYBURN

Majority Leader    

Majority Whip

 

 

HENRY A. WAXMAN

WM. LACY CLAY

Chairman, Committee On Oversight and Subcommittee on Government Reform 

Chairman, Information Policy,Census, and National Archives

 

 

CAROLYN B. MALONEY

CHARLES GONZALEZ

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

C.A. “DUTCH” RUPPERSBERGER 

CAROLYN KILPATRICK

Member of Congress

Chairman, Congressional Black Caucus 

 

 

JOE BACA

MIKE HONDA

Chairman, Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Chairman, Asian-Pacific American Caucus

     

 

JOSE E. SERRANO

BENNIE G. THOMPSON

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

RAUL M. GRIJALVA

JAMES P. MORAN

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

JOHN LEWIS

STEVEN R. ROTHMAN

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

ROBERT BRADY 

AL GREEN

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

STEVE COHEN

EMANUEL CLEAVER

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

JOHN TIERNEY

BARBARA LEE

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

HILDA SOLIS

MAZIE K. HIRONO

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

RUSH HOLT

KEITH ELLISON

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

SOLOMON ORTIZ

PAUL HODES

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

PAUL E. KANJORSKI   

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

LOUISE SLAUGHTER

JAN SCHAKOWSKY

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

BOBBY SCOTT

JESSE JACKSON

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ 

SAM FARR

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

BETTY MCCOLLUM

EARL BLUMENAUER

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

RUBEN HINOJOSA

EDWARD MARKEY

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

LYNN WOOLSEY

SANFORD BISHOP

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

NEIL ABERCROMBIE

MICHAEL CAPUANO

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

PATRICK KENNEDY

NORMAN DICKS

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

SANDER LEVIN

SILVESTRE REYES

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

ALBIO SIRES 

BOB ETHERIDGE

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

ZOE LOFGREN 

GEORGE MILLER

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

LOIS CAPPS

DAVID WU

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

CHARLES RANGEL 

XAVIER BECERRA

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

JOHN HALL 

LUCILLE ROYBAL-ALLARD

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

BOB FILNER

JIM COSTA

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

DORIS MATSUI

ELLEN TAUSCHER

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

DENNIS CARDOZA 

GERALD MCNERNEY

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

 

 

GRACE NAPOLITANO 

MIKE THOMPSON

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

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