Since 2020 Census field operations have been disrupted and significantly delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Insights Association joined a coalition letter with 147 other organizations in support of a $400 million infusion of funds to replenish the Census Bureau's contingency funds.
The Census Project letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leaders urged them "to allocate at least $400 million to help ensure a successful 2020 Census amidst significant challenges, which the U.S. House of Representatives included in its latest COVID relief bill.” The Senate intends to consider its next round of virus relief funding in late July.
That requested funding would be in addition to the Insights Association's request for at least $1.681 billion for the Census Bureau in FY21 (reiterated in another coalition letter on the same subject on May 14, 2020), including extra funding to offset the costs of the 2020 Census operations being stretched into FY21.
As recounted in this latest letter, the coronavirus "has exacerbated the challenge of conducting an inclusive, accurate, and efficient 2020 Census, forcing the Bureau to, among other things, adopt new procedures to protect field staff, temporarily suspend field operations and close local offices, and push the Nonresponse Follow-Up phase into the summer and fall. Because of these schedule adjustments, the Administration asked Congress for statutory relief to push back its delivery of apportionment counts to no later than April 30, 2021, and redistricting data to the states to before July 31, 2021—a decision that has deep operational and cost implications. Census stakeholders have already identified several needed enhancements, such as targeted advertising and outreach materials in additional languages and increased and expanded Census Questionnaire Assistance capacity, to address the severe disruption the COVID-19 crisis has caused for successful conduct of the 2020 Census."
The Census Bureau estimated that the 2020 Census will require about $1.5 billion to cover "the additional cost of adjustments to the 2020 Census operational timeline, as well as direct COVID-related costs (such as PPE for field staff, extra technology to support more enumerators, COVID-sensitive advertising, etc.)." While the Census Bureau plans "to cover these additional costs through its contingency fund," we're "concerned that the Census Bureau could deplete its contingency fund, especially if the Bureau implements important enhancements beyond those currently planned, leaving the Bureau unable to adequately address other emergencies that may jeopardize the 2020 Census, including natural disasters (such as hurricanes), IT failures, and, unfortunately, further waves of COVID-19."