The Biden Administration released a belated budget proposal for FY2022, including a 30 percent increase in funding for the Census Bureau.

Under the White House’s proposal, the Bureau would get $1.442 million in FY22, about $336 million more than the FY21 enacted level of funding. Among the important points:

  • Allowing the Bureau to spend appropriated monies across a 2-year period, giving them much greater flexibility to spend as necessary (and to adapt quickly to crises, like the agency did to COVID-19). The Census Bureau will still get funded every year, they’d just have more spending flexibility.
  • Providing $949.7 million for the 2020 Census (a $616.7 million drop from FY21), for the continued release of data products from the 2020 Census, results from its coverage measurement program, and findings from evaluations and assessments.
  • Allocating $151.6 million for the 2030 Census, to begin the formal planning of the next decennial headcount, which will include a “program of research and testing centered on developing a 2030 Census design, capitalizing on innovations such as the way that the address list is developed and maintained, the use of administrative records as a source of data for enumeration, and making field operations more efficient.”
  • Designating $10.3 million for administrative records research/integration, almost a $1 million increase. The whole agency is working to expand the use of administrative records to improve sample survey operations, data quality, and data products and reduce respondent burden by developing alternatives to survey data collection.
  • Providing $330.2 million for the American Community Survey (ACS), a minimal $2.5 million increase from FY21. This specific funding point is particularly concerning to IA, since we are eager for the Bureau to finally expand the ACS sample size, which would provide much more reliable and robust data for rural, remote regions and small population subgroups. (Upping the sample size by 1 million households would cost approximately only $45 million, according to Bureau officials).
  • Supplementing the Bureau’s efforts to break down silos between departments and products to work from a common sample frame (known as the Frames Initiative), and consolidating data management for a Big Data era. As explained by the Bureau, this would mean: (1) Integration of already-existing data to create full counts of persons, places, jobs, and businesses; (2) Advancing of federal government efforts to exhaust already existing administrative data before burdening survey respondents; (3) Increased ease and usability of federal statistical data while decreasing duplicative efforts; (4) Enhanced quality of federal statistical products about the nation’s people and economy; and (5) Facilitation of more precise analyses of the nation’s population, geography, and economy.”

The Insights Association joined a Census Project coalition letter on April 28 in support of $2 billion for the Bureau in FY22. While we are pleased that our entreaties led to a proposed increase in funding for the Census Bureau, we have been communicating with the Census Bureau, the White House and Congress, in hopes of moving FY22 appropriations further in our desired direction.