Congress must appropriate at least $6.7 billion in new full-year FY20 funding (and possibly more) for an accurate 2020 Census, in the next legislative vehicle: either the next Continuing Resolution or in a final FY20 CJS Appropriations law.
- White House: $5.3 billion requested for 2020 Census in FY20.
- House: $8.45 billion for the Census Bureau in FY20, including $7.5 billion just for the 2020 Census, passed May 22, 2019.
- Senate Appropriations Committee: $7.6 billion for the Census Bureau, including $6.7 billion for the 2020 Census, approved on September 26, 2019.
- Bipartisan Budget Act of 2020/2021: set aside $2.5 billion for the 2020 Census outside of the budget caps.
- Continuing Resolution (CR): running until Dec. 20, 2019, included $6.7 billion for 2020 Census (only for those thirty days).
- Carryover funding from FY19: A carry-over of $1.02 billion in unspent FY 2019 funds will supplement, since Congress directed several expanded initiatives in 2019 that the Census Bureau did not accomplish.
Full-year funding for the decennial census needed ASAP
- The Census Bureau cannot operate at the FY19 funding level until the FY20 appropriations are enacted, because of the constitutional and statutory deadlines inherent to the constitutionally mandated 2020 Census.
- The Census Bureau needs to ensure that it does not run out of money before the enumeration is complete.
- The timing of 2020 Census funding is critical at this stage. The Bureau can no longer make up for lost time.
- The Census Bureau must have the certainty of full funding for the decennial census now, so that it can commit sufficient resources for final preparations, major operations, and expanded activities targeting hard-to-count communities, without concern that its funding may fall short of need.
- The window of opportunity is closing fast to expand outreach and communications activities (as Congress directed), plan for a new mobile Questionnaire Assistance Center program (also directed by Congress), verify a complete address list (residences and group facilities), recruit a geographically and culturally diverse workforce, and lock-down and secure IT systems with sufficient load capacity.
2020 Census activities at risk in October-December
- Final address list verification and updating, including for new construction;
- Strengthening cyber-security and ensuring adequate load capacity for IT systems;
- Recruitment, screening, hiring, and training for census field staff;
- Completing ad buys and launching comprehensive national and targeted advertising;
- Location verification (frame update) and advance contact for enumeration of group living facilities (such as college dorms, nursing homes, military barracks, and prisons) and transitory locations (such as motels, RV parks, campgrounds, marinas, and carnivals);
- Real-time modification of plans to count communities recovering from natural disasters; and
- Final preparations and launch of peak counting operations in remote Alaska in January.
Why full funding matters
- The accuracy of the 2020 Census is threatened by several years of funding shortfalls, delayed IT and cybersecurity upgrades, and reduced field testing (particularly in hard-to-count rural areas, and with Spanish-speaking populations).
- We need to count some 334 million people here and overseas by April 1, 2020; this can’t be delayed or re-run.
- Accurate Census data underpin every statistically representative study in the U.S., including other government surveys. The trickle-down impact of an inaccurate 2020 Census would be severe -- and last the whole decade.
- Census data determines the geographic distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funding per year and the allocation of Congressional districts.
- Those at risk of an undercount include: rural, American Indian and Alaska native communities; immigrant households (legal and illegal); urban minority neighborhoods; young children; and communities hit hard by the opioid crisis.