The Lead

Census experts make $2B ask for census data infrastructure improvements

By: - May 4, 2021 4:24 pm

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A group of census and data experts called on Congress on Tuesday to increase funding for the U.S. Census Bureau, saying the agency needs the money to pay for infrastructure improvements.

In a letter to the chairs and ranking members of House and Senate Appropriations committees, The Census Project, a national coalition of 55 organizations, including the advocacy group, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, asked Congressional leaders to allocate $2 billion in funding for the bureau in its fiscal 2022  appropriations.

That support, they said, was critical for an “inclusive and accurate” 2020 Census and American Community Survey. 

“The Census Bureau is at an important crossroads: still resolving the outcome of the 2020 Census, while simultaneously pursuing groundbreaking technical innovations and preparing for the 2030 Census,” they wrote. 

“In FY 2022, Congress has a unique opportunity to initiate multi-year funding for the Bureau, providing the agency with resources that it needs to not only sustain and strengthen its mission, but also to recover from years of postponed enhancements and pursue numerous necessary operational improvements,” the letter reads. 

The calls for modernization and infrastructure improvement come after a year of delays, shortened deadlines and data “anomalies,” slowed the 2020 census count. 

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The Census Project noted that in addition to using the increased funds to perform its constitutionally mandated duty of conducting the decennial census count, the funding would: 

  • Modernize the bureau’s data infrastructure,
  • Improve the American Community Survey,
  • Stabilize and increase funding for the Survey of Income and Program Participation,
  • Extend “pulse” surveys, 
  • And launch the economic census of 2022. 

The bureau, which conducts more than 100 surveys annually, provides national data on health, housing, economic and demographic characteristics on the nation’s 331 million residents. 

This data is used at the local, state and federal level to allocate school funding, social services, hospital locations and more. 

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“The Census Bureau is fundamental to a broad range of public policy goals,” Mary Jo Hoeksema, co-director of the Census Project said. “To meet these needs and adapt to changing times, innovations in collecting and measuring the economy, people and places require substantial new public investments.”

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.