Articles

27Jun

Delay Reorganization of Federal Statistical Agencies Until After the 2020 Census

The White House's recent proposal to reorganize the federal government included a provision of intense interest to the marketing research and data analytics industry: the consolidation of the biggest federal statistical agencies. However, the Insights Association today urged the Trump Administration and Congress to delay any consolidation plans until after the 2020 Census.

Howard Fienberg, VP of Advocacy for the Insights Association, commented to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for a hearing on the reorganization plan today that "timing is essential, since we are in year eight of the decennial Census cycle, a Constitutionally-mandated schedule that we cannot risk undermining. Certainly, any reorganization could disrupt ongoing statistical programs, but the impact on the 2020 Census would be the most severe. It is the largest peacetime mobilization in the U.S. and takes a massive and coordinated effort to complete accurately and effectively."

According to the White House plan (page 60): "The U.S. Statistical System is composed of 13 principal statistical agencies across the Federal Government. Three of these agencies—the U.S. Census Bureau (Census), the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)—account for 53 percent of the System’s annual budget of $2.26 billion, and share unique synergies in their collection of economic and demographic data and analysis of key national indicators. Reorganizing these agencies under the Department of Commerce (DOC) would increase cost-effectiveness and improve data quality, while simultaneously reducing respondent burden on businesses and the public."

Of course, this is not the first time the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has considered such a proposal. For instance, the late Janet Norwood, former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), testified in 1996 about the feasibility of consolidating federal statistical agencies into a “Federal Statistical Service,” observing that the three agencies “are very different,” but each produce data “that are used across the entire government, and each of the agencies is in some way dependent on the other.” Norwood also highlighted a concern shared by the Insights Association, which is that reorganization should not become a replacement for budgeting. “Reductions in statistical agency budgets must be carefully weighed; the long lead time for efficient survey design and high quality conceptual research makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to turn statistical series on and off,” Norwood said.

"The Insights Association urges Congress and the White House to delay any potential reorganization involving the Census Bureau until after the decennial headcount is delivered," concluded Fienberg. "Insufficient funding for much of this decade, which led to the elimination of essential field testing (among other impacts), has endangered the accuracy and efficiency of the 2020 Census, and we cannot afford to distract the Census Bureau from this core Constitutional mission."

The Insights Association is the leading nonprofit trade association for the marketing research and data analytics industry.

IA letter to House Oversight Committee.

IA letter to Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

About the Author

Howard Fienberg

Howard Fienberg

Based in Washington, DC, Howard is the Insights Association's lobbyist for the marketing research and data analytics industry, focusing primarily on consumer privacy and data security, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), tort reform, and the funding and integrity of the decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS). Howard has more than two decades of public policy experience. Before the Insights Association, he worked in Congress as senior legislative staffer for then-Representatives Christopher Cox (CA-48) and Cliff Stearns (FL-06). He also served more than four years with a science policy think tank, working to improve the understanding of scientific and social research and methodology among journalists and policymakers. Howard is also co-director of The Census Project, a 900+ member coalition in support of a fair and accurate Census and ACS. He has also served previously on the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics and and the Association of Government Relations Professionals. Howard has an MA International Relations from the University of Essex in England and a BA Honors Political Studies from Trent University in Canada, and has obtained the Certified Association Executive (CAE), Professional Lobbying Certificate (PLC) and the Public Policy Certificate (PPC). When not running advocacy for the Insights Association, Howard enjoys hockey, NFL football, sci-fi and horror movies, playing with his dog, and spending time with family and friends.

Related

 Fighting for You: December 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Update

Fighting for You: December 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Update

As we begin a new year, let’s take a quick look back at the insights industry’s successes and chal...

Read More >
Congress Demands Transparency from the Census Bureau’s Ask U.S. Panel Project in Final FY23 Omnibus

Congress Demands Transparency from the Census Bureau’s Ask U.S. Panel Project in Final FY23 Omnibus

An omnibus Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) appropriations bill was introduced early on December 20, 2022, in...

Read More >
H.R. 7805 Would Prohibit Citizenship and Immigration Questions on Decennial Census

H.R. 7805 Would Prohibit Citizenship and Immigration Questions on Decennial Census

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced the Ensuring Full Participation in the Census Act of 20...

Read More >
Last Ditch Drive for FY23 Transparency on the Census Bureau Ask U.S. Panel

Last Ditch Drive for FY23 Transparency on the Census Bureau Ask U.S. Panel

As Congress nears completion of an omnibus bill to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2023 ...

Read More >
Fighting for You: September 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Update

Fighting for You: September 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Update

Temperatures may be cooling as the calendar turns to autumn, but legislative issues are heating up a...

Read More >
IA Again Asks Congress for More Census Bureau Resources in FY23

IA Again Asks Congress for More Census Bureau Resources in FY23

The Insights Association, in concert with Census Project coalition allies, is urging Congress to hel...

Read More >
Members only Article - Please login to view