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

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08Dec

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 (FY23), the Insights Association is reminding Appropriations Committee leaders of the need for transparency on the Census Bureau's Ask U.S. Panel project.

IA explained in a letter on December 8, 2022 that the association remains "gravely concerned about the shaky rationale and lack of need for the Bureau's Ask U.S. Panel -- a plan to develop the Census Bureau's own probability-based research panel -- given numerous private sector insights companies and organizations already provide well-established high-quality online panels, including probability-based ones. The project is also anti-competitive, given these existing panels and the Bureau’s intent to fund an additional insights firm to build one that will be used to compete against the rest of the industry using intellectual property funded directly by federal taxpayers."

While IA "would prefer a prohibition on FY23 funds, the Senate draft’s report language would help bring transparency to a particularly murky project and contracting process that is already subject to investigation by the Commerce Department’s Inspector General."

The House committee report asked for some transparency, but IA urged adoption of report language from the Senate draft: “The Committee is concerned about the lack of transparency related to the Census Bureau’s plans for implementation of the Ask U.S. Panel Survey, particularly given the lack of congressional authorization and the expanding scope of the project since it was initially announced. The Bureau is directed to provide a report to the Committee, no later than 60 days following enactment of this act, on the Ask U.S. Panel Survey’s methodology, data collection processes, implementation, incurred and projected costs, and procurement strategy.

For further background, see IA's testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees from earlier in 2022, and our 1-page position paper.

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.

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