After Congress came through with extra money in the latest continuing appropriations resolution last week, the White House requested a massive increase in Census Bureau funding for Fiscal Year 2019. That request still isn't enough.

On February 12, the President released his FY19 budget proposal, which included $3.8 billion for the Census Bureau. Of that amount, $3.55 billion is designated for Periodic Census and Programs (PCP), mostly for the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS).

The White House budget document reflects a lot of our ongoing arguments: "Supports a Fair, Modern, and Accurate 2020 Decennial Census. The Decennial Census is a constitutional requirement and DOC’s highest priority in 2019. The Budget provides $3.8 billion, an increase of more than $2.3 billion, for the U.S. Census Bureau. This additional funding prioritizes fundamental investments in information technology and field infrastructure, which would allow the Bureau to continue preparations to conduct a modern, efficient, and accurate 2020 Decennial Census. An accurate Decennial Census is imperative because of the important role this data plays in shaping the political landscape and informing the policy making process. Most importantly, the Decennial Census governs the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives allocated to the States. In addition, Census data is used by governmental entities at the State and local levels for defining the representative boundaries for congressional districts, State legislative districts, school districts, and voting precincts. Further, Census data informs the allocation of slightly more than $675 billion annually in Federal funds to local communities, supporting a wide range of Federal and non- Federal policies, such as homeland security, education, and infrastructure. The Budget’s substantial investment in the 2020 Decennial recognizes the importance of this program."

However, the amount is still short of what's needed. According to Census expert Terri-Ann Lowenthal's calculations (since full details are not yet available), this would provide about $3.2 billion for 2020 Census preparations, $262 million below what Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' revised cost estimate indicated was necessary for FY19. As the details firm up, we will share them.

The right amount of FY19 funding will be needed for:

  • Hiring local partnership staff
  • Opening all local census offices
  • "In Field" address canvassing covering about 30% of U.S. housing units nationwide (about 90,000 addresses)
  • Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA)
  • Starting the first phase of the 2020 communications campaign
  • Ad buys for the paid advertising campaign
  • Start recruiting temporary census workers for 2020
  • Analyze the results of the end-to-end field test (dress rehearsal) in Providence and finalize 2020 methods and operations
  • Finish the IT systems and data security protocals for data collection and processing