The Insights Association joined with 28 other groups in the Census Project coalition urging the prompt confirmation of Dr. Steven Dillingham to be director of the Census Bureau.
"Time is running out on the lame duck session and, more importantly, on preparations for the 2020 Census. The Bureau needs a leader in place, trusted by the White House and accountable to Congress, at this crucial juncture in the ramp up to America’s largest peacetime mobilization."
As explained in the December 14 letter to Senate leadership, "Census stakeholders acknowledge that decennial census data are central to American democracy, affecting not only apportionment and redistricting, but also the distribution of approximately $600 billion in federal funding across the nation every year, in addition to underpinning the decision-making of American businesses."
We also recognized the huge challenges awaiting the nominee: "As soon as he is confirmed, Dr. Dillingham will have to quickly learn from the results of the 2018 End-to-End Readiness Test (which, thanks to funding shortfalls over multiple years, was reduced to a small test in Providence, RI this spring) and oversee final design decisions and preparations for the 2020 Census. He also must strengthen and streamline the American Community Survey (ACS), formerly known as the “Long Form,” which updates census data throughout the decade. Delay is not an option."
Dr. Dillingham "appears to meet the requirements for the position set in the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-166), which requires that the Census Bureau Director have “demonstrated ability in managing large organizations and experience in the collection, analysis, and use of statistical data.” He most recently served as director of the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning for the U.S. Peace Corps. Previously, Dr. Dillingham led the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in prior GOP administrations. He has graduate degrees in law and public administration from the University of South Carolina and an undergraduate degree in political science from Winthrop University."
At his hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on October 3, he stated that he “will be dedicated to ensuring that the workforce is ready, willing, and able to accomplish the Bureau's mission as the leading provider of quality information on the nation's people and economy.” He testified that his top concerns once he is confirmed will be IT acquisition, hiring a full workforce, and implementing the suggestions made by GAO and the Inspector General. Dr. Dillingham also pledged “to support a federal statistical agency culture of principles and practices grounded in relevance to policy issues, credibility among data users, trust among data providers, and independence from improper influences.”
The letter concluded: "It is time for Dr. Dillingham to take the mantle at the Census Bureau and help grapple with unprecedented challenges to an accurate decennial headcount. We urge the Senate to confirm him as soon as possible."