• The FY18 omnibus funding law provided $2.814 billion for the Census Bureau -- $1.344 billion more than FY17.
  • (2020 Census preparation used most or all of $1 billion in carryover funding from FY18 during the gov’t shutdown)
  • The White House FY19 budget proposed $3.8 billion for the Census Bureau, $3.55 billion of which would go to Periodic Census and Programs (PCP), mostly for the 2020 Census. It also reduced ACS funding by $10 million (from $221.4 million in the FY17 law to $211.4 million in the FY19 budget proposal).
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $3.821 billion in the CJS appropriations bill on June 14, 2018.
  • The House approved a comparable figure in their most recent votes in January 2019.

Decennial Census

  • Commerce Secretary Ross’ audit expects the 2020 Census to cost at least $15.6 billion over the decade.
  • The FY20 Census Bureau budget likely needs to be at least $8 billion, mostly to field the decennial headcount.
  • We need to count some 334 million people here and overseas by April 1, 2020; this can’t be delayed or re-run.
  • Due to funding shortfalls, the Bureau had to cancel 2017 tests of special counting procedures for tribal lands and rural/remote areas, in the Dakotas, WA and Puerto Rico. The same happened for the 2018 end-to-end readiness test, supposed to be of 700,000 varied and targeted households in WI, WA and WV, but reduced to only Providence, RI.

The American Community Survey (ACS)

  • Funding for the ACS (the rolling survey that replaced the old Census long form, sent to 3.5 million addresses every year) needs to allow maintenance of a valid sample size. The Bureau already had to eliminate the ACS’ 3-year estimates; if funding shortfalls sacrifice the 5-year estimates, the ACS can’t provide reliable data for nearly half of U.S. counties/towns.
  • The government shutdown stopped ACS data collection, which could hurt the quality/usefulness of data for both 2018 and 2019. Furthermore, analysis of 2018 ACS data was put on hold, which could delay release of these data in the fall.
  • Flawed ACS data in small rural communities (frequently among the hardest count) hurts those communities’ share of federal funding programs. ACS data drives the allocation of more than $600 billion a year a year in federal assistance.
  • The ACS is America’s only source for comparable (geographically), consistent (across time), timely (annual), and high-quality demographic/socio-economic data for all communities, down to the neighborhood and census tract levels.

Why full funding matters

  • The accuracy of the 2020 Census is threatened by several years of funding shortfalls, delayed IT and cybersecurity upgrades, and reduced field testing (particularly in hard-to-count rural areas, and with Spanish-speaking populations).
  • Adequate funding is needed for: more local/state Partnership staff for outreach to the hard-to-count (the Bureau plans to hire 1500, but they likely need at least 2000); hiring enumerators; setting up regional Area offices and questionnaire assistance centers; and an expanded advertising and promotion campaign (for more targeted and assuaging advertising).
  • Failure to fund programs now will likely result, soon enough, in massive emergency appropriations. Extra funding is needed to reduce the biggest 2020 Census cost: door-to-door non-response follow-up.

The Insights Association’s position: Fully fund the Census Bureau at least at the Senate Appropriations Committee level

  • Accurate Census data underpin every statistically representative survey and study in the U.S., including other government surveys. The trickle-down impact of an inaccurate 2020 Census would be severe -- and last the whole decade.
  • The FY19 White House request is $460 million below Secretary Ross’ revised cost estimate ($4.26 billion) and $933 million short of what the Census Project contends we need ($4.735 billion).
  • Unlike most federal programs, the ACS and decennial Census are Constitutionally-required (Article I, sec. 2, clause 3).
  • Those at risk of an undercount include: rural, American Indian and Alaska native communities; immigrant households (legal and illegal); urban minority neighborhoods; young children; and communities hit hard by the opioid crisis.
  • We oppose attempts to sacrifice the ACS and the Economic Census to fund the 2020 head count.
  • We oppose attempts to reduce 2020 funding, or otherwise impede an accurate and inclusive 2020 Census.