Beyond the Citizenship Question: Repairing the Damage and Preparing to Count ‘We the People’ in 2020
The Census Bureau is in the final year of preparations for the 2020 Decennial Census, with some field operations scheduled to begin in August. The hearing will examine the areas in which the Bureau is at risk of missing key milestones, as well as its efforts to conduct a complete count in “hard-to-count” communities.
The Bureau must take aggressive steps to repair the damage caused by the Trump Administration’s “contrived” campaign to impose the citizenship question.
For example, the Bureau should clearly indicate what steps it is taking to differentiate Census workers from immigration officials, including developing a script and communications plan to account for the heightened climate of fear caused by this Administration.
The Bureau should increase outreach to hard-to-count communities instead of sitting on $1 billion in appropriated funds.
The House’s FY2019 appropriations report directed the Bureau to “devote funding to expand targeted communications activities as well as to open local questionnaire assistance centers in hard-to-count communities.” Despite this directive, the Bureau has all but eliminated Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs) for the 2020 Census and has not obligated over $1.02 billion in unspent funds. The Bureau has not made clear whether or not it will conduct more outreach to hard-to-count communities with those funds.
The Bureau should improve processes for tracking and implementing security recommendations to safeguard data and avoid missing key deadlines. The Department of Homeland Security has made 42 recommendations to the Bureau to strengthen its 2020 cybersecurity efforts, 10 of which are mandatory and 32 of which are voluntary. The Bureau has yet to articulate a reliable method for tracking or implementing those recommendations.