Chairwoman Maloney Demands Documents, Briefing on Impact of Census Bureau’s Refusal to Follow Court Order

Oct 1, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 1, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, requested the immediate production of documents related to the impact to the accuracy and completeness of the 2020 Census of the Trump Administration’s decision to defy a federal court ruling extending the Census count to October 31, 2020.


“The Trump Administration’s defiance of a federal court order reflects a shocking disrespect of the rule of law.  Regardless of who the President is, Census Bureau officials have an independent obligation to respect orders from federal courts and comply with congressional oversight,” wrote Chairwoman Maloney.


Newly released emails from the litigation show that on September 25, 2020, Deputy Director Ron Jarmin—the highest ranking career official at the Census Bureau—sent an email to Director Dillingham and Daniel Risko, the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce, presenting two options for the Bureau to move forward, including one that complied with the Court’s order and one that did not.  He wrote:  


One closes out field work on 10/5 to begin processing on 10/6 and allows us to meet the 12/31 deadline should that be reinstated on appeal.  The second, stays in the field longer to allow additional states to reach the 99% completion rate goal and for better completion rates in hard to count areas such as tribal lands.  This option would preclude the meeting the 12/31 date, but furthers the goal of a complete and accurate 2020 Census.


This past Monday, on September 28, 2020, at 3:52 p.m., Secretary Ross wrote to Census Bureau officials, including Deputy Director Jarmin, asking them to confirm that “your team’s opinion is that if we stay in the field beyond October 5, we would not be able to meet the statutory deadline of December 31.”


Deputy Director Jarmin replied, stating:  “Yes sir, we need to finish work on 10/5 if we are going to have enough time (and assuming all goes well) to finish the processing of the resident population, federally affiliated overseas, and if requested, unlawful aliens in ICE Detention Centers by 12/31.”


At 5 p.m. on Monday, the Census Bureau informed Congress that:  “The Secretary of Commerce has announced a target date of October 5, 2020 to conclude 2020 Census self-response and field data collection operations.”


At 5:12 p.m. on Monday—twelve minutes after the public announcement of the decision—Secretary Ross responded to the email chain:  “Based on the staff recommendation I am extending the field operation to October 5.”


The Court explained that the Census Bureau’s decision on August 3, 2020, to reverse its previous position to delay deadlines for counting as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and instead rush to complete the 2020 Census, would lead to “undercounting hard to count populations.”


Since the Census Bureau announced that it would rush the end of field operations, the Court and the Committee have received numerous whistleblower reports from Census Bureau employees across the country explaining that they have requested guidance from their chain of command on how to comply with the Court’s order.  Instead of directing them to comply, their chain of command reportedly directed them to finish their enumeration work before the October 5, 2020, “by whatever means necessary”—in defiance of the Court’s order and at the expense of the accuracy and completeness of the 2020 Census.


Chairwoman Maloney demanded additional information about the impact of the decision to refuse to comply with the federal court ruling extending the Census count to October 31, 2020 in a letter to Dr. Steven Dillingham, Director of the United States Census Bureau.


The Committee requested that by the close of business tomorrow, the Census Bureau schedule a briefing from Census Bureau officials and confirm whether the Census Bureau will voluntarily provide the transcribed interviews requested in letters sent September 22 and August 4. 


The Committee also requested the production—by Monday, October 5—of all documents referring or relating to the decision to end field operations by October 5 and the impact of that decision on the accuracy and completeness of the 2020 Census. 


Click here to read today’s letter.



116th Congress