Chairwoman Maloney Presses for Interviews of Key Employees on Administration’s Reversal on Census Extension
Washington, D.C. (Aug. 12, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham following his refusal to make officials available for transcribed interviews regarding the Trump Administration’s recent efforts to rush the 2020 Census after previously requesting legislation to delay deadlines for operations and reporting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is an urgent matter that requires immediate compliance,” Chairwoman Maloney wrote. “The Trump Administration announced these unprecedented actions—which are projected to have a direct impact on the completeness and accuracy of the census count—just weeks before the end of the Census. Our investigation is critical to ensuring that the 2020 Census adheres to the constitutional requirement to enumerate every person.”
In today’s letter, the Committee requested that Dillingham confirm by August 14 whether Census Bureau employees will be interviewed voluntarily or whether the Committee should secure their appearance through compulsory measures.
Dillingham testified previously that the coronavirus pandemic has added “unprecedented” operational difficulties to the Census Bureau’s mission.
In April, the Trump Administration requested that Congress pass legislation to delay the statutory deadlines for the delivery of apportionment and redistricting data.
On April 13, Dillingham and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross warned that extensions to statutory deadlines were necessary “to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the 2020 census.”
On May 26, Tim Olson, Associate Director for Field Operations, stated publicly: “We have passed the point where we could even meet the current legislative requirement of December 31. We can’t do that anymore.”
The Committee worked in good faith to accommodate the Trump Administration’s request. The Committee included extension provisions in the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), which the House of Representatives passed on May 15, 2020.
In a stark reversal, on August 3, 2020, the Administration announced that it would cut short follow-up operations by a full month and, with respect to the reporting requirement, that the Census Bureau would aim to meet “our statutory deadline of December 31, 2020, as required by law and directed by the Secretary of Commerce.”
These reversals were announced after President Trump installed two additional political appointees at the Census Bureau—for a total of six political appointees, which is more than the Census Bureau has had in decades.
“The Committee is seeking interviews with Census Bureau staff to understand these current—and ongoing—efforts to change timelines and methodologies midstream, and what impact these changes will have on the accuracy, objectivity, and completeness of the Census,” wrote Chairwoman Maloney. “The Committee is also seeking to understand how and when these changes were proposed, as well as what role career Census Bureau officials played in these moves, in order to inform our legislative efforts on these matters.”
Click here to read today’s letter to Director Dillingham.