Committee Obtains New Internal Documents Showing Census Data Errors More Extensive Than First Reported

Dec 2, 2020
Press Release
Maloney Warns of Subpoena to Commerce Secretary for Documents Being Withheld on “Anomalies” and Delays

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 2, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross demanding that he produce a full set of documents requested by the Committee last month after reports that career officials at the Census Bureau warned the Trump Administration that they will be unable to produce a complete and accurate 2020 Census count prior to late January and possibly into February 2021.


“Despite the Trump Administration’s obstruction, the Committee has now obtained several internal Census Bureau documents from another source that not only confirm these press reports, but indicate that unresolved errors may be more extensive than first reported,” Chairwoman Maloney wrote.  “I write to urge you to end your obstruction of the Committee’s inquiry on this critical issue and produce a full and unredacted set of the documents requested by the Committee.  If you refuse, the Committee will have no choice but to issue a subpoena.” 


On November 19, 2020, media reports indicated that a “growing number of snags in the massive data-processing operation that generates population totals” had delayed the Census Bureau’s completion of the census count “at least until Jan. 26, and perhaps to mid-February.” 


Chairwoman Maloney sent a letter to the Census Bureau seeking documents relating to these anomalies and resulting delays, as well as their impact on the accuracy of the Census count.


No documents were provided.  Instead, the Census Director and other top officials informed Committee staff that responsive documents were submitted to Secretary Ross’ General Counsel, but were not cleared for release due to “concerns about ongoing litigation.” 


“The Department’s insistence on withholding documents due to ‘ongoing litigation’ raises questions about whether the Administration is seeking to conceal information not only from Congress, but from the Judiciary,” wrote Chairwoman Maloney. 


The Supreme Court heard oral arguments just this week in a challenge to President Trump’s effort to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Census count.


In today’s letter, Chairwoman Maloney revealed that the Committee has now obtained three internal documents from another source that confirm reports that the Census Bureau will take several additional weeks to resolve data anomalies and indicate that these anomalies are more serious than first reported.


According to these internal documents, career officials have now identified at least 15 anomalies that impact more than a million Census records across all 50 states.


“By blocking the production of the full set of documents requested by the Committee last month, the Trump Administration is preventing Congress from verifying the scope of these anomalies, their impact on the accuracy of the Census, and the time professionals at the Census Bureau need to fix them,” Chairwoman Maloney wrote.  


The Committee’s letter directs Secretary Ross to produce a complete and unredacted set of the requested documents by December 9, 2020, or inform the Committee whether a subpoena is necessary to compel their production.


The Committee is holding a hearing tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. to examine these new documents and other risks to a complete and accurate 2020 Census count.


To read today’s letter to Secretary Ross, click here.


To read the new internal documents, click here:  Document #1, Document #2, Document #3.


To watch the hearing at 10 a.m. on Thursday, click here.



116th Congress