New Documents Reveal Census Shortcuts, Risking Inaccurate Count

Sep 24, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 24, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham seeking information about internal Census Bureau documents recently obtained by the Committee that raise serious concerns about actions the Trump Administration is taking to rush through the 2020 Census.

“The Committee has obtained new documents from a whistleblower that demonstrate that the Census Bureau is taking shortcuts in order to end field operations early and that the Census Bureau instructed its employees to advise administrators of homeless shelters that enumerators would be asking their populations questions about citizenship,” Chairwoman Maloney wrote. 

The first document is a handout that describes recent operational changes to “service based enumeration” (SBE), which is when the Census Bureau counts people who do not live in conventional housing or are experiencing homelessness. 

The handout instructs Census Bureau enumerators not to identify any more SBE locations or count any additional populations they observe while in the field because the “deadline for adding” them to the enumeration plan “has already passed.”

The handout also shows that the Census Bureau is now apparently directing enumerators without specialized confidentiality training to proceed immediately with counting domestic violence shelters, contrary to its own policy.

The second document is a script in which the Census Bureau directed employees to tell homeless shelter administrators that enumerators would be asking about the citizenship of their residents—a question that the Supreme Court banned from being asked on the current Census.

“These actions create the risk of the 2020 Census undercounting hard-to-count and vulnerable communities,” Chairwoman Maloney wrote.  “Neither the Census Bureau nor the Department of Commerce produced this information to the Committee.”

Chairwoman Maloney is requesting that the Census Bureau provide a briefing on these latest developments by September 29, 2020.

Click here to read the field script.

Click here to read the SBE operational changes handout.

Click here to read Chairwoman Maloney’s letter.


116th Congress