Commerce chief: Billions more dollars needed for 2020 CensusOctober 12, 2017 5:55pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration acknowledged on Thursday that billions more dollars are "urgently needed" to ensure a fair and accurate count during the 2020 Census.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told a House panel that new cost estimates show the 2020 Census will cost $15.6 billion, about 27 percent more than earlier projections.

Among the factors for the higher cost estimates, according to Ross, are tightening labor markets and overly optimistic projections from the Obama administration about the savings new technology would provide. He said Americans' growing privacy and security concerns also discourage people from participating. Those fears require the Census Bureau to do more follow-up work to count them.

The census, which is required by the Constitution, determines how many seats in Congress each state receives and how hundreds of billions of tax dollars are distributed.

"We are now just 30 months away from the 2020 Census. There are still many challenges ahead. These additional resources I have described are urgently needed," Ross told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In the end, Ross said that if the Congress provides the additional resources requested, "I'm confident we'll have a full, fair and accurate Census."

Some lawmakers aren't so optimistic. Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland said "we must recognize the gravity of the situation we are facing."

While Ross pinned some of the blame on the current state of preparedness on the Obama administration, Cummings said Congress deserves much of the blame. It has provided less funding than the agency requested every year since 2012. It failed to acknowledge two key drivers of cost increases, inflation and population growth, while overestimating how much money could be saved through new technology, he said.

"The problem is that when you starve the Census Bureau year after year, it cannot make the investments needed to implement these innovations," Cummings said.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said he was concerned that the focus on budget shortfalls would obscure the Census Bureau's inability to put into place dozens of information technology programs that the agency will use to conduct test runs for the 2020 count. He said only four of 43 programs have been completely developed and tested. The testing is important to make sure the Census goes smoothly in two years. Government auditors told lawmakers that the new systems have not been "effectively planned or managed."

"We're talking a whole lot about disaster relief in every other area. Today is the day we need to start talking about disaster relief for what will be a disaster if we don't get on this today," Meadows said.

The Government Accountability Office told lawmakers it was also concerned that key vacancies for director and deputy direct of the Census Bureau and a turnover in leadership -- despite having interim leaders in place -- have hampered preparedness for the 2020 Census. The GAO said filling those top two positions should be a high priority for the Trump administration and Congress.

The once-a-decade count has enormous political ramifications. Lawmakers and advocacy groups voiced concerns that the poor, immigrants, people living in rural areas and regions struck by natural disasters won't be fully counted in the Census, which skews where tax dollars go in the ensuing decade.

"Being hard-to-count can deprive people and their communities of equal political representation and their fair share of vital public and private resources," said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.


Follow Kevin Freking on Twitter at

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Top Democrat: WH won't ID employees who used private emailThe White House counsel's office is refusing to tell a committee on Capitol Hill which presidential aides used private email accounts for public business
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly pauses as he speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Trump jabs back at 'wacky' congresswoman as spat rolls on
Graphic shows Gallup poll of U.S. adults who say they lack health insurance; 2c x 3 inches; 96.3 mm x 76 mm;
Uninsured rate up to 12.3 percent amid "Obamacare" turmoil
Trump reprises campaign allegations about 2010 uranium dealPresident Donald Trump is pointing to an Obama era uranium deal as the "real Russia story" in contrast to a broader inquiry into Russian meddling during the 2016 election
FILE - In this Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006, file photo, college graduates socialize before their commencement at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich. Federal and state officials have launched the first national crackdown on companies that falsely promise debt relief for student loan borrowers. But critics say the Department of Education and its loan servicers expose consumers to fraud and fail to spot scams. (Leisa Thompson/The Ann Arbor News via AP, File)
Education agency blasted amid student loan scam crackdown
A sign warning looters will be shot is seen on the chimney of a home destroyed by wildfires on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in Glen Ellen, Calif. California fire officials have reported significant progress on containing wildfires that have ravaged parts of Northern California. The fires that swept through parts of seven counties starting Oct. 8 were the deadliest and most destructive series of blazes in California history.  (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bipartisan Senate bill aims to prevent Western wildfires

Related Searches

Related Searches