Senator Lankford Chairs Hearing To Examine Census Bureau Preparation for 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – Standing in for Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI), Senator James Lankford (R-OK) led a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing today on the challenges facing the U.S. Census Bureau in an effort to modernize and be cost-effective.
“As the 2020 Decennial Census approaches, I appreciate the fact that the Census Bureau is actively taking steps to prepare, since, as we have seen in the past, a failure to do so can drastically increase costs for the federal government, and ultimately the taxpayers,” said Lankford. “It is laudable that the Bureau is working toward implementation of an innovation strategy, with a goal of saving the taxpayers money. Although progress has been made since 2010, more work is needed. It is my hope that the Census Bureau moves quickly to adopt reforms that safeguard the privacy of the American people, and makes the process more cost-effective and efficient. We cannot repeat the $3 billion waste in the innovations attempted in the 2010 Census.”
In January, Senator Lankford was named chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, which oversees the federal agencies. Its first hearing took place on March 19 to examine the federal regulatory process.
One of the most important functions of the U.S. Census Bureau is conducting the decennial census, which is mandated by the Constitution and provides vital data for the nation. For the 2020 Decennial Census, the Bureau is planning significant changes to the methods and technologies it uses to conduct the census. However, it has not previously used many of these methods at the scale being considered for 2020, which adds a large degree of risk. This hearing analyzed the ability and processes of the Bureau towards conducting a cost-effective and efficient nationwide census survey.
Notable Witness Comments From The Hearing:
The Honorable John H. Thompson, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau said, “Looking back, as we began this decade, the Census Bureau, with the guidance of Congress, established an important goal to design and conduct the 2020 Census in a manner that costs less per housing unit than the 2010 Census and to maintain quality. The Census Bureau then set out to identify the major cost drivers and to develop innovative enumeration methods aimed at reducing these costs. With Congress’ support, we focused our research and testing in these early years on major innovations oriented around technology and the strategic use of information to rein in those cost drivers.”
Robert Goldenkoff, Director of Strategic Issues at the U.S. Government Accountability Office said, “…the Bureau is pursuing initiatives to significantly reform its outdated and inefficient methods of conducting decennial census. However, with only 3-and-a-half years remaining until the Bureau plans to have all systems and processes for the 2020 census developed and ready for end-to-end system testing, the magnitude of the planned changes, the Bureau’s prior track record, and existing challenges, the 2020 census programs faces significant rick.”
Carol R. Cha, Director of IT Acquisition Management Issues at the U.S. Government Accountability Office said, “The cost of the decennial census has steadily increased during the past 40 years, in part because the nation’s population has steadily grown larger, more diverse, and increasingly difficult to enumerate. For example, at about $13 billion, the 2010 Census was the costliest U.S. census in history and was 56 percent more costly than the $8.1 billion 2000 Census (in constant 2010 dollars). If that growth continues, the 2020 Census could cost approximately $25 billion in 2020.”
For more information or to watch the video of the hearing, CLICK HERE.