NEWS11 April 2012

Census Bureau director Groves to step down in August

North America People

US— Census Bureau director Robert Groves has resigned and plans to leave the organisation in August to take up the role of provost and executive vice president of Georgetown University.

Groves has steered the bureau since 2009, overseeing the 2010 population count. It is another eight years to go until the next census, but whoever replaces Groves will be under pressure to reduce costs.

Speaking to Research in November 2010, Groves said: “We in this country spend a lot of money on a census; our rate of inflation of cost exceeds that of most countries. Cost efficiencies must be the key watchword, I think, of planning for the next census, and that has to be done without diminution in the quality of the census.”

Groves was praised for completing the 2010 count $1.9bn under its original $15bn budget. To make further cost savings, he proposed that an option to complete the census online would need to be present in 2020.

He added: “We also believe that one source of cost efficiency gains would be consideration of administrative records in ways that haven’t been used before. So we are examining three issues: the data quality of administrative records, the legislative support for such use, and the reactions of the American public to that proposal. Would they view this as a wonderful gain in efficiency on the part of federal government or would they worry about threats to privacy in the use of those records?”

Read the full 2010 interview with Robert Groves here.

In a statement announcing his resignation this week, Groves said: “I am confident that the current and future leadership of the Census Bureau is devoted to cost-efficient excellence in providing the key economic and social statistical information the country so deeply needs.”

Prior to joining the bureau, Groves was director of the University of Michigan Survey Research Centre and research professor at the joint programme in survey methodology at the University of Maryland. He is also a former president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and a former chair of the survey research methods section of the American Statistical Association (ASA).

In the absence of an immediate replacement for Groves, deputy director Tom Mesenbourg will lead the Census Bureau.