NEWS19 May 2020

More census funding needed to handle Covid-19 disruption, Congress told

Covid-19 News North America Public Sector

US – The US census taking place this year requires additional funding to address disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a group of various industry bodies and businesses.

Map of the US

The Census Project, comprised of 89 organisations including the Insights Association, the American Statistical Association and Nielsen, has written to the leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees to request contingency funding for the Census Bureau this year and a higher level of funding in 2021.

The groups said in the letter, dated 14th May: "As you consider fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations, we write to respectfully request your support for $1.681bn for the Census Bureau, with $1.392bn for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account and $288.4m for the Current Surveys and Programs account.

"Further, as Congress considers supplemental funding measures related to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we ask you to consider providing the Census Bureau with additional funding and the ability to tap contingency funds in FY 2021."

The call came as the Census Bureau restarted its field operations in some areas to complete the decennial survey on an extended schedule, after adjusting its operations due to the Covid-19 outbreak.  

The letter noted the additional costs of the adjustments, including personal protective equipment (PPE) for field staff and extra technology.

Howard Fienberg, co-director of the Census Project, said in a statement: "The virus is running the show, and the Census Bureau has needed to make significant adaptations to its long-planned design. That means local offices need to extend leases, workers will be needed longer than planned, and PPE equipment is essential to get public cooperation with follow up enumeration. Congress must give Census additional funds to pay for these remedies and so that the Bureau can keep rolling with the punches."