NEWS21 October 2011

Research associations lobby for Census Bureau funding

Government North America

US— A collective of census users including the American Association for Public Opinion Research and the Marketing Research Association have written to senate leaders to plead for more funding for the Census Bureau.

The Census Project wants to ensure that senators do not vote for a 2012 budget lower than the $943.4m recommended by the Senate Appropriations Committee – yet at that level, they say, funding is still “not sufficient” to ensure the Census Bureau can sustain “its core programmes and surveys at their optimum capacity”.

At risk are certain elements of the 2012 Economic Census, including the Survey of Business Owners and the Business Expense Survey, and the American Community Survey. The Count Question Resolution Programme – a means for local governments to challenge official Census counts – might also be terminated, the Census Project says.

The Census Bureau’s 2011 budget was $1.15bn. President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget asks for that to be reduced to $1.025bn, and the Census Project says the Bureau has already taken step to reduce costs – drawing up plans to cut $15m–$18m annually through the closure of six regional offices and the termination of nine programmes that would save another $15m.

“We understand the fiscal environment requires Congress to make difficult decisions and curtail spending,” the organisations said in a letter to Senate majority leader Harry Reid and minority leader Mitch McConnell. “The Census Bureau clearly appreciates the dilemma facing Congress, having already proposed cuts in its FY 2012 budget and significant streamlining of operations through administrative actions.

“Additional cuts will be counterproductive to an agency whose data are essential to running our government, informing our policies, and influencing economic productivity.”