NEWS14 July 2009

Senate confirms Groves as US Census boss

Government North America

US— Robert Groves was confirmed as the new director of the US Census Bureau yesterday afternoon, just months before the 2010 population count gets under way.


Seventy-six senators voted in favour of the cloture motion which aimed to bring the debate on Groves’ nomination to a close quickly, after Republican senators had blocked an earlier vote on the appointment.

Twenty Republicans backed the motion, while 15 voted against it and five abstained. Certain sections of the party had expressed misgivings about Groves’ appointment as he has in the past advocated the use of sampling to adjust Census results for sections of the population which tend to be undercounted – and which also tend to be Democrat voters.

However, Groves has spoken publicly of the importance of an “objective, non-partisan” Census Bureau, and has said that no sampling or statistical adjustment will be used in the 2010 count.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid welcomed Groves’ confirmation. “In just a few months, as required by the Constitution, the men and women at the Census will undertake the tremendous and very important duty of counting our country’s population,” Reid said. “No one is more qualified to lead that effort than Dr Robert Groves… [He] has proven experience and his previous work as associate Census director under former President George H. W. Bush is an example of his ability to work in a fair and impartial manner.”

Groves was nominated as director of the Census Bureau in April by President Obama. He was previously 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 a statement Groves said: “I am honoured to accept this position. Extensive planning has put the 2010 Census on track to be the most accurate and technologically advanced in our nation’s history. But counting a dynamic population, like the US, needs the help of every resident. I’ll work to ensure our systems operate according to plan, and to make sure the public understands the vital importance of filling out and mailing back the census questionnaires in a timely fashion.”