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For Immediate Release:
Contact: Mario H. Lopez
(301) 457-5080

Blackwell Urges Census Bureau to Include Loca...

WASHINGTON – U.S. Census Monitoring Board Co-Chairman J. Kenneth Blackwell today urged Census Bureau Director Ken Prewitt to focus the "attention and resources" of the Bureau on the hardest-to-count areas in the nation and actively seek the input of local officials and community organizations to improve the results of the 2000 census over the 1990 count.

"Dr. Prewitt has said that, despite several years of planning and a budget increase in the billions [of dollars], his Bureau will not be able to count people as effectively as the 1990 Bureau," Blackwell said during a Monday meeting of the Census Monitoring Board to hear from officials on planning for the 2000 census. "He has further told Congress that any attempt to introduce improvements to the (Bureau’s) plan will put the census ‘at risk’."

"I do not agree … in fact, the Congressional Members [of the Monitoring Board] believe that the career professionals at the Bureau set a high standard in 1990, and they can do even better in 2000," said Blackwell. He urged the Bureau to start now by focusing attention and resources on the neighborhoods that the Bureau has already identified as the hardest-to-count in 2000. He noted that these neighborhoods are primarily low-income, minority, Spanish-speaking barrios, inner-city blocks and public housing projects. They represent just five percent of all the neighborhoods in the country.

"I know Dr. Prewitt and others will testify today that these neighborhoods will best be served by a statistical adjustment, but I want to stress that before the adjustment can help a neighborhood, the Bureau must count that neighborhood so they have some number to adjust," Blackwell said. The better the count before the adjustment, the better the count after the adjustment."

Blackwell was supported by William F. Hill, a reitred Census Bureaur Regional Director, who told the Board he was able to complete a more accurate count during the 1990 census by identifying hard-to-enumerate areas early in the process and developing a plan that properly utilized census employees, and local officials and resources. "Common-sense steps vastly improved the count," said Hill. "We found more people, we did it more efficiently, and we improved the quality of the data."

The Co-Chairman also urged the Bureau to consider a recommendation made by the Congressional Members of the Board in their February 1, 1999, report to Congress to restore the Post-Census Local Review which allowed local governments to correct mistakes in the past two censuses. Blackwell noted that the governors of 23 states; the Commerce Secretary’s Census 2000 Advisory Committee representing 50 government and community organizations such as the NAACP, the National Urban League and the Mexican American Defense Fund; and thousands of mayors, county commissioners and councils across the country have called on the Bureau to reinstate Post-Census Local Review.