Board Receives Feedback From Local Governments
The Congressional Members of the Board have aggressively pursued information from federal entities already engaged in oversight and local governments participating in the Census 2000 dress rehearsals and the pre-census address list review program, LUCA.
Beginning on June 3, the Board met on six occasions in 1998. Two of those meetings were held in Washington, DC. Two were held at Census Bureau headquarters in Suitland, Maryland. The Board also met at dress rehearsal sites in California and South Carolina, hearing testimony from Bureau employees, local officials and community leaders. In addition, Congressional Board staff twice visited the Menominee Reservation dress rehearsal site, the second time in the company of Presidential Board Member Lorraine Green and staff.
Congressional Board Members and staff (along with Presidential Board staff) met with Bureau senior staff on eight occasions for general briefings on various aspects of decennial census research, planning and operations. Briefings generally lasted two hours. Topics included Administrative Records, contracts with outside vendors, the Integrated Coverage Measurement (ICM), the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA), and paid advertising. Additional briefings were conducted by the Department of Commerce’s Inspector General and staff and the General Accounting Office staff, covering many of the same topics.
After hearing testimony from community leaders and local officials frustrated with the dress rehearsal experience in South Carolina, the Congressional Board Members intensified efforts to build dialogue with those who will rely on the census results for federal (and, often, state) funding through the first decade of the next millennium. Letters and local government conferences afforded opportunities for dialogue.
Over 6,000 letters were sent to mayors, governors, state legislators, county officials, township trustees, city and regional directors and other stakeholders across the country in the latter half of 1998. The Congressional Members of the Board inquired specifically as to the nature and extent of local involvement with the Bureau to date, the ability and success of local governments to update the Bureau’s address file, and what concerns, if any, local governments had about the Bureau’s decision to eliminate the local review of census numbers.
Similar questions were asked at a dozen conferences of cities, towns and local officials in 1998. Conferences included meetings of the National Association of Towns and Townships, the Texas and California Municipal Leagues, and the National League of Cities and the Council of State Governments. Congressional Board Members addressed meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council in August, and the National League of Cities and the National Council of State Legislators in December. The congressional Executive Director and staff participated in roundtable discussions at the September meeting of the National Association of Towns and Townships.
Feedback from these efforts falls broadly into two categories. Post Census Local Review should be reinstated, and LUCA is a positive improvement, but it is not enough. A final quality-control mechanism is essential to make certain that recommendations and changes suggested by local governments during LUCA are incorporated into the census.
Examples of comments concerning Post-Census Local Review are listed in Chapter Six. Examples of comments concerning LUCA end this report.
CONCERNS WITH LUCA
The Bureau’s timetable requires manpower and/or financial resources which many smaller municipalities do not have.
Cities and counties with sophisticated GIS systems are penalized because they have outpaced the Bureau’s technological capabilities.
Personnel changes, program changes and lack of information on the part of the Bureau have frustrated many municipalities and counties who are participating in LUCA.
“Our initial experience with the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program has not been promising. We are finding that the maps furnished to us by the Census Bureau are not consistent with our locally drawn maps in relationship to the placement of existing streets and the incorporation of data that was previously furnished to the bureau . … I would say that the City of Atlanta strongly supports a post-census review program that is fair and gives local governments adequate opportunities to correct mistakes.”
John W. Heath, Atlanta Census Coordinator
“I am very frustrated over the procedures our County has to follow in updating our local addresses for the 2000 Census. Specifically, we are required to manually update all the census maps and then make the appropriate changes on the computer data base file. A few years ago, this would have been an appropriate approach for this task, but our County now has a complete, up-to-date, and accurate GIS program.
Fran Sutton-Berardi, Senior Planner, Stanislaus County, California
“We appreciate the opportunity to review and update the Bureau’s master address list and maps to ensure that the enumeration is as comprehensive and accurate as possible. However, we feel that it is equally important that local jurisdictions be allowed to review and, if necessary, challenge the results of the enumeration before the counts are made final.”
Frank C. Roberts, Mayor, City of Lancaster, California
“If this LUCA process is our only means of input to ensure an accurate count, then it is an inadequate process and does not provide ample opportunity for feedback from the local level.”
Ross Elliot, Special Projects Manager, Kern County, California