Assessment Includes Recommendations Based on Lessons from 2000 Count
WASHINGTON -- Created by Congress to monitor the largest peacetime mobilization in U.S. history, the Presidential Members of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board ended a chapter in census history today with the release of its final report to Congress. The report reveals the many challenges faced by the Board during its three-year existence, as well as many successes and benchmarks of Census 2000 that will set the standard for the next census in 2010.
"This report represents over three years of dedicated service to the cause of an accurate Census count," said Gilbert Casellas, Presidential Co-Chair of the Monitoring Board. "It embodies not only our legacy, but also our belief that the census, as a foundation of democracy, should count every individual in our great nation. It is our hope that this final report will serve as a useful roadmap for 2010."
At the heart of the CMBP report to Congress is a set of eighteen recommendations that the Presidential Members believe can be used to improve future counts based on lessons learned from the 2000 effort. The recommendations urge leaders to:
- Remove partisan politics from the process of the census.
- Set a 5-7 year term for the Census Director, rather than serving at the pleasure of the president.
- Set an earlier deadline for resolving 2010 methodology.
- Eliminate redundant oversight for the 2010 survey.
- Strive to maintain a transparent census operation.
- Continue Congressional funding for a post-enumeration survey.
- Repeat the national paid advertising program in 2010.
- Adequately fund the 2010 Census.
- Continue Demographic Analysis, but not as a substitute for statistical adjustment.
- Require the Census Bureau to develop greater capacity to measure immigration.
- Use gross error rather than net error as the primary basis to determine the accuracy of the census.
- Include imputations and remove potential duplicates in discussions of gross and net error.
- Conduct further analysis of the Local Update of Census Addresses to determine its impact on accuracy.
- Make federal funds available to state and local governments to allow them to modernize their own mapping technologies.
- Ensure the census complies with its pre-determined data products release schedule.
- Continue and improve cooperation between national and regional offices and local governments, community-based and religious organizations.
- Ensure Census Bureau headquarters provides regional offices with necessary resources.
- Increase the number of qualified individuals to serve as Partnership Specialists to bridge national/local gap.
The full report, including studies and additional recommendations, can be viewed by visiting: www.cmbp.gov.
"Census 2000 was plagued by the so-called 'differential undercount,'" explained Gil Casellas, "a problem that occurs when more members of racial minorities are undercounted by the Census than majority members of the population. According to the Census Bureau itself, the 2000 Census missed Asians nearly twice as often as Whites; African Americans were missed three times as often as Whites; Hispanics were missed over four times as often; Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders were missed over six times as often; and American Indians were missed seven times as often."
"Even after the Census Bureau's operational successes of meeting deadlines, hiring nearly one million persons, forming over 140,000 partnerships, completing the first-ever paid advertising campaign and raising the mail response rate, the differential undercount, while reduced, remains," Mr. Casellas said. "We must be alert to the problem of the differential undercount as the Census Bureau prepares to make the critical decision in October as to whether to release the adjusted numbers. We must certainly keep it in mind as we go into Census 2010."
During the course of its mandated three year existence, the CMBP conducted a series of studies in conjunction with experts in various fields who examined the impact the undercount will have on key federal, state and local programs and services such as those pertaining to healthcare, education, transportation and others.
"The undercount not only hampers Congress in its ability to direct federal funds to places where they are needed, but it also denies to taxpayers the right to have their money come back to their communities in the form of Federal program funds," said Casellas. "We have long argued, and studies have borne this out, that the use of statistically adjusted numbers would have made a major difference in people's lives."
Last spring the Census Bureau recommended against adjusting the census for purposes of redrawing the lines of Congressional, state and local political districts. The Census Bureau estimates that the 2000 Census missed 6.4 million people, disproportionately minority, children and the poor, and counted 3.1 million people twice, largely white and affluent, for a net undercount of 3.3 million people.
The bipartisan Census Monitoring Board was established in 1997 to monitor Census 2000 operations. During that time it conducted 11 hearings, 18 briefings, 33 field operations, numerous community forums and panel discussions, and generated 10 reports to Congress.
The report being submitted to Congress today is the final report. The Census Monitoring Board's legal mandate ends September 30, 2001.