CMBP News Headlines


CMBP News Release

For Immediate Release: January 27, 1999


Washington, D.C. The four Presidentially appointed Members of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board issued their first report to Congress today, in which they conclude that a "massive differential undercount of minorities and children" is inevitable in the upcoming 2000 census if Congress blocks the Census Bureau's plan to release a second set of adjusted results through the use of a Post Enumeration Survey (PES).

The Board Members found that the Census Bureau is "on track" to conduct the 2000 decennial census without the use of statistical "sampling," as ordered Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But, they cited nonpartisan evidence presented to the Board during several public hearings last year and in interviews earlier this week that "no matter how much money Congress appropriates to the task," a traditional head count without sampling in 2000 will "inevitably result in a huge undercount of the most vulnerable members of our society: urban and rural poor, people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, and children."

The Supreme Court earlier this week held that the Census Bureau cannot use any statistical adjustment techniques for purposes of reapportioning the U.S. House of Representatives in 2001. But, the Court noted that the current law requires the Bureau to scientifically adjust the census results for all other purposes, including the disbursement of federal funds and redistricting legislative districts within states.

Tony Coelho, the Presidential Co-Chair of the Monitoring Board, said today that Democrats and Republicans in Congress and the Administration should rally around the nonpartisan Census Bureau at this critical point in time.

"There are just 14 months until the census begins," Coelho said.

"The time for political bickering is over. Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, it's clear that the Census Bureau needs to produce the best possible traditional count for reapportionment, and then a second set of scientifically adjusted results to enable states and localities to get their fair share of federal funds."

Coelho added, "Those who oppose full funding of a PES are effectively endorsing a massive undercount" in 2000 an outcome that "should be unacceptable to all Americans."

The Presidential Board Members pointed to new statements from members of the nonpartisan National Academy of Sciences, who said this week that a regular census (one that does not utilize sampling during the nonresponse followup phase) can still succeed, but only if the Bureau is allowed to conduct its widely endorsed post-census survey and to adjust the results accordingly.

For example, Dr. John Rolph, Chairman of the NAS Committee on National Statistics, told the Board, "A large and well carried out Post Enumeration Survey is critically important for assessing the coverage of Census 2000 and, hence, knowing how well we have done."

The Presidential Members of the Board reported that the recent census dress rehearsals in California, South Carolina and Wisconsin were successful. However, "despite the Bureau's best efforts, the undercount rates were unacceptably large" due to dramatic social and demographic changes since 1990. For example, the undercount rate in the Sacramento dress rehearsal was 6.3 percent much higher than expected.

Today's transmittal also recommends against reinstituting the 1990 Post Census Local Review program, which has been replaced for 2000 by an elaborate "Precensus" local government review process that is more timely and extensive in terms of national coverage.

Further, the report summarizes research the Board conducted into the possibility of utilizing existing federal and state "administrative records" to improve census coverage. The Board found that despite the real potential of this approach in future censuses, there are too many logistical hurdles and data deficiencies to allow for any major operational changes in the census plan set to April 1, 2000, just 14 months away.

The Monitoring Board was created last year by Congress and the Administration to observe and monitor all aspects of the Census Bureau's preparations for 2000. The Congressionally appointed members issued their own report today.

The next report issued by the Monitoring Board is expected on April 1, 1999.

Contact: Estela B. Mendoza, 301-457-9903



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U.S. Census Monitoring Board
Presidential Members
4700 Silver Hill Road
Suite 1250 – 3
Suitland, MD 20746
Phone: (301) 457-9900
Fax: (301) 457-9901