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The U.S. Census Monitoring Board: History and...

In November 1997, Congress established the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, an eight-member bipartisan panel comprised of four members appointed by Congress and four by the President, "to observe and monitor all aspects of the preparation and implementation of the 2000 decennial census." The findings and recommendations of the Board are reported to Congress as prescribed by statute.

As America`s population grows and becomes more diverse, the information provided by the decennial census becomes an even more important tool in developing and implementing policies that impact all Americans. The numerical accuracy of the 2000 Census is important for it tells us how many people live in the United States, how much we have grown since 1990, and the ethnic makeup of the population.

Equally important is the distributive accuracy of the Census for that tells us where the people live. Knowing precisely where people live is critical in drawing the boundary lines that determine the fair apportionment of congressional seats among the States as well as political representation at the state and local levels of government. Knowing where people live is also vital in determining the allocation of more than $185 billion in federal funds for transportation, education, economic and community development, health care, and many other state and local programs. Congress, the Administration, Governors, legislators, Mayors, policy and planning professionals need accurate census data at the local level to determine the people and communities in most need of assistance.

While the majority of Americans will be counted, as they were in 1990, some people will be missed in Census 2000. Most will be poor, immigrants, members of minority communities and children. They will disproportionately include African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. They often live in hard-to-count areas such as inner-city neighborhoods, barrios, remote rural areas and reservations. If not corrected, this social injustice will result in inequities in political representation and funding for vitally needed programs.

The Congressionally Appointed Members of the Census Monitoring Board have spent the past three years meeting with and listening to the people who live, work and serve in the hard-to-count neighborhoods across the nation. We have reported to Congress and the Census Bureau their suggestions on ways to increase participation in the census and ensure a more accurate count. The Board will continue to hold meetings with local officials, community leaders and census stakeholders throughout the country to gather information for future reports to Congress on innovative programs and activities they used to increase census participation.

Former Co-Chairman J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio Secretary of State, led the Congressional members of the Board including Dr. David W. Murray, A. Mark Neuman and Joe Whitley, Esq.

The Statute - Text of the enabling legislation, setting up the Census Monitoring Board