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For Immediate Release:
Contact: Clark Reid

Congressional Members Recognize Census Bureau Professionalism

Washington, DC – The Congressionally Appointed Members of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board Thursday recognized the professionalism demonstrated by Census Bureau Acting Director William Barron and his staff in their deliberations to determine if a statistical adjustment of the 2000 decennial census is feasible.

“The recommendation by the Census Bureau professionals to release unadjusted data as the Bureau’s official redistricting data was the right decision,” said Board Co-Chairman J. Kenneth Blackwell.  “Statistical adjustment on the scale being attempted by the Census Bureau was a complex process.  It represented a new and untested method.  Bureau professionals correctly set high standards that had to be met before they would recommend adjustment data. Apparently the process did not meet those standards.”

The Bureau attempted to design a statistical adjustment methodology to reduce the differential undercount of those traditionally missed in the census – African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans.  These groups tend to live in such hard-to-count areas as inner-city neighborhoods, barrios, remote rural areas, and on reservations.

Congressional Board Member A. Mark Neuman noted, however, the 2000 Census showed a dramatic reduction in the differential undercount that can be attributed to several factors.  “Congress appropriated nearly $7 billion for Census operations and a first ever $187 million national advertising campaign increased awareness of the census,” he said. “Furthermore, a 67% mail response rate allowed more funds to be directed to finding the hard-to-count populations traditionally missed in the census.”

The Bureau’s 2000 Census statistical adjustment methodology was based on the model it employed in 1990.  A study by the Congressional Board Members of the 1990 model revealed there would be only marginal increases in the heavily undercounted blocks and neighborhoods and adjustment would also add people to blocks and neighborhoods that were overcounted.

“Our study reinforced our concerns that statistical adjustment would not accomplish much of what its supporters were promising,” said Blackwell.  “Moreover, those same people were giving false hope to all those who were being told statistical adjustment would account for those missed in the census.”

“That does not mean, however, that the Congressional Members of the Board or others who have expressed concerns regarding the complexities and accuracy of adjustment are not concerned about those who are missed in the census,” said Congressional Member David Murray.

“We stand behind our recommendations to Congress and the Bureau to make better use of administrative records, form more public/private partnerships, and provide adequate funding and resources to ensure the most accurate count possible in future censuses,” concluded Murray.
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