02.11.19

Peters Sponsors Bill to Protect Integrity of 2020 Census

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today announced that he has joined his Senate colleagues in cosponsoring legislation that would protect the integrity of the 2020 Census by requiring any proposed changes to the count be properly studied, researched and tested by the Census Bureau.

“Any significant changes to the decennial census must be properly researched and vetted to ensure that taxpayer dollars will not be wasted on an inaccurate count,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense legislation would hold the Department of Commerce accountable and help instill greater trust in the accuracy of census data in communities across the country.”

The Census Bureau typically conducts extensive research and field testing to determine the optimal design of census forms, and even small changes in wording or question order can have unexpected effects on response rates and undermine the accuracy of census data. Without proper research and testing, last-minute changes or additions may discourage participation in the census, undercount certain populations, and increase the cost to the government by requiring a higher number of paid workers to go into neighborhoods to ensure an accurate population count. According to independent studies, data collected in the 2020 Census will be used to allocate over $14 billion in federal funds to local communities in Michigan, including for infrastructure projects, Medicaid, and Head Start.

The Census Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy (Census IDEA) Act would:

  • Prohibit last-minute changes or additions to the census without proper research, studying, and testing;
  • Ensure that subjects, types of information, and questions that have not been submitted to Congress according to existing law are not included;
  • Require biannual reports on the U.S. Census Bureau’s operation plan, including the status of its research and testing, and require that this report be publicly available on the Bureau’s website;
  • Direct the U.S. Government Accountability Office to determine and report to Congress that the subjects, types of information, and questions on the decennial census have been researched, studied, and tested to the same degree as previous decennial census; and
  • Apply the provisions of this bill only to the decennial census, and not the mid-decade census or the American Community Survey.

###