Push to save U.S. Census Bureau survey
The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) is urging its members to contact their representatives in Congress to restore funding so the U.S. Census Bureau can continue to conduct the American Community Survey (ACS).
Funding for the survey is threatened by the House of Representatives, which voted in May to eliminate the ACS and more recently proposed to make participation in the survey voluntary. Because the survey uses sampling, voluntary participation would make achieving a representative sample more difficult and therefore more costly. The ACS is fully funded in the Senate version of the appropriations bill.
The Census Bureau is watching its pennies, says Robert Groves, director of the Census Bureau. “My colleagues at the bureau are revolutionizing how the highest-quality statistics can be produced as cheaply as possible. One of the ways we are saving money is using the ACS to build a more efficient 2020 Census. We also plan to save money by adding an Internet option to the ACS in January.
“The statistics from the economic census and the ACS depend on the participation of businesses and households. Each does its part by providing answers to the questions; the agency assembles the answers to create the statistics. Every Congress, starting with the first Congress, has deemed the resulting statistics so important that participation is mandated by law,” Groves said in a statement.
Governments are key users of ACS data. Local communities use ACS to choose locations for new schools, hospitals, and fire stations. Municipal planners, determining whether and where to build a new senior center, need to know where the elderly live in their city, and whether they have relatives in the area to care for them. Government agencies targeting billions of tax dollars in annual anti-poverty, health care or transportation appropriations need detailed data on household incomes. Legislators debating health care policy need current information on the number of people who lack health coverage, and where they are concentrated.
Go to the ICMA site for a statement on the need to save the ACS.