September 03, 2020

California Delegation Calls on Census Bureau to Detail How Accurate Count Will be Achieved

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Jimmy Gomez and Zoe Lofgren (all D-Calif.) today led the California congressional delegation in calling on the Census Bureau to provide details on how an accurate count will be conducted given the many obstacles and shortened timeline, as dictated by the administration.

“In California, nearly 15 percent of our residents remain uncounted, many in historically undercounted communities at risk of losing federal funding and resources,” the members of Congress wrote. “In light of the challenges created by COVID-19, the fires burning across California, and the recent decision to end counting operations early, we ask that you provide additional detail about how a complete count will be achieved.”

Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.

September 3, 2020

Dr. Steven Dillingham
Director
United States Census Bureau
4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233

Dear Dr. Dillingham:

This letter is to inquire about the U.S. Census Bureau’s plans for accurately counting our country’s population in the 2020 Census. In California, nearly 15 percent of our residents remain uncounted, many in historically undercounted communities at risk of losing federal funding and resources. In light of the challenges created by COVID-19, the fires burning across California, and the recent decision to end counting operations early, we ask that you provide additional detail about how a complete count will be achieved.

It is our understanding that with the shortened counting timeline, Census Bureau workers will need to visit 8 million more homes nationwide than in 2010, in just seven weeks instead of ten weeks. Data accuracy and review procedures for processing apportionment counts have also been reduced from six months to three months. Additional obstacles caused by COVID-19 include a higher number of people experiencing homelessness—an historically undercounted population—as well as difficulties with hiring and retention of census workers.

Given these significant barriers to a fair and accurate census, we would appreciate answers to the following questions.

  • With in-person counting operations cut short, the Census Bureau will likely need to utilize administrative records and statistical techniques to complete the enumeration. Do you now anticipate any changes in the number of households that will be enumerated using administrative records and other statistical techniques, or any additions to the types of administrative records that the Bureau will use to identify and enumerate households for which reliable administrative data exists? Will you change the standard used to determine whether administrative records for a particular household are of sufficient quality for use in enumeration?
  • What additional information will the Census Bureau disclose to Congress and the public about the progress of non-response follow up operations and the post-enumeration survey, and about the quality of the count?
  • Which California Area Census Offices (ACOs) have hired and trained less than 75% of the goal number of enumerators? Which have hired and trained less than 50%? Will the Census Bureau increase the number of enumerators to account for the large increase in people experiencing homelessness due to COVID-19? How have California’s wildfires impacted the number of enumerators needed in California?
  • When and how will the Census Bureau evaluate the adherence of decennial Census data products to its Statistical Quality Standards and Information Quality Guidelines – in particular, its commitment to objectivity? Which personnel will evaluate requests for correction, pursuant to the Information Quality Act, of any erroneous data in 2020 Census products?

Thank you for your attention to this request. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Zoe Lofgren
Member of Congress

Jimmy Gomez
Member of Congress

Kamala D. Harris
United States Senator

Pete Aguilar
Member of Congress

Nanette Barragán
Member of Congress

Karen Bass
Member of Congress

Ami Bera
Member of Congress

Julia Brownley
Member of Congress

Salud Carbajal
Member of Congress

Tony Cárdenas
Member of Congress

Judy Chu
Member of Congress

Gil Cisneros
Member of Congress

Lou Correa
Member of Congress

Jim Costa
Member of Congress

TJ Cox
Member of Congress

Susan A. Davis
Member of Congress

Mark Desaulnier
Member of Congress

Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress

John Garamendi
Member of Congress

Josh Harder
Member of Congress

Jared Huffman
Member of Congress

Ro Khanna
Member of Congress

Barbara Lee
Member of Congress

Mike Levin
Member of Congress

Ted Lieu
Member of Congress

Alan Lowenthal
Member of Congress

Doris Matsui
Member of Congress

Jerry Mcnerney
Member of Congress

Grace F. Napolitano
Member of Congress

Jimmy Panetta
Member of Congress

Scott Peters
Member of Congress

Katie Porter
Member of Congress

Harley Rouda
Member of Congress

Lucille Roybal-Allard
Member of Congress

Raul Ruiz
Member of Congress

Linda T. Sánchez
Member of Congress

Adam B. Schiff
Member of Congress

Brad Sherman
Member of Congress

Jackie Speier
Member of Congress

Eric Swalwell
Member of Congress

Mark Takano
Member of Congress

Mike Thompson
Member of Congress

Norma J. Torres
Member of Congress

Juan C. Vargas
Member of Congress

Maxine Waters
Member of Congress

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