Chairman, Ranking Member Highlight 5-Year Mark in Countdown to 2020 Census

With exactly five years until the beginning of the 2020 Decennial Census, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) highlighted the progress the U.S. Census Bureau has made in preparing for the decennial enumeration and also the remaining challenges. As part of its ongoing oversight, the Committee will hold a hearing to closely examine the preparations for the 2020 Census, including its budget, leadership, technology, and schedule later this month.

“Today marks the halfway point in preparing for the 2020 Census,” Chairman Johnson said. “I appreciate the Census Bureau’s efforts to implement information technology initiatives in order to increase self-response and to reduce costly and laborious field operations.  However, the $13 billion price tag of the 2010 Census — including an abandoned $3 billion handheld data collection project — casts doubt over the bureau’s ability to revolutionize the 2020 Census.  I look forward to working with Ranking Member Carper, the bureau, and the Government Accountability Office to help the bureau overcome the many challenges it will face over the next five years in conducting a more cost-effective and accurate 2020 Census.”

“Conducting a successful census takes years of careful planning.  Today’s halfway mark reminds us that the 2020 count is quickly approaching,” Ranking Member Carper said. “Given that the 2010 Census cost nearly $13 billion – the costliest count in history – and was hamstrung by serious technology failures, it’s critical that we learn from the last decade’s mistakes and meet key milestones on time and on budget. Congress and the Administration must work together to ensure the Bureau plans and achieves a more cost-efficient, modern, and accurate 2020 Census. I look forward to learning more about the Bureau’s progress and remaining obstacles in its preparation for the 2020 Census at our Committee’s hearing later this month.”

Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the Census Bureau’s preparations for and readiness to deliver an internet response option for the 2020 Decennial Census. The report, “2020 Census: Key Challenges Need to Be Addressed to Successfully Enable Internet Response,” outlined the progress underway at the Census Bureau to deliver an internet response for the upcoming 2020 census, but describes several challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure success. The report found that the Census needs to develop better cost estimates for the internet response, answer key questions related to the internet self-response rate, determine the information technology infrastructure needed to support an internet response, and estimate timeframes for making decisions related to cloud computing to support the internet option.

Learn more about the U.S. Census Bureau’s preparations on the GAO’s WatchBlog