HSGAC Hearing Statement: 2020 Census: Examining Cost Overruns, Information Security, and Accuracy

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), former chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), released the following statement on the committee hearing to examine the 2020 Census.

“As one of the few governmental activities required by the Constitution, the Census is fundamentally important to our nation. It determines the apportionment of seats in Congress, provides data to determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in government funds are distributed and is used by the private sector to drive business decisions. Therefore, we must ensure that the Census is thorough and accurate, and that it meets its mission to count each individual American once at a single residence.

“The 2010 Census was the costliest in history. Operating on an antiquated framework, the total cost of the census ballooned to around $13 billion. Congress soon learned that the multi-billion-dollar cost escalation could be attributed to an accumulation of avoidable management failures within the Census Bureau, which included badly outdated technology and operational inefficiencies. Simply put, we need to make certain that the issues that led to failures and cost overruns in 2010 are addressed, as taxpayers should not have to pick up the tab for them again.

“As we are just years away from the 2020 decennial census, Congress must ensure that the Census Bureau has the operational flexibility, funding and leadership it needs to learn from the failures and cost overruns we saw in 2010 and carry out a successful census in 2020. First and foremost, steady leadership at the bureau’s helm is absolutely critical in reversing the trend of decennial censuses marked by poor planning and escalating costs. Unfortunately, we are starting to see some of the same patterns repeat themselves today as we did in 2010. That’s why I’m happy to see this committee taking a hard look at the Census, and I hope we can continue to hold oversight hearings to ensure that we conduct a thorough and accurate count in 2020.

“Further, it defies common sense that President Trump, a former businessman, has not yet named his nominee for Census Director. The constitutionally-mandated work of the Census is not just vital for policy makers at all levels of government, but also for businesses large and small across our economy. I urge the president to fill the gaping void of leadership at the top of the Census Bureau and work with Congress now to prepare for a modernized, accurate and cost-effective 2020 census.”