APDU staff attended the Census 2020: Navigating the National and Local Challenges panel discussion hosted by the Brookings Institution to hear legal, demographic, and Census experts discuss a Decennial Census that has garnered interest both for its importance and for its controversies. Primary questions from the meeting revolved implications of including the citizenship question in the Decennial Census, cybersecurity, and how to encourage residents to respond.
Former Census Bureau Director John Thompson noted that there is “no basis for the citizenship question” and that agency research indicates that it will decrease the response rate. Brookings Senior Fellow William Frey supported Thompson’s statements by emphasizing the importance of gathering this community data and the impacts it will have on communities’ federal funding, private grant dollars, and resources to serve the right population.
Thompson shared that the Census Bureau was underfunded from 2012 – 2017, so the Bureau prioritized shifting from the traditional paper collection to an automated and online process. He noted the Bureau is constantly working on improving cybersecurity and is committed to keeping residents’ responses safe and confidential.
The second panel facilitated by the National League of Cities’ CEO Clarence Anthony focused on the implications and efforts at the local level to ensure the best data possible is collected. Beth Link, the Director of Census Counts, encouraged communities to educate their elected officials and noted that there will be questionnaire assistance centers to help make the necessary technology accessible to communities where it’s needed and to help answer questions as residents complete the forms.
APDU will continue to monitor 2020 Census preparations and will serve as a resource to our members moving forward. To learn more and hear directly from Census Bureau leadership, join us at the APDU Annual Conference in Arlington, VA on July 9-10, 2019.
Resources shared during the discussion include:
Recordings of the Panels can be found below.