Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the census, hailed the unanimous Senate passage of legislation that brings much needed stability of leadership and organizational reform to the Census Bureau, the nation's largest general-purpose statistical agency. The Census Oversight and Management Act of 2010, co-authored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), is crafted to improve Census management challenges which arise from the fact the Census operates on a constitutionally mandated ten-year cycle while Presidential administrations which oversee management of the Census operate on a four-year cycle. The bill strengthens Congressional oversight of the Census to help prevent operational problems that have emerged on the eve of the censuses in 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010, in part from a lack of steady leadership and management due to changes in Presidential administrations.
The Census Oversight, Efficiency and Management Reform Act would ensure that the Census Bureau enjoys the independence of governance that will best enable it to perform its essential function in the following ways:
o Makes the Director of the Census Bureau a presidential term appointment of five years, with the 10-year decennial cycle split into two, five-year phases - planning and operational, creating continuity across administrations.
o Gives the Director the independence to report directly to the Secretary of Commerce without being required to report through any other official at the Commerce Department.
o Requires the Director to submit to Congress a comprehensive annual report on the next decennial census, with a description of the Bureau's performance standards and a risk-assessment of each significant decennial operation.
o Requires the Bureau to test, develop, and implement an option for internet response to the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey.
"This bill is an important step forward in our effort to modernize and improve the Census process," said Sen. Carper. "By working with our colleagues across the aisle, we were able to enact several common sense reforms that will strengthen the Census Bureau and enhance our ability to conduct a thorough, cost effective, and accurate Census. I'd like to thank my colleagues for passing this bill and look forward to seeing a stronger, improved Census in 2020 and beyond."
"In an age where the internet has become a primary form of communication and administration, getting the Census online by 2020 is a top priority. Although this is only the first step, it helps lay the groundwork for conducting cost-effective oversight that will give Congress and the Census Director the ability to better manage this Constitutional responsibility," said Sen. Coburn, M.D.