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Hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs - Opening Statement of Sen. McCaskill, Hearing on Nominations of Steven D. Dillingham to be Director of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Michael M. Kubayanda to be a Commissioner, Postal Regulatory Commission


Location: Unknown

Thank you, Chairman Johnson.

At today's hearing, we will consider nominees for two very important positions.

Steven Dillingham is nominated to be the Director of the Census Bureau. Welcome, Dr. Dillingham. The Census is one of the oldest and most important functions of the federal government, and we have a responsibility to ensure that it is done as well and as thoroughly as possible, but also that it is done at a responsible cost. You come to us with a long career in public service and the private sector, and I appreciate your willingness to continue to serve.

The Census Bureau is approaching the most critical period of the ten-year Census cycle, and problems with our preparedness for the Census need to be addressed sooner rather than later. We need to be sure that the Bureau is ready and that the preparations, the systems, and the budget are all in place to make this Census successful. I'm looking forward to hearing from you today about how you plan to do that.

One of the most important issues I hope you will address is the question of data security and public confidence in the Bureau. Since 1954, Title 13 of the U.S. Code has required that the Census Bureau protect the personal information that Americans share with the Bureau every ten years. Americans need to be able to trust that the Census Bureau will protect their private information, and the Census Bureau needs that trust to be able to do its job properly. Cybersecurity in particular is a concern of mine, and there are real questions about how prepared the Bureau is to safeguard Americans' information against cyberattacks. I look forward to hearing from you today about how you will address those problems and secure Census data as the law requires.

I will also be interested in hearing from you about your plans to improve the Census Bureau's outreach to hard to count populations. The Census has an obligation to count everyone in the country, and that means that we need a robust program of outreach to connect with populations in rural areas and other areas that are hard to reach. It also means that we need a plan to build confidence among people who are nervous about the Census and to help those people understand the importance and the safety of participating in the count. I'm pleased to know that you are committed to this vital part of the Census Bureau's mission, and I'm looking forward to hearing about your plans to improve the Bureau's partnerships and outreach to those hard to count populations.

Mr. Kubayanda, I'm also glad to see you. The Postal Regulatory Commission is an important part of the regulation of the Postal Service, and an especially important part of ensuring that the Postal Service continues to provide reliable and affordable service to the entire country.

You come to us with a long record of public service, and a particularly impressive expertise in postal issues. I understand that you left the Postal Service Inspector General's office three years ago, and I thank you for your willingness to return to public service.

I'll be especially interested in hearing from you today about an issue of concern to many of my constituents in Missouri, which is the quality of rural mail service, and the threat of post office closures. I hear from people in Missouri all the time about increasing service delays that are causing problems for small businesses, costing people money in late fees, and increasing their frustration with the postal service. The universal service obligation is one of the most important duties of the Postal Service, and I hope to hear from you about what you think should be done to safeguard and improve the quality of mail service in rural and other areas.

We also need to address the financial condition of the Postal Service. The Postal Service has experienced eleven consecutive years of net losses, and its accumulated net losses total more than $65 billion. This deficit is a threat to the future of the Postal Service, and to its ability to continue providing service to the entire country. I hope to hear from you about how you expect to deal with this longstanding problem in a way that preserves the American people's ability to rely on affordable and universal postal delivery.

Again, thank you both for being here today, and I look forward to your

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