Challenge #1: Funding Update (April 2018)

In the wake of continuing budget resolutions, which funded the U.S. Census Bureau at 2017 levels ($1.5 billion), the President signed an omnibus spending bill in March 2018 increasing FY 2018 funding for the Bureau by more than $1.3 billion, to $2.8 billion.  The increase in funding, $1.1 billion more than the administration's request, was celebrated news among census advocates.  However, given that the 2020 Census is now less than two years away, many advocates are now turning their attention to funding for FY2019.  Information about the U.S. Census Bureau's funding request for FY2019, $3.8 billion, is available here.

Image courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau (2018).

Image courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau (2018).

The Takeaway

The increased funding for FY2018 is good news for achieving a fair and accurate census count in 2020.  At the same time, it is important to recognize that over the past several years the Bureau has implemented a number of cuts to operational planning in response to budget uncertainty and inadequate funding.  Some decisions, such as reducing the number of 2020 census field test sites, at this point cannot be reversed.  Other decisions however, including proposed reductions to partnership and communications programs, can be reinstated with adequate funding.  To this point, a recent article in FCW points out that the March 2018 budget agreement includes an accompanying report directing the Bureau to staff and conduct its partnership and communications programs "no less than that conducted during fiscal year 2008 in preparation for the 2010 decennial census."


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