Full funding for the Census Bureau in the current fiscal year (FY) will be essential not only to effective preparation and testing for the next decennial Census, but also to the continued improvement of the American Community Survey (ACS) -- both of which are of prime importance to the survey, opinion and marketing research profession.

MRA joined our Census Project coalition allies in asking the Appropriations Committees in the U.S. House and Senate to fully fund the Census Bureau in the upcoming omnibus appropriations legislation. As we explained, "the $982.5 million FY2014 request represents a modest but essential ramp-up on the road to Census 2020." This was the amount requested by the White House back in April, and approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in S. 1329. The House (H.R. 2787) and Senate appropriations bills are almost $140 million apart in their proposed funding levels for the Census Bureau.

Our letter continues, "Sequestration, across-the-board budget cuts, and Continuing Resolutions have forced the Census Bureau to delay, streamline, or cancel many 2020 Census research and testing projects. The bureau has made hard choices about how to allocate limited r esources, to ensure comprehensive evaluation of promising new methods and operational reforms that could reduce the overall cost of the census by billions of dollars. For example, the bureau has detailed dozens of 2020 Census staff members to other parts o f the agency in order to pay for a test of adaptive design methods this fall and a site test of electronic contact methods and response options next summer (originally planned for spring 2014). The agency also has delayed or scaled back research into mode rnizing the work of census enumerators through greater use of technology, the quality of administrative records databases that could guide more efficient door-to-door visits and improve census accuracy, enumeration of special populations, processing census returns that lack a geographic identification code, and many other activities that will help ensure an efficient, modern, and high quality decennial census. An important Content Test for the American Community Survey (ACS), which will help address congres sional concerns about the survey’s response burden and usefulness of ACS data, will take place a year later than originally planned, leaving less time to evaluate the results before a legal deadline for submitting the survey topics to Congress."