Jennifer Nou

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Is Either Seriously Misinformed on How the Census Bureau Works - or Doesn’t Care

The decennial Census is a high-stakes feat. It informs government spending, business planning, and congressional apportionment. No wonder the Census Bureau takes such great pains with each question. After all, when you ask only ten questions or so, you’ve got to make them count (pun intended). You can almost hear the bureaucratic hand-wringing in the agency’s requests for public comment: how should we word questions about race and Hispanic origin? Can we gather this information effectively through handheld computers, or through the internet? How will our “dress rehearsals” for collecting all this data go? For good reason, the Bureau engages in extensive survey pre-testing during the decade before show time. Census staffers must be an anxious lot.

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