The once-in-a-decade national survey that serves as a guide for the federal government to allocate resources to the states has lost it’s chief operator, John Thompson, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Politico reported last week. Thompson’s departure comes abruptly in June, in the run-up for data collection that spans across the country in order to ascertain what resources are needed where in the U.S. His resignation leaves the agency left with the obstacle of performing a test-run of the new electronic collection system that cost the agency 50% over budget expenses.
This new electronic data collection system has run into major errors in the recent history since it’s inception as a digital tool to upgrade the Census data collection methods. As a matter of fact, I can remember living with a former room mate who served on the New York City region as a district manager for the last Census survey in 2010. According to my former house mate, the new electronic devices that were assigned to the workers kept malfunctioning. And, due to limited resources, the agency was forced to rely on paper logs that were collected only in certain areas and ‘guesstimate’ other information that had to be manually entered back into the system. Information that the digital device would have already recorded and kept, had it worked properly.
Inaccurate representation in Census data can lead to gaps in services, and resources desperately needed in communities most vulnerable to cuts, like benefits and social services. Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal dollars each year are guided by the direction of Census data to reallocate and reapportion House legislative seats during the yearly ‘reapportionment’ of the federal monies. The portrait of the American population that the Census depicts in it’s report will determine the political landscape of the entire country for the next 10 years.
Generally scientists, more specifically and usually statisticians, have lead the bureau; though the Trump administration is far behind in appointees for government positions, and does not show any indication of worthy nominations to fill the position.
The New York Times reports that under the new leadership of President Donald Trump, Tom Price is appointed as the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. the Census agency quickly removed options of ‘sexual orientation‘ and ‘gender identity‘ of terms/topics that advocates have fought decades to just recently acquire. During the same time, other DHHS national survey’s removed questions of sexuality from the survey options.
Without these critical markers, the federal dollars won’t be spent on resources critical to some of the most vulnerable people in the LGBTQ community.