Apportionment in the Balance: A Look into the Progress of the 2010 Decennial Census

Andrew Reamer
Andrew Reamer Former Brookings Expert

March 1, 2006

In the hearing on “Apportionment in the Balance: A Look into the Progress of the 2010 Decennial Census,” Andrew Reamer testified to the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform. Reamer explained why on-going support of the planning and preparation leading up to the 2010 Decennial Census is a necessary and important public investment for urban markets.

An accurate, reliable census count is an important public investment with strong returns. Information from the Decennial Census drives the allocation of billions of federal dollars distributed annually, enables the planning for the physical security of Americans, and shapes the apportionment of seats at federal, state and local levels of government. Also, information from the Census drives investment decisions in the private sector. It is no understatement to say that the vitality of America’s businesses and economy relies significantly on a successful Census.

In his testimony, Reamer discussed four elements that are necessary for a successful 2010 Census:

  • An accurate Master Address File (MAF). People cannot be counted if the U.S. Census Bureau does not know where they live or if there are missing units of habitation.
  • Minimal coverage error in order to reduce duplicate enumerations, whereby people are counted in more than one place, and omissions, whereby people are not counted at all.
  • A fully and consistently funded American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS will replace the long form to become the primary source of information of characteristics of Americans— telling us who we are and where we are going.
  • Automation of field data collection, digital methods for a digital age. The availability of handheld computers is very important for increasing enumerator efficiency and enumeration accuracy.