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Anomalies found in the data jeopardize the census deadline

The director of the Census Bureau said on Thursday that irregularities were found during the census census phase in 2020, a development that threatens the statistical agency’s ability to meet a year-end transmission deadline. used to allocate seats in Congress.

The Census Bureau is already facing a shortened schedule of two and a half months to process the data collected during the 2020 census – about half of the originally planned time. The census bureau would not say what the anomalies were on Thursday, nor would it say publicly if there would be a new deadline for distribution numbers.

“This type of processing anomaly has occurred in past censuses,”

; Stephen Dillingham, director of the Census Bureau, said in a statement. “I urge the Census Bureau to use all available resources to resolve this as soon as possible. As all the time, our goal remains an accurate and statistically sound census. “

The census bureau said it would not comment further.

“This is not at all surprising to me,” Robert Santos, president-elect of the American Statistical Association, said in an email. “The idea that the 2020 census data can be processed in half the planned time, given all the obstacles and challenges faced by the Census Bureau, is not logical.”

These challenges include pandemics, forest fires in the West and hurricanes in the Gulf states.

Missing the December 31 distribution deadline would be a blow to President Donald Trump’s efforts to exclude people in the country illegally from counting in the numbers used to determine the number of seats in each state’s congress and how 1.5 trillion dollars in federal spending is allocated.

After the president receives the numbers by the December 31 deadline, the president has about a week from the start of the next congress to submit them to the House. If the Census Bureau delays the transfer of distribution numbers due to processing problems, this number transfer may take place after the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Three courts have ruled that Trump’s distribution order is illegal – in New York, California and Maryland. The Ministry of Justice appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments at the end of the month.

The House of Commons Bureau’s oversight and reform committee, which heads the Census Bureau, was not informed of the irregularities before they became public, said Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York who chairs the committee.

Maloney asked the bureau for information about the anomalies, the accuracy of the data and the potential delays in the schedule.

Due to the pandemic, the Census Bureau changed its deadline for completing the number of heads per decade per US resident from late July to late October. He also extended the deadline for submitting numbers for distribution from the end of December to the end of next April, giving the bureau’s statisticians five months to cut the figures.

However, in late July and early August, officials at the Ministry of Commerce, which controls the Census Bureau, announced that field operations would end in late September and the distribution numbers would adhere to the December 31 deadline set by Congress.

A coalition of local governments and advocacy groups is suing, arguing that the shortened schedule will reduce minorities and hard-to-count communities. Their lawsuit also alleges that the schedule was shortened to ensure that the numbers were calculated under the supervision of the Trump administration so that the president’s distribution order could be carried out.

Jeffrey Weiss, an adjunct professor at the New York School of Law who specializes in census and redistribution law, said he would not be surprised if the president appointed a politically appointed head of the bureau in his final weeks, “who will do whatever he can.” and want Trump. “

Over the past year, the Trump administration has nominated a handful of political appointees to the Census Bureau’s leadership team, drawing sharp criticism from Democratic leaders of a House of Parliament oversight committee and questions about their hiring by the Commerce Department’s inspector general.

“It’s completely unpredictable,” said Weiss, who has worked with the National Democratic Party on redistribution programs.


Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP.

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