Budget Cuts Affecting American Community Survey
Last week, the House of Representatives voted to cut funding for the American Community Survey, which the Census Bureau has been using instead of the long form census.
The voting on this legislation was, with only a few exceptions, on party lines.
- Supporters of the American Community Survey, mainly Democrats and people who benefit from the data collected (e.g. local governments, businesspeople, those in the media, and librarians), generally consider the survey a valuable resource that is essential for economic and infrastructure planning, for allocation of funding for federal programs, and for business planning.
- Supporters of the budget cut, mainly Republicans, privacy advocates, and financial conservatives, generally believe that the survey questions (such as whether someone in the household is experiencing memory loss, how many times one left one’s home in a given week, and one’s exact income) are too intrusive and that businesses benefiting from the information should pay for its collection rather than having the taxpayers spend $2.4 billion for the data collected between decennial censuses.
The American Association of Law Libraries has posted an action alert, “Help Save the American Community Survey,” encouraging people to contact their senators and express their support for the American Community Survey.
Bill Sources and Tracking
H.R.5326, Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013, is the House version of the legislation, which the House passed and sent to the Senate. One may track the legislation on Thomas.
The Senate’s Appropriations Legislation for Fiscal Year 2013 page provides links to bills and reports from both the Senate and the House.
One may view the House debates on page H2507 of the May 9, 2012 Congressional Record.
One may view the House voting record in the May 10, 2012 Congressional Record.
Supporting American Community Survey:
- Robert M. Groves, A Future Without Key Social and Economic Statistics for the Country, YouTube, May 11, 2012 *
- Operating in the Dark, New York Times, May 13, 2012 *
- Suzy Khimm, Does government knowledge mean government intrusion?, Washington Post, May 13, 2012 *
- Matthew Phillips, Killing the American Community Survey Blinds Business, Businessweek, May 10, 2012*
- 2010 American Community Survey Sample forms and Instructions (contains explanations of “[w]hy the Census Bureau asks certain questions”)
- Stats in Action (Census Bureau YouTube Channel) *
- ADDED 5/16/2012: The American Community Survey is a count worth keeping, Washington Post, May 15, 2012*
- ADDED 5/16/2012: Norman Ornstein, Research Cuts Are Akin to Eating Seed Corn, Roll Call, May 16, 2012
Supporting Budget Cut:
- Reduce Census Bureau data collection that is beyond the Constitutional mandate (part of YouCut initiative)
- Michael Collins, Census Bureau questionnaires criticized by Rep. Duncan as intrusive, Knoxnews.com, May 14, 2012
- David Oatney, East Tennessee Congressmen vote to scrap highly intrusive Census Bureau survey, Examiner.com, May 14, 2012
- In Case You Missed It: Webster’s Amendment to Eliminate Intrusive and Costly ACS Survey Passes House, (video) May 10, 2012
- Rep. James Lankford: “American Community Survey is Incredibly Invasive”, (video) May 10, 2012
- Census Survey Asks Too Much, G.O.P. Says, New York Times, August 19, 2010 (The opposition to American Community Survey is not recent.)
* The Census Bureau provided these links in e-mail updates to librarians.