Congress should back efforts for solid census
The upcoming decennial census slated for 2010 is stuck in political turmoil again on Capitol Hill.
This after the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, deemed it a "high-risk" area due to severe management and budgetary woes.
As it turns out, the Census Bureau's new hand-held computer system isn't making the grade. To accurately count the millions of Americans, the computers will need upgrades that could cost hundreds of millions more.
The contractor hired to create the computer system warned census officials about the problems two years ago and asked for the funds needed to fix the problem on the front end. No dice: The White House denied that request.
So it's not surprising that in late 2006, the Census Bureau's director and deputy director resigned, citing a lack of support from the Bush administration. The White House underscored that point by taking seven months to nominate a new director; Congress returned the favor by taking six more months to confirm that pick, former Texas demographer Steve Murdock.
With just two years to go until the big count, it's time to push past the politics and find the funds to correct the computer fiasco.
A reliable national count is imperative: Census data is critical in determining federal funding for cities and states, including funding for key social programs designed to help the most needy among us. And census data also determine how many congressional seats and electoral votes states get.
Congress must work with Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez to get the Census Bureau back on track and hold those responsible for the computer mess accountable along the way.
The work of the Census Bureau is far too important to America's cities and states — and to its citizens, who deserve an accurate population count as mandated by the U.S. Constitution.