COPAFS Statement on Recent Census Appointments of Dr. Cogley and Mr. Korzeniewski
July 7, 2020
The Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS) has a forty-year history of working to protect the objectivity, accuracy, and trustworthiness of the federal statistical system, including the Census Bureau. The recent Census Bureau appointments by President Trump’s administration of Nathaniel Cogley (Deputy Director of Policy) and Adam Korzeniewski (Advisor to Cogley) threaten these foundations. It is troubling that there has been no explanation offered by the administration as to why a second deputy and an additional appointee position were created and what relevant functions these appointees will perform. Indeed, it appears that these appointments are aimed at politicizing the 2020 Census and could do damage to the Bureau’s mission to provide the public with accurate, independent, nonpartisan, and timely information.
The reasons these appointments are so concerning are fourfold: First, the timing of the appointments makes little sense coming more than 11 weeks after Census Day (April 1, 2020) and months after the methodology, analysis plans, and various other preparations for the decennial census have been finalized. Second, the creation of these two new positions did not come from the Census Bureau or the Commerce Department, but were imposed from the White House without specification of need, function, or intent. Third, these appointments are unprecedented. Never in the 230-year history of the Census have political appointees been given senior roles within the Census Bureau in this manner while the decennial census was well underway. Finally, and most troubling, is the lack of transparency as to why these appointments were necessary and what Dr. Cogley and Mr. Korzeniewski will be doing in their new roles. Transparency is essential for public trust in the objectivity of the decennial census and these two appointments appear to be contrary to this goal.
We ask the White House to set forth why these appointments were necessary and what responsibilities Dr. Cogley and Mr. Korzeniewski will perform that do not encroach on the independence of the decennial census and accurate decennial counts. The decennial census helps to determine the allocation of over $675 billion to the states and communities and provides the basis for legislative redistricting. COPAFS is dedicated to protecting the objectivity and transparency of this essential work. It is in this spirit, that we urge continued vigilance by those in Congress, the media, scientific and statistical organizations to protect the public interest and the public trust.
COPAFS Executive Director
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