Census Bureau (FY) 2021

The Honorable José Serrano
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Robert Aderholt
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Jerry Moran
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Moran, Ranking Member Shaheen, Chairman Serrano, and Ranking Member

As you consider fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations, we write to respectfully request your support for $1.681 billion for the Census Bureau, with $1.392 billion for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account and $288.4 million for the Current Surveys and Programs account. Further, as Congress considers supplemental funding measures related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we ask you to consider providing the Census Bureau with additional funding and the ability to tap contingency funds in FY 2021.

As you know, the 2020 Census is underway with almost half of all American households having responded to date. A successful decennial census is paramount. Its data will inform congressional apportionment and the distribution of over $1 trillion of federal funding for healthcare, education, roads, housing, and other vital services.1 Further, over the next decade, the private sector will rely on 2020 Census data to make critical planning and investment decisions, while state and local government officials will use the data to meet the needs of their communities.

In FY 2021, the Census Bureau will need adequate resources to complete the 2020 Census process, including closing field offices, conducting the post-enumeration survey, and delivering statistical products. An orderly conclusion of any decennial census is challenging. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenge, forcing the Bureau to temporarily suspend field operations and to push the Non-Response Follow Up phase into the fall. Because of these schedule disruptions, the Administration asked Congress for statutory relief to push back its delivery of appointment counts to April 30, 2021, and redistricting data to the states to July 31, 2021.

We understand that the additional cost of all adjustments to the 2020 Census operational timeline, as well as direct COVID-related costs (such as PPE for field staff, extra technology to support more enumerators, COVID-sensitive advertising, etc.), could total as much as $1.5 billion. The Census Bureau intends to cover these additional costs by accessing its contingency fund. Census stakeholders are concerned that tapping the contingency fund will deplete the fund, leaving the Bureau unable to adequately address other emergencies that may jeopardize the 2020 Census, including natural disasters, IT failures, and, unfortunately, further waves of COVID-19.

The Census Bureau’s FY 2021 request does not account for the use of its FY 2020 contingency funds. We ask that the Committee provide flexibility to increase the Census Bureau’s discretionary appropriations in light of unplanned expenditures and to replenish the contingency fund to support the Bureau’s efforts to successfully complete the 2020 Census. It should be noted that census stakeholders have already identified several “enhancements,” such as targeted advertising and outreach materials in additional languages and increased and expanded Census Questionnaire Assistance capacity, that are needed to address the severe disruption the COVID-19 crisis has caused for successful conduct of the 2020 Census.

To properly conclude the 2020 Census and execute its other mandatory functions in FY 2021, such as the American Community Survey (ACS), data confidentiality tools and software development, and the redesign and relocation of three Census Bureau offices, we believe the Bureau needs no less than $1.681 billion in FY 2021. This amount is $9 million more than the Administration requested and would restore a proposed cut to the Survey of Income and Program Participation—a “crucial” dataset, according to the Bureau’s budget justification, valued by policymakers and analysts alike to estimate future costs and coverage of government programs and the economic well-being of Americans.2

We thank you for your continued support of the Census Bureau and the 2020 Census, especially during these difficult, unpredictable times.


Academic Pediatric Association

Advocates for Children of New Jersey

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Anthropological Association

American Library Association

American Pediatric Society

American Planning Association

American Sociological Association

American Statistical Association

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families

Asian American Federation

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC

Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs

Association of Population Centers

Association of Public Data Users (APDU)


Borough of State College

California Native Vote Project

Census Count Committee (CCC) of the Palm Beach County League of Women Voters

City of Hopkins, Minnesota

Coalition on Human Needs

Colorado Civic Engagement Roundtable

Common Cause

Consortium of Social Science Associations

Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics

Dakota County, MN

Equality California

Feeding America

First AME Church Seattle

Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda

Government Information Watch

Housing Action Illinois

Housing California

Insights Association

JS Research

KIDS COUNT in Delaware

MACS 2020 – Minnesotans for the American Community Survey & 2020 Census

Maine Children’s Alliance

Mecklenburg Latinx CCC

Mi Familia Vota Education Fund

Multicultural Council of America

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Project


NALEO Educational Fund

National Association for Business Economics

National Association of Home Builders

National Association of REALTORS®

National Association of Towns and Townships

National Community Development Association

National League of Cities

National WIC Association

NEO Philanthropy

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

New York Immigration Coalition


Northwest Harvest

Partnership for America’s Children

Pediatric Policy Council

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children

PFLAG National

Population Association of America

Public Justice Center


Research Advisory Services, Inc.

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT

SAGE Publishing

San Diego Grantmakers

Service Employees Internation

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Shen Research Organization

Shepherding the Next Generation

Silver State Equality-Nevada

Society for Pediatric Research

Society for Research in Child Development

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Southeast Michigan Census Council

Southern Echo Inc.

The Census Counts Campaign

The Children’s Partnership

The Florida Civic Engagement Table (FLCET)

The Gerontological Society of America

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The United States Conference of Mayors


Urban and Regional Information Systems Association

Virginia Civic Engagement Table

Voices for Utah Children

WKF Fund

1 New Report Says $1.5 Trillion in Federal Funding to States and Localities Annually Depends Upon Good Census Count. Nov. 18, 2019.

22 Page CEN-36. Census Bureau FY 2021 Congressional Budget Justification.

Download a copy of the Census Bureau (FY) 2021 Appropriations Letter