Ensure an Accurate 2020 Census; Allow Sufficient Time for Data Processing and Quality Assurance

The census isn’t over when the counting stops

Dear Senator,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Census Project, and the undersigned organizations, we write to underscore the importance and urgency of extending statutory reporting deadlines for apportionment and redistricting data, to give the U.S. Census Bureau sufficient time to thoroughly implement complex data processing activities and complete the most accurate 2020 Census possible. The bipartisan 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act (S. 4571) would extend the statutory deadlines for delivering apportionment and redistricting data to April and July 2021, respectively, as the administration requested in April 2020. We urge your support for timely action on the provisions in this bill.

The Census Bureau currently faces a December 31, 2020 statutory deadline to produce census numbers for congressional apportionment, and an April 1, 2021 deadline to transmit redistricting data to the states.i However, the coronavvirus pandemic disrupted or delayed literally every 2020 Census operation, leading the bureau to announce, in April, an extension of data collection through October 31, and to request — with the administration’s full support — additional time for data processing. Failure to push back the statutory reporting deadlines is forcing the Census Bureau to cut short critical 2020 Census data processing and quality check operations from the usual five months down to only two and a half months.

The government acknowledged in recent court proceedings related to the census timeline that the Census Bureau cannot finish data processing by December 31 if counting operations continued past early October. Independent agency overseers and senior bureau officials have said that a rushed timeline will jeopardize the quality and accuracy of final census data. For example, according to the Commerce Department Inspector General, “The streamlined data processing under the accelerated census plan poses a myriad of risks to accuracy and completeness.”

That is why Congress must, in accordance with its constitutional responsibility, set a clear path forward by pushing back the reporting deadlines. We urge you to do your part to ensure an accurate census and push back the statutory deadlines for delivering apportionment and redistricting data to April and July 2021, respectively, as the administration requested in April 2020.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on October 13 to grant the Trump administration’s request to halt census counting operations, the Census Bureau announced that data collection would end on October 15.It is important to note that “completing” the count of nearly 100 percent of homes does not mean the census is accurate.In fact, more people could be missed or counted in the wrong place in a rushed operation because the bureau must enumerate more households using less reliable information from neighbors, administrative records, and statistical methods. Now the bureau needs to undertake a painstaking, complex, and highly specialized series of activities to process and improve the accuracy of the raw data that it has collected from 150 million housing units and thousands of group facilities, and from people experiencing homelessness or living in transitory locations (e.g., RV parks).

Under the pre-pandemic 2020 Census timeline, that critical work would have taken five months. (The Census Bureau, with the administration’s support, requested six months for this phase in its COVID-adjusted operational plan,ii in recognition of the greater challenges to collecting accurate data in the field caused by pandemic-related delays and disruptions to every census operation.) The April 2020 COVID-adjusted timeline set an April 30, 2021 deadline for reporting apportionment data to the president and a July 31, 2021 deadline for sending redistricting data to the states. However, in late July, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asked bureau officials to develop an accelerated timeline that essentially compelled the Census Bureau to rush remaining counting operations and compress data processing and quality assurance. Data collection through self-response and the door-knocking operation was cut short by a month, with an end date of September 30 instead of the previously announced October 31. Data processing activities designed to take 153 days, before the pandemic derailed the original 2020 Census plan, would have to be done in 92 days under the accelerated plan in order to meet the current apportionment deadline.

A number of cities, counties, and stakeholder organizations challenged the accelerated timeline in court, resulting in a preliminary injunction that required data collection to continue beyond September 30; a federal appeals court upheld the longer data collection period, although the Supreme Court granted the administration’s motion for an emergency stay of that order. As a result of pandemic-related delays in data collection, and then the administration’s decision to drop its support for extending the reporting deadlines, the Census Bureau is left with woefully insufficient time to process, improve, and tabulate the data it has collected under already difficult circumstances.

The shortened timeline requires the bureau to “streamline” many components of post-data collection activities. Once data collection ends, much work remains to ensure the accuracy and quality of data that are used for apportionment, redistricting, and allocation of federal funds. These time-tested data processing and quality assurance activities involve, among other tasks, reconciling data collected through numerous methods; checking for incomplete responses; eliminating duplicate responses from the same household or for people counted at two different addresses; resolving inconsistent or erroneous enumerations; and applying statistical methods to fill in missing information. Agency and external experts also review preliminary tabulations several times to spot notable deviations from independent population estimates that might indicate processing mistakes. Each step must be done thoroughly before moving on to the next in case errors in processing require reruns that would be difficult to fix later.

A rushed census during a pandemic inevitably will lead to misallocation of political representation, government funding, and private sector investment in every state and community. If data processing operations are not thorough, communities most in need of resources to improve quality of life and standards of living will not receive their fair share for the next decade. Accurate data from the 2020 Census are critical to informed decision-making and resource allocation by the public and private sectors, including preparation for and recovery from natural disasters and public health crises.

Unless Congress steps in now to save the census, the loss to the nation for the next decade will be incalculable. Congress must provide the certainty of extended deadlines and ensure sufficient time for data processing and quality assurance in accordance with the Census Bureau’s high standards. If you have any questions about the issues raised in this letter, please contact Corrine Yu, Leadership Conference Senior Program Director, at yu@civilrights.org, or Mary Jo Hoeksema, The Census Project Co-Director, atmaryjo@popassoc.org.


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Census Project

AAFF South Florida Region

Academic Pediatric Association


Advancement Project California

Advocates for Children of New Jersey

African American Health Alliance

African Career, Education & Resource Inc.

Alameda County Complete Count Committee Alaska Census Working Group

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE)

Allston Brighton Health Collaborative

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Anthropological Association

American Association of People with Disabilities

American Association of University Women (AAUW)American Civil Liberties Union

American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

American Federation of Teachers American Indian Center American Library Association

American Pediatric Society

American Sociological Association

American Statistical Association

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)Americans for Indian Opportunity

Andrew Goodman Foundation



APIC South Puget Sound

Arab American Institute (AAI)Arizona Dream Act Coalition

Arizona Grantmakers Forum


Asian Coalition of Tallahassee, Inc.Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Asian American Federation

Asian American Federation of Florida

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Asian American Organizing Project

Asian Americans Advancing Justice -AAJC

Asian Americans Advancing Justice -Atlanta

Asian Americans Advancing Justice -Los Angeles

Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Asian Law Alliance

Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)

Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs

Association of Population Centers

Atlanta Pride Committee

Atlcounts Census 2020

Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation

Austin Asian Community Civic Coalition

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action

Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford

Brooklyn Community Foundation CAIR

California Native Vote Project Campaign Legal Center

Center for Disability Rights

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)Center for Popular Democracy

Chaldean American Ladies of Charity

Chambers Initiative

Child Welfare League of AmericaChild360Children’s Defense Fund -California Children’s Defense Fund -Minnesota

Children’s Defense Fund -New York

Children’s Defense Fund -Texas

Children’s Defense Fund (National Office)

Children’s Defense Fund Southern Regional Office Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio

Chinese Information and Service Center

Chuckanut Health Foundation

CICPCity of Detroit Complete Count

CommitteeCivic Nebraska

Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues

Coalition for a Strong Nebraska

Coalition of Communities of Color

Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees, and Communities of Color (CIRCC) Colorado Children’s Campaign

Colorado Civic Engagement Roundtable

Colorado Nonprofit Association

Common CauseCommon Cause Colorado

Common Cause Florida

Common Cause Illinois

Common Cause Minnesota

Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County (CCALAC)

Community Economic Development Center

Community Foundation Boulder County

Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley

Community Service Agency-Child and Family Services

Complete Count Committee–City of Magnolia, AR.

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces

Connecticut Community Foundation

Connecticut Council for Philanthropy

Consejo Hispano -Oregon

COOLJC Region Social Justice Economic & Racial Equality Commission

Cooper Foundation

Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center

Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS)

Crescent City Media Group/Center for Civic Action

D. C. Hunger Solutions

Destiny Community Development

DOC Project

Dreams United/Sueños Unidos

Dukes County Complete Count Committee

Electronic Privacy Information Center


Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)

End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund

Equal Rights Advocates

Equality California

Equality North Carolina

Fair Count Inc

Faith and Works Statewide Civic Engagement Collective

Faith in Action

Federation of Pediatric Organizations

Feminist Majority Foundation

First African Community Development Corporation

First Alaskans Institute First Peoples Fund

Florida Asian Services

Florida Asian Women Alliance

Florida Chinese Federation

Florida Civic Engagement Table

Florida Immigrant Coalition

Florida Philanthropic Network Food Research & Action Center

ForefrontFunders Together to End Homelessness

Futuro RGV, Inc.Girls Inc.Government Information Watch

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR)

Grantmakers of Oregon and SW Washington

Grantmakers of Western PA Gray Family Foundation

Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council

Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy

Highline Public Schools

Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER)

Hispanic Federation

Hispanics in Philanthropy

Hmong American Census Network

Hmong American Partnership

Housing Action Illinois

Houston in Action

Human Rights Campaign

Human Solutions

Immigrants’ Assistance Center, Inc. (IAC)Impact Fund

In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda

Indian Law Resource Center

Insights Association

Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford

Intercultural Development Research Association Interfaith Alliance

Iowa Citizen Action Network

Islamic Civic Society of America

Iu Mien Community Services

J.S. Research, Grants & Consulting

Japanese American Citizens League

Japanese American Citizens League, Cincinnati Chapter

Japanese American Citizens League -New York Chapter

Japanese American Citizens League, Twin Cities Chapter

Justice for Migrant Women Justice in Aging

Kansas City Indian Center

Kentucky Nonprofit Network

Kentucky Youth Advocates


Klamath Tribes

Labor Community Alliance of South Florida

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

Latino Center of the Midlands

Latino Community Foundation

Latino Community Fund of WA State

LatinoJustice PR LDEF

League of California Community Foundations

League of Women Voters of Brookhaven

League of Women Voters ofConnecticut

League of Women Voters of the United States

Legacy Foundation

Literacy Connects

MACS 2020 -Minnesotans for the ACS and 2020 Census

Madison Community Foundation

Main Street Project

Maine Association of Nonprofits

Maine Children’s Alliance

Maine Philanthropy Center

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

Mat-Su Health Foundation

Matthew Shepard Foundation

Metro Lansing Poor People’s Campaign

Miami Gardens Observer Inc

Michigan APALA

Michigan Nonprofit Association

Minnesota Council on Foundations

Minnesota State Demographic Center

Missouri Asian American Youth Foundation

Montana Nonprofit Association

Multnomah County


NAACP Washington Bureau

NAACP New Bedford Branch

NALEO Educational Fund

NANAY Inc (National Alliance to Nurture the Aged and Youth)

Nantucket Planning & Economic Development Commission

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)

National Association for Bilingual Education

National Association for Business Economics

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities

National Association of Jewish Legislators

National Association of Regional Councils

National Association of Social Workers National Center for Law and Economic Justice

National Center for Learning Disabilities

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality National Community Development Association

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)

National Council of Churches

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of Nonprofits

National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

National Down Syndrome Congress National Employment Law Project

National Equality Action Team (NEAT)

National Health Law Program

National League of Cities

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

National Low Income Housing Coalition

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National WIC Association

National Women’s Law Center

Native American Rights Fund

Native Ways Federation

NAVA Education Project and NM Native Census Coalition

NC Counts Coalition NEA

Nebraska Civic Engagement Table

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

New Bedford Complete Count Committee

New Bedford Democratic City Committee

New Bedford Free Public Library

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

New Mexico Voices for Children


Nonprofit Association of the Midlands

North Star Civic Foundation

Northern California Indian Development Council, Inc.

Northwest Health Foundation

NY Counts 2020NY Funders Alliance

OCA -Asian Pacific American Advocates

OCA -Asian Pacific American Advocates of Pittsburgh

OCA -South Florida Chapter

Ohio Women’s Alliance

Oklahoma Policy Institute One Arizona

OPAWL -Building AAPI Feminist Leadership in Ohio

Open Signal Community Media

Oregon Community Foundation


PACE, Inc.

Pacific Islander Health Board of WA

Pakistani American Voter Registration Initiative

Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon

Paterson Alliance

Pediatric Policy Council

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children

People For the American Way

PFLAG National

Philanthropy California

Philanthropy New York

Philanthropy Northwest
Phoenix Indian Center

PICO California

Pillsbury United Communities

Pima Community College

Pima County Government


Poligon Education Fund

Population Association of America

Power Coalition for Equity and Justice

Power of Families Program/CSC

Prison Policy Initiative

Public Justice Center


Renton Technical College

Research Advisory Services, Inc.Resilient Democracy



Rhode Island KIDS COUNT

Sagacious Works

Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center

SEIU Local 503 Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN)

SHK Global HealthSilicon Valley Community Foundation

Silver State Equality-Nevada

Silver State Voices

Social Eco Education (SEE-LA)

Society for Pediatric Research

South Asian Bar Association of Austin

South Asian Network

South Park Senior Center

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Spean Rajana

Street Roots


Texas Progressive Action Network

Thai Community Development Center

The Bingham Program

The Center at Sierra Health Foundation The Coalition for Social Justice

The Council of Michigan Foundations

The Fairview and Wood Village Census Access Center

The Funders Network

The Horner Foundation

The Libra Foundation

The Miami Foundation
The National Urban Indian Family Coalition

The New York Immigration Coalition

The Sikh Coalition Together SC

Together We Count

Town of Holly Hill SC Complete Census Count Committee

Tucson Unified School District

Tufts Health Plan Foundation

U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle


Union for Reform Judaism

United Philanthropy Forum

United States Conference of Mayors

United Way Association of SC

United Way Bay Area

United Way of Chester County

United Way of Greater New Bedford

United Way of the Columbia-Willamette

United Ways of Iowa

United We Dream

Urban and Regional Information Systems Association

Venice Family Clinic


Voices for Racial Justice

Vote New Bedford

Wallace H Coulter Foundation

Washington Census Alliance

We All Rise We Count Oregon

West Central Initiative

Whatcom Community Foundation

Wildfire: Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona

Women Alliance of Miami Dade & Broward, Inc.

Wyoming Community Foundation

YMCA of Greater New York

Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc.

YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts


i13 U.S.C. §141(b) & (c).

iiIssued April 13, 202