House Panel Gets Warning on Getting an Accurate Census
Gribbin, August, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Witnesses before a House subcommittee yesterday warned the coming effort to count the U.S. population is doomed unless political infighting stops and past census errors are remedied.
But as contradictory testimony at the hearing showed, no one is yet certain how to accomplish either task.
Rep. Dan Miller, the Florida Republican who chairs the Government Reform and Oversight Comittee's subcommittee on the census, said the Government Accounting Office has warned Congress that the Census Bureau was about to embark on what he said will be the "largest statistical experiment in history."
He accused the Clinton administration of political maneuvering in backing a Census Bureau plan to use flawed statistical sampling in 2000. He said sampling did not work in 1990 and will not work in 2000.
Rep. Tom Sawyer, the Ohio Democrat who headed the subcommittee charged with oversight of the 1990 census, said it was important "not to politicize" the 2000 census. He indicated he felt the Census Bureau's plan for sampling will work.
Then Rep. Tom Petri, Wisconsin Republican, agreed it was vital to detach the Census taking from politics, but argued against the Census Bureau's plan to use statistical sampling.
Under provisions of the Constitution, the government must take a head count of all Americans every 10 years. The last census in 1990 turned out to be controversial and complex, and the coming head count figures to be equally or more intricate.
Census results have far-reaching impact on elections at all governmental levels and on industry, businesses, schools and various population groups. As the population grows, greater numbers of people are affected by the results and it becomes more difficult to locate and count them.
Even before results of the 1990 census were complete, various communities sued the Census Bureau, claiming there were errors in the counting and in projected efforts to remedy those errors. …