Coalition to House: Don’t compromise the American Community Survey!

by Leah Sakala, March 6, 2012

Census Project ACT letter

The Prison Policy Initiative joined more than 25 other Census Project organizations to send a letter to House congressional leaders in opposition to a recent proposal to make participation in the American Community Survey voluntary rather than mandatory.

The American Community Survey provides vital information to public and private sector decision-makers alike, and the coalition letter warns that making participation in the survey voluntary would dramatically compromise the data by decreasing the response rate and increasing the expense.

The Prison Policy Initiative typically focuses on how the Census Bureau’s method of counting people in prison in the decennial Census negatively affects the redistricting process. The expertise we developed for that project has led to a deeper appreciation for the importance of other Census Bureau data products. We’ve learned just how important the American Community Survey is, so we joined the Census Project in this important letter.

The letter concludes:

[W]e urge your subcommittee to view any proposal to make the American Community Survey voluntary with great caution. Such a change would have serious adverse consequences that could leave the nation in a precarious decision-making vacuum and hinder its economic recovery and future growth.

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