My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Who was running the show during the Clinton years? Nobody!

The Secretary of Commerce is the person ultimately responsible for the U.S. Census. The preparation for the 2000 Census was the responsibility of Bill Clinton’s administration, and the ultimate headcount was also his responsibility. Many people forget that even though George W. Bush was elected in 2000, he did not come to power until 2001, long after the 2000 Census was completed. After Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown’s tragic death in an air crash in the Balkans in 1996, the Commerce Department was run by a succession of four different individuals: Mickey Kantor (1996-1997), William M. Daley (1997-2000), Ron Mallett (acting head 2000), and Norman Minetta (2000-2001).

With so many people running the show, it’s unsurprising that the count from the 2000 headcount is most likely highly inaccurate, as there were poor PR/advertising/outreach efforts to encourage participation in the census and a noticeable lack of technology/computers used by the individuals who collected data in 2000.

Only now is the Census Bureau making efforts to combat the problems that started ten years ago. For instance: In 2000, one in six households received a long-form version of the census, which contained 53 questions spread over 40 pages. In 2010, all households will receive a simple 10-question form. In addition to Spanish (now standard on all forms alongside English), the census questionnaire will be available in Chinese, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese.

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