Congress Questions Census Readiness

Congress Questions Census Readiness

(AP) -- With the start of the 2020 census just a month away for most U.S. residents, Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham is going to Capitol Hill to update lawmakers about the agency's readiness for the federal government's largest peacetime operation.

Lawmakers on Wednesday planned to question Dillingham about whether the bureau is finding enough workers to hire and about its outreach efforts to encourage every person to participate, particularly in minority communities.

The chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is holding the hearing, said she worries about whether the bureau is ready.

"I am deeply concerned that the Census Bureau is not ready for prime time, and that millions of people in minority, immigrant, and rural communities are in danger of not being counted in the 2020 Census," Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York said in a statement.

The 2020 Census started last month in a remote part of rural Alaska. But the rest of the nation won't be able to start answering the questionnaire until the middle of next month. For the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau is encouraging most participants to fill out the form online, although they can still answer the questions by telephone or by returning a paper form.

The 2020 count will help determine the allocation of $1.5 trillion in federal spending and how many congressional seats each state gets.