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CONTACT: Morrie Goodman/Debra Silimeo
Commerce Secretary William M. Daley today issued a proposed regulation that delegates to the Census Bureau the decision whether or not to release statistically corrected figures from the Census 2000 enumeration.
"The Census Bureau professionals, who have worked diligently to give the American people the best possible census, are the ones who can best appreciate whether the process meets their own stringent expectations and whether such data should be released to the states for redistricting and other non-apportionment purposes as required by law," Secretary Daley said.
Under the law, statistical methods may not be used to tabulate the population to apportion the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the Census Act requires the Secretary to authorize the use of modern statistical methods, if "feasible" for all other releases of census data.
"We want to make sure that when this important decision is made, it is made by the experts and based on sound, statistical science," Secretary Daley said. "Politics shouldn't play any part in this decision, and this regulation is a way to ensure that it won't."
The decision will be based on a review of the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (A.C.E.), a large national survey now underway that checks the accuracy and completeness of Census 2000 results. The survey is designed to reveal the extent to which various segments of the population were missed in the census enumeration process. A total of 314,000 households across the nation will be involved in A.C.E., doubling the households covered in the 1990 Post Enumeration Survey (PES).
The decision-making process will be open in nature. An already-established committee of distinguished senior career professionals will study the results of A.C.E. and make its recommendation to the director which then will be made public. After considering the recommendation, the director will make the final decision.
While noting the significant improvements since the 1990 PES, Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt said, "The Census Bureau will not release corrected redistricting data until it has verified that A.C.E. was operationally and technically sound."
In a document also released today, "Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation: Statement on the Feasibility of Using Statistical Methods to Improve the Accuracy of Census 2000," Prewitt notified the Secretary that using statistical methods to provide the most accurate census figures is feasible. That statement concludes that the decision whether to release statistically corrected data for the states to use in the redistricting process will be made before the statutory deadline for transmitting these tabulations, April 1, 2001.
The regulation issued by Secretary Daley will appear in the Federal Register and will be available 45 days for comment.