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Seven former Census Bureau directors, as well as hundreds of members of the statistical community and Census Bureau employees, witnessed Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke publicly swear in Robert M. Groves today as the 23rd director of the U.S. Census Bureau.
President Obama nominated Groves to head the bureau in April. The Senate confirmed him on July 13.
Groves takes over the nation's preeminent statistical agency just eight months before Census Day -- April 1, 2010. The 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States, and the numbers are used to apportion congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year and to make decisions about what community services to provide.
"President Obama knew when he nominated Dr. Groves that the job of directing the 2010 Census demanded someone with outstanding academic credentials and management skills -- and as it turns out, patience," Locke said. "We're depending on Bob bringing his expertise and commitment to sound science to the biggest civilian project this nation undertakes."
Groves is the former director of the University of Michigan Survey Research Center, and he was an associate director of the Census Bureau from 1990 to 1992. He is the author of seven books and scores of scientific articles concerning the improvement of surveys.
"In a matter of months, we'll begin the national operation we call the decennial census," said Groves at Census Bureau headquarters in Suitland, Md. "It is a time-honored tradition. There is no other federal agency charged with such a large undertaking. It is awesome in every bit of its aspects."
The first census -- mandated by the Constitution -- was conducted in 1790, counting nearly 4 million people. A temporary census office conducted the count every 10 years, with the Census Bureau becoming a permanent agency in 1902. The latest census in 2000 counted more than 280 million. The 2010 Census expects to count more than 310 million residents.
The former Census Bureau directors in attendance were Vincent Barabba (1973-1976 and 1979-1981), John Keane (1984-1987), Barbara Everitt Bryant (1989-1993), Martha Farnsworth Riche (1994-1998), Kenneth Prewitt (1998-2001), Louis Kincannon (2002-2008) and Steve Murdock (2008-2009).