In 2017, while actively preparing for the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau released a working paper that found that more than $675 billion in federal funds were distributed in whole or in part using Decennial Census Programs data in fiscal year 2015.
The amount of federal funds distributed using Decennial Census Programs data is frequently used to illustrate the value of accurate Census Bureau data to the public to encourage timely survey and census responses; therefore, the Census Bureau continues to evaluate how vital the data are to federal assistance programs across the country and the continued importance of responding to the decennial census as well as the American Community Survey (ACS).
For this analysis, the Census Bureau built on the previous working paper and, in partnership with the George Washington Institute for Public Policy at George Washington University and Dr. Andrew Reamer, documents an updated estimate of the allocation of federal funds distributed in whole or in part using Decennial Census Programs data.
This paper finds that 353 assistance listings used Decennial Census Programs data in whole or in part to distribute more than $2.8 trillion in funds during fiscal year 2021. It is important to note, the Census Bureau itself does not distribute any federal funds, nor determine the amount or allocation of federal funding for any program, nor does the Census Bureau determine how data are used by federal programs or in any particular funding formulas. However, the Decennial Census Programs data are often a critical information source for entities to distribute and determine federal funding for hundreds of assistance programs.
The work of the Census Bureau is valuable to an endless number of uses and users. Participating in a Census Bureau census or survey can make a difference in the amount of federal funding federal assistance programs allocate across the country. While the inventory of programs that use Decennial Census Programs data shifts each fiscal year, this paper demonstrates how critical the data can be to the infrastructure of our communities.