Monday, September 28, 2020

Obama to Nominate Census Director

President Obama intends to nominate University of Michigan professor Robert M. Groves today to serve as the next Census director. The long-anticipated announcement was made after Commerce Secretary Gary Locke completes his first full week on the job.

If confirmed, Groves faces looming managerial and political concerns surrounding the 2010 Census. The bureau received $ 1 billion in stimulus funding to help prepare for the census and will devote up to $250 million for advertising and outreach programs to help increase participation levels among traditionally undercounted groups, mostly minorities in urban areas.

The Census Bureau is part of the Commerce Department and the director will report to an undersecretary who in turn reports to the commerce secretary.

Locke said Monday, “We’re going to make sure that the Census Bureau has the independent leadership it deserves and the professional oversight that Americans demand.”

The Secretary also stressed that personal information collected by the Census will remain confidential, a concern of several groups.

Groves has much survey experience, as he served as the bureau’s associate director from 1990 to 1992 and currently is director of the UM’s Survey Research Center. In his work he has researched why people participate in statistical surveys, worked to develop surveys with lower non-response errors and studied how data is collected for surveys.

According to a congressional aide familiar with the Census, Groves has  “bulletproof scientific credentials” and is “really highly regarded by his peers as a low-key, determined guy who’s been really focused on reducing error in survey research for his whole career.”

Groves is a former prison guard in Vermont, and earned his bachelor’s from Dartmouth College, and later a masters and P.h.D.  in sociology from the University of Michigan.

Detroit Free Press

Washington Post