Senator Hutchison Presses Commerce Nominee Locke To Ensure a Fair and Open Census Process

Emphasizes That DTV Deadline Will Not Be Extended Again

March 18, 2009




WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today pressed President Barack Obama’s nominee for Commerce Secretary, former Washington Governor Gary Locke, for his assurance that the census process would remain transparent and non-politicized.  She also noted that her support for a delay of the digital television (DTV) transition was based on one-time extension of the deadline from February 17 to June 12, 2009 and that it should not be postponed again.

“There has been a lot of discussion about the oversight of the 2010 census and I have concerns about reports that the Administration might insert itself into the management of the census,” said Senator Hutchison.  “I believe the process must remain transparent and non-politicized. When I met with you earlier this month, we talked about that and I was pleased to hear your position that the census will stay in the Department of Commerce and it will be handled on a professional basis.”

“DTV is also a huge undertaking and this committee with the leadership of the Chairman, actually extended the deadline from February to June,” Senator Hutchison said.  “However, we cannot extend that deadline again.  The NTIA has been given additional funding and the number of consumers on the waitlist to receive coupons has diminished, but there are still many out there and I will certainly want to see how you plan to run the NTIA to assure that DTV is ready to transition in June.”

The following is an excerpt from the question and answer portion of the hearing:

Senator Hutchison: Governor Locke, I want to have a clear statement on the record regarding the census. When we talked, you said that you believed that it must be absolutely accurate and that you believe in counting actual individuals at the correct locations and did not think that we should use statistical sampling.  Is that your position?

The Honorable Gary F. Locke: The Supreme Court has made it very clear that statistical sampling is not permissible for apportionment purposes. That is the law. We will enforce the law. That is the position plain and simple.  Statistical sampling is used with respect to determine accuracy, to determine whether or not we need to do a better outreach with specific communities for parts of the country.  And in fact we also have a long form and a short form that gets sent in to some of the demographics detailing and profiling of the American population of American families.  That is a method of sampling, just to find out income levels and et cetera et cetera. But again, for the purposes of the Census, as we all understand it, the apportionment, statistical sampling will not be used by the Department of Census. 

Senator Hutchison: Thank you. Governor, we talked about the census and we talked about the Supreme Court ruling that you agree and will comply with the law. Just one other point on that and that is the Supreme Court did not specifically mention the intrastate redistricting. What you have said is, on the record, that you want people to be counted one-by-one in the right place as well. That would affect the intrastate redistricting as well. Is it your view that for intrastate redistricting purposes, every person is counted in their appropriate place, and that this function of the census should be adhered to, the person in their proper place counted so that intrastate redistricting is not going be subject to data using statistical sampling?

The Honorable Gary F. Locke:  It is my understanding that there are no plans in the Department of Commerce or the Census Bureau to use any type of statistical sampling with respect to population count.

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