Skip to Main Content
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on National Statistics
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Task Force on the 2020 Census

Letter Report

2020 Census


Read the Task Force's Letter


In response to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) recent request for public comments on the 2020 Census, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on National Statistics’ Task Force on the 2020 Census today issued a letter report and submitted it as a public comment to DOC. 
The Task Force concluded that DOC’s recent decision to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 census is inconsistent with the “proper performance of the functions” of the Census Bureau. The Task Force noted that the American Community Survey already meets the stated need for citizenship data and that adding the question without proper testing impairs the quality of the 2020 census as a whole. Furthermore, adding the citizenship question and using the method described in the Secretary of Commerce’s memo and the Census Bureau’s review would create a new population register. Such a register has unclear statistical purposes, and it could not under current law be used for nonstatistical purposes, such as law enforcement against individuals, and still comport with the Bureau’s mission.
While citizenship is an important public policy topic and worthy of high-quality data collection, adding this question to the 2020 census risks undermining the credibility of the Census Bureau and the decennial census, the trust of its respondents, and the independence of the Census Bureau’s professional staff to develop, produce, and disseminate objective information while protecting confidentiality of respondents.

Task Force Members

JAMES HOUSE, (Chair) Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
FRANCINE BLAU, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
MARY ELLEN BOCK, Department of Statistics, Purdue University (emerita)
ANNE C. CASE, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
MICHAEL CHERNEW, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School
JANET CURRIE, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
DONALD DILLMAN, Department of Sociology and Social and Economic Sciences Research Center,
   Washington State University
CONSTANTINE GATSONIS, Department of Biostatistics and Center for Statistical Sciences, Brown University
ROBERT M. GROVES, Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Department of Sociology,
   Georgetown University
THOMAS MESENBOURG, Retired, formerly U.S. Census Bureau
SARAH NUSSER, Office of the Vice President for Research and Department of Statistics, Iowa State University
COLM O’MUIRCHEARTAIGH, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago
ROBERTO RIGOBON, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
JUDITH A. SELTZER, Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles

CNSTAT Home About CNSTAT CNSTAT Members CNSTAT Staff CNSTAT Mission Other Sites of Interest News and Events Upcoming Events CNSTAT News Public Seminars and Symposia Our Work Approaches to Estimating the Prevalence of Human Trafficking in the US Challenges and New Approaches for Protecting Privacy in Federal Statistical Programs Contingent Work and Alternate Work Arrangements Developing Indicators of Educational Equity Transparency and Reproducibility of Federal Statistics for the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics Using Models to Estimate Hog Production Workshop on Improving the American Community Survey Workshop on Social Science Modeling for Big Data in the World of Machine Learning Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency People, Projects, and Publications 2018-2019 Presentations from Meetings and Workshops Publications CNSTAT Reports Principles and Practices (P&P) Work With Us Our Study Process Study Process Brochure Getting to Know the Committee Process Overview for Sponsors Guide for Study Sponsors