On May 9, 2012, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the appropriations bill to eliminate the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS produces the annual treasure trove of data that tells us so much of what we know about ourselves as a nation and informs decisions about so many things, including, in painful irony, the judicious expenditure of federal funds. While the Senate is not expected to go along with eliminating the ACS, there is concern that a plan to make participation in the survey voluntary might emerge as a compromise, weakening the data while driving up the cost of its collection.
Census Director Robert Groves appears in this video to make a strong case for the ACS, claiming that the measure to eliminate it “devastates the nation’s statistical information about the status of the economy and the larger society.” He concludes: “Modern societies need current, detailed social and economic statistics; the US is losing them.”
I was critical of the Census Bureau for serving up the Statistical Abstract of the United States as a sacrifice to the austerity gods in its 2012 budget request, but it’s good to see the agency fighting for the survival, and integrity, of the ACS.