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Census Vets Tapped for New Advisory Board

By Ed O'Keefe

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has tapped three Census Bureau veterans to serve as part-time advisers on operational, management and contracting issues while President Obama's nominee to serve as Census director awaits a full Senate confirmation vote.

The trio includes Dr. Kenneth Prewitt, who served as bureau director from 1998 to 2001 and was widely believed to be the leading candidate for the position until suddenly withdrawing earlier this year with little explanation.

Kenneth Prewitt
Former Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt will return in a temporary advisory role.

Obama instead nominated Dr. Robert Groves for the job in April, but his nomination has been held up ever since he cleared the Senate's government affairs panel in late May.

As Groves awaits a final vote, Locke will consult with Prewitt, National Opinion Research Center president John Thompson and former Census chief financial officer Nancy Potok. The trio will draft a list of suggestions for Locke, who will pass them off to Groves if he's confirmed.

The move, first mentioned in late April and not formally announced until today, has raised the ire of congressional Republicans who fear the White House is "back dooring" Prewitt into the director's job without formal congressional confirmation.

“By bringing in these outsiders with strong personalities, the Bureau runs the risk of having too many cooks in the kitchen challenging the actions of career civil servants who have worked for 18 months to ensure a successful 2010 Census," Kurt Bardella, spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said in a statement. Issa leads a House GOP Census Task Force established earlier this year to monitor the Obama administration's execution of next year's headcount.

"We are within ten months of Census Day, the last thing we need is a structural change that could jeopardize the success of the Decennial," Bardella added.

Commerce officials stress that the three are merely serving as advisers and that Groves "will run the agency with the independence and professionalism that the American people expect and the Constitution demands," according to a department statement set for release today. The consultants "will use their decades of experience to tell us just what steps require immediate attention to make the 2010 Census a success."

Groves will have to wait until at least July 6 for a Senate confirmation vote. The Senate approved a dozen other Obama nominees last Friday, but at least 30 other nominees are in limbo. Administration officials believe Republicans have blocked them out of anger with the Senate Judiciary Committee's timetable for Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination.

Prewitt currently serves as a Columbia University professor and ran NORC before serving as Census director. Thompson is a 27-year Census veteran who had responsibility for the management, operations, and methodology of the 2000 national headcount.

Potok, a 29-year Census veteran, served as principal associate director and CFO during the 2000 census and currently serves as chief operating officer of management consulting firm McManis & Monsalve Associates.

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 30, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Census  
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This census will be tainted by Rahm Emanuel and ACORN and thus unreliable.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | June 30, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

It's understandable that the GOP would fear the census, given their unfamiliarity with things like numbers and data. Did I mention the obviously GOP-unfavorable long-term demographic trends yet?

The way the census should be done is simple. Give Halliburton a no-bid contract to collect the information, and have Diebold validate the numbers.

Posted by: micron26 | June 30, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

The statement by Rep. Issa's spokesman that notes" "...the actions of career civil servants who have worked for 18 months to ensure a successful 2010 Census..." reveals just how little he knows about the Census and its operations. If planning for the 2010 Population Census started just 18 months ago, we would not have a 2010 Census at all! Years, not months, of careful planning must take place for an activity as complex as the Population Census to be successful.

Posted by: Geographer | June 30, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Hey Tupac, you are ill-informed by Cong. Bachmann. ACORN is only involved in the Census Partnership program. There are thousands of other groups in this program, whose purpose is to get the word out to the public on the Decennial Census. They will have NOTHING to do with collecting data.

Posted by: ggilby1 | June 30, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Hussein "ACORN Lover" Obama will have to accept the fact that Americans, you know... the ones with American citizenship, will REFUSE to fill out that worthless census.

Let them come to our doors. Let them fine us... They cant get us all! IMO if they want to know more than how many people live there, they will be out of luck.

... They could have at least asked if the people were LEGAL CITIZENS...

Posted by: indep2 | June 30, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I worked on the 2000 Census, at Census HQ. What I've heard is that the Bushies were unprofessional and looking to skip a lot of inner-city & homeless folks as well as spending a lot of money on electronic devices that left no paper trail and were just not ready for prime-time.

If you read the Constitution, you will see that representation in the House is not based on number of Citizens, but number of "Persons". You may not like it, I may not like it, but that is the rule, "Persons", including citizens, and aliens both legal or illegal.

Posted by: cyberfool | June 30, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

f you read the Constitution, you will see that representation in the House is not based on number of Citizens, but number of "Persons". You may not like it, I may not like it, but that is the rule, "Persons", including citizens, and aliens both legal or illegal.

nice deflection... you are learning the communist arts well. :)

The problem with your argument is that the US Constitution doesnt specify legal status anywhere... Which is why re-defining the 14th amendment is so critical in an age of unfettered migrations over borders...

So with that in mind, you say that it doesnt specify citizenship status, Ok ill give you that.

It also doesnt specify the other 99.99% of questions that they have on the form either.... It only specifies ONE piece of information to be collected as you pointed out earlier in your post.

So, with the fine of $5000/per question you refuse to answer, especially when those questions and stipulations are also not in the constitution, what would you suggest we do to get an accurate count of people here in the US without succumbing to jail time or large fines by protecting your right to personal privacy? Do they really need to know what time you go work and how many bathrooms you have?

Personally, I plan to willfully ignore it indefinitely. If they cant find illegals, they wont find me as soon as I stop paying taxes...

Posted by: indep2 | June 30, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

indep2, through all the Congresses and the Supreme Courts that have met since 1789, exactly NONE has taken your position that only one question is constitutionally allowed. From the very first census, more than one question has been asked, without being overturned. Whose legal advice should I go with: that of former Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, magna cum laude Stanford, 3rd of 102 in her Stanford law class, or yours? She wrote, in 1999 in Department of Commerce v. House of Representatives, that the Census is the linchpin of federal statistics of several sorts.

Posted by: reedlandj | July 6, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

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