More independence for the Census Bureau?
Amid the flurry of activity on Capitol Hill this week, a bill passed the Senate that could soon bolster the U.S. Census Bureau's spot in the political pecking order.
Senators unanimously approved a bill this week that would give the Census director a five-year term overlapping the four-year presidential terms, setting the job on a timetable consistent with the ten-year cycle of planning and implementing the constitutionally-mandated decennial census.
The Census Bureau is one of several elements of the Commerce Department, and the bill would change the Census Bureau's reporting structure by having the top census official report directly to the commerce secretary, instead of lower-level assistant secretaries.
Finally, in a nod to lawmakers concerned about potential waste and mismanagement of the decennial census, the bill requires the Census Bureau to test and implement an online option for Americans to respond to the 2020 Census.
All seven living former census directors support the measure, which is sponsored by Sens. Thomas E. Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
"By working with our colleagues across the aisle, we were able to enact several common sense reforms that will strengthen the Census Bureau and enhance our ability to conduct a thorough, cost effective, and accurate Census," Carper said.
The bill "helps lay the groundwork for conducting cost-effective oversight that will give Congress and the densus director the ability to better manage this Constitutional responsibility," Coburn said.
The bill is likely to be considered next week before the scheduled conclusion of the lame-duck session, according to House Democratic aides. The lead House sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), had introduced legislation that would have established the Census Bureau as an independent agency, but the bill passed by the Senate is considered more politically viable.
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below
• Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama kicks his smoking habit as he plans to meet with Bill Clinton on Friday. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says Thursday's failed "don't ask" vote leaves the military "at mercy of courts." Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. blasts a new bill about Gitmo detainees. Obama's pick to serve as deputy attorney general has been waiting since July for a Senate confirmation vote. A long road for the Justice Department lawyer defending the new health-care law. Citigroup hires former OMB director Peter R. Orszag.
• Major setback for 'don't ask' repeal: The Senate on Thursday dealt another punch - this one potentially fatal - to the legislative effort to end the military's ban on gays in the military.
• For-profit colleges getting millions in federal aid for military: The Education Department is considering proposed regulations to force for-profit colleges to show that their graduates obtain "gainful employment."
• EPA delays tougher rules on emissions: It's retreating on new rules governing smog and toxic emissions from industrial boilers -- as it adjusts to a changed political dynamic in Washington.
• FAA steps up Boeing checks: Aviation regulators wants to keep a closer eye on more than 600 Boeing Co. 757 jetliners worldwide, prompted by a recent in-flight incident that left roughly a one-foot hole in the fuselage of an American Airlines plane.
• FBI asks panel to delay report on anthrax inquiry: The request prompted a congressman to say that the bureau "may be seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure" a scientific panel "to reach a conclusion desired by the bureau."
• Small-business contracts under scrutiny from several federal agencies: Contracting specialists and government officials said the flurry of enforcement efforts signals a shift toward more oversight of contracts by the Obama administration in the wake of reports about questionable practices.
• Second IT program canceled amid review: The Office of Management and Budget has canceled a Department of Homeland Security information technology program, making it the second termination in a broad review of troubled federal IT projects.
• U.S. agents raid offices of Afghan, Iraq security contractor: Federal agents raided the Tennessee headquarters of a security contractor involved in Afghanistan and Iraq on Wednesday on warrants that officials said were related to alleged violations of defense-related export controls.
• IRS considers taxpayer amnesty program: But taxpayers wouldn't get the same deal as those who came in under the original disclosure program.
• More U.S. rail funds for 13 states as 2 reject aid: Ohio and Wisconsin's loss of $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money for rail projects will be California, Florida and 11 other states' gain.
| December 10, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Census, Eye Opener
Save & Share: Previous: 'Don't ask, don't tell' vote fails: Reaction
Next: Four soldiers hitch a deluxe ride home with Gates