Census to decide on sampling

The Associated PressApril 9, 2002 

WASHINGTON -- The Census Bureau is nearing a decision on whether to use adjusted census figures to help dole out about $185 billion in federal assistance to states and cities.

The federal government uses population-based formulas to distribute the money to Medicaid, foster care and other social service programs. Essentially, the more people a place has, the more money it is eligible to receive.

Bureau officials must determine whether statistical sampling produces more accurate population figures than the raw head count.

Most Democrats and civil rights groups say it does, specifically for minority groups and inner-city residents typically missed by the head count.

Generally, Republicans contend that an adjustment could create more mistakes in the 2000 Census, which had a lower net national undercount than the 1990Census.

The bureau was to issue a recommendation next week to Commerce Secretary Don Evans, who would make the final decision. Commerce oversees the Census Bureau.

But Evans will be in Russia next week for his first foreign trade mission. Instead, a committee of senior census staffers will issue a recommendation Monday to Acting Census Director William Barron, who is scheduled to announce his decision Wednesday.

The Bush administration earlier this year recommended against using adjusted data to redraw congressional, state and local political districts.

The bureau then cited too many discrepancies between the sampled figures, the raw count and a third set of data used to measure accuracy, and said it had too little time to study the issue.

New Orleans Mayor Mark Morial, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said an undercount deprived New Orleans of up to $60 million in funding in the 1990s.

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