“We are not behind,” Dr. Steven Dillingham, director of the Census Bureau, said Wednesday.
With just weeks to go until the 2020 census is underway, the director is telling lawmakers not to worry.
But two officials from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office said while the Census Bureau’s early operations are mostly on schedule, the census is already behind on some of its goals – especially recruiting enough census takers.
“I’m from GAO and I’m paid to worry on your behalf,” Christopher Mihm said.
“We’re sort of in a pressure cooker of time,” Nick Marinos from the Government Accountability Office added.
Lawmakers from both parties pressed hard during a three-hour hearing for assurances that the census will count everyone in 2020, especially minority and rural communities.
“I need it this week, are you willing to do that?” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) said.
Meadows pressed the director of the Census Bureau for a list of community partners that can help get the word out to hard-to-reach areas.
It’s a list lawmakers asked for at the end of last year.
“You got people behind you, turn around and ask them right now because we’re going to wait for an answer,” he added.
And Missouri Congressman Lacy Clay asked the bureau to make sure it is finding ways to get the word out to minority communities areas that he said are historically under-counted.
“It is crucial that the bureau now work to address the historic issue of fully and accurately counting the black community,” Clay (D-MO) said.
The census officially begins April 1 but preliminary population counts have already begun.