Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX-02) has reintroduced his legislation that would make response to the American Community Survey (ACS) voluntary instead of mandatory.

H.R. 1305 (H.R. 2255 in the last Congress) would make all the questions in the ACS "optional," except for "the name of the respondent," "contact information for the respondent," "the date of the response," and "the number of people living or staying at the same address."

The ACS is absolutely essential to the conduct of everyone's survey, opinion and marketing research in the U.S. Without this data as a statistical benchmark, no research study could produce statistically representative samples.

If the ACS were made voluntary, the response rate would plummet. A voluntary ACS would make the survey dramatically more expensive (at least $60-100 million more per year), more intrusive (more phone calls and door-knocking to try to build up the sample), and less representative (rural areas and small towns of less than 20,000 people will not be counted). ACS data is also used to allocate nearly half a trillion dollars a year in federal assistance (more than 2/3 of all federal grant funding). Without accurate ACS data, funding would be determined by the whims of federal bureaucrats, or the political needs of the White House.

In other Census news

  • Mick Mulvaney, a known opponent of the ACS and President Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget, was confirmed by the Senate on February 16, 2017.
  • I will be leading another group of Census Project coalition stakeholders on February 13 to meet with Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee members to advocate for Census and ACS funding. This follows our successful hill day with House and Senate freshmen on February 7.

See our 1-page position papers on the ACS and funding for the Census.


NewsCongressman Ted Poe legislation would cripple the American Community SurveyGovernment AffairsHoward Fienberg