Assessing Miscounts in the 2020 Census

The decennial census is foundational to our democratic society. Census population counts guide appropriations and federal funding allocations, congressional redistricting, state and local budgets, and data-driven business and research decisions. Yet despite its importance, the 2020 Census faces unprecedented threats to its accuracy. Since 2010, decennial census preparations have faced (1) underfunding leading to scaled-back testing and outreach operations, (2) innovations that promise efficient implementation but remain undertested and underdeveloped, and (3) the last-minute introduction of a citizenship question. For this reason and others, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has added the 2020 Census to its high-risk list of government activities in jeopardy in the coming years.