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 Census Advisory Committee on

Race and Ethnicity Holds Second Meeting

The NiLP Network on Latino Issues (March 18, 2013)


The Census Bureau's National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and other Populations held its second meeting on March 140inh at Census headquarters in Suitland, Maryland. This new advisory group, which was established last year by the Census Bureau under then Census Director Robert Groves to replace its Race and Ethnic Advisory Committees and the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, is composed of 32 members and charged with advising the Bureau on a wide range of issues related to its services and products including the decennial Census and beyond. The committee is chaired by Paul Watanabe, director, Institute for Asian American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston; and its vice chair is Kirsten Martin, assistant professor, School of Business, George Washington University.


The establishment of this advisory panel was controversial in the Latino community because of its 32 members, only three Latinos were appointed. At this second meeting, it was announced that two of the three Latinos would be term-limited off of the committee in July, leaving only one. According to its charter, the committee is required only to appoint 2 new members from the Latino community and might have space for an additional Latino, meaning that as the panel enters its second year of operation, it will only have 3 to 4 Latino members. In December, members of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) met with top Census officials to discuss this problem of Latino underrepresentation on this panel and on the Bureau's staff, but it appears that there will be little change in this regard this coming year.


Although making up 15 percent of the civilian labor force, Latinos only comprise 7 percent of Census staff, as of November. African-Americans are 19 percent, Asians 4 percent, American Indians 1 percent, and Pacific Islanders less than 1 percent of the people working at Census (these racial categories include Hispanics). Of those Census employees at the top levels (grades 13-SES), Latinos only make up 4 percent.


The National Advisory Committee has organized itself under three working groups:


 The use of administrative records and third party data use in the 2020 Census: Convener is Barry Steinhardt, chair, Friends of Privacy USA; staffed by Amy O'Hara, Assistant Center Chief, Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications at


 Race and Hispanic origin questions research: Convener is Linda Marc, education and curriculum development director, Harvard School of Public Health; staffed by Karen Humes, Assistant Division Chief, Population Division at


 Small populations in the American Community Survey: Convener is Sela Panapasa, assistant research scientist, University of Michigan; staffed by Tasha Boone, Assistant Division Chief, American Community Survey Office  at  


The bulk of this meeting focused on the basic organization of these working groups and outlining their agendas for the coming year. Part of this discussion included ways to include outside experts and stakeholders to advise the working groups.


Despite this being the focus, the discussion among the committee members kept returning to the issue of the lack of diversity on the Census Bureau staff. At one point, one of the members suggested that the Bureau consider establishing a Census Bureau Workforce Diversity Working Group of the committee. Barry Steinhardt also raised the issue of the Census Bureau plans to count prisoners in their original residences. In addition, the issue of how to count the gay and lesbian population was also raised. 


Other issues discussed included:  


  An overview of staffing and budgetary developments at the Census Bureau by Thomas Mesenbourg, Jr., Senior Advisor Performing the Duties of the Director (aka, Acting Director), which is included a discussion of  proposed legislation in the Congress to make the American Community Survey (ACS) voluntary.

 A update on developments at the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, by Mark Doms, Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs.

 Ways to Optimize Self-Response in the 2020 Census.

 2020 Census research planning update. 

 Census Data Tool Demonstration on the new American FactFinder and Mobile/Web Apps (the new Population Clock, Easy Stats and America's Economy).  


The National Advisory Committee will have 9 vacancies in July for 3-year terms. Details on applying or nominating candidates will appear in the Federal Register in April and appointments will be made in August by the Census Director. The three Latinos currently on the advisory committee are: Altagracia Ramos, Commissioner, Ohio Civil Rights Commission; Jacinto Pablo Juarez, Dean Emeritus, Laredo Community College; and Angelo Falc�n, President, National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP). Juarez and Falc�n's terms are up in July.


In their closing discussion, concerns were expressed by the members about the effectiveness of the advisory committee's mission, scope and operations. They requested more input in the setting of the committee's meeting agenda and greater access to Census subject matter expert staff on the areas of the committee's work to make the working group's more productive.


The next full meeting of the National Advisory Committee is scheduled for October 17-18, 2013.  


For further information:

Jeri A. Green


Census Advisory Committee Office 


fax: 301-763-8609