The announcement on Wednesday was expected, and the key question is whether the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce will present the figures before President Donald Trump steps down on January 20.
The Census Bureau said in a statement, “It plans to provide a complete and accurate state census by early 2021, which is as close as possible to the statutory deadline.”
It is unclear whether the Trump administration has enough data to implement it – or if it does, enough data to influence how many seats each state gets.
If the numbers are made up after Trump leaves office, President-elect Joe Biden is not expected to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count.
In a statement released Wednesday, the Census Bureau continues to process data collected from surveys conducted online, on paper, by phone and at the start of the term.
Wilbur Rose, the commerce secretary who oversees the Census Bureau, pushed officials to complete the count by December 31 – even after officials explained to him that the truncated schedule would put many states at risk of incomplete numbers.
The final schedule gave the census officials half the time they had planned to complete the complex tasks of processing the data.
Internal documents obtained in early December by a forum committee investigating the Trump administration’s handling of the census threaten to delay the calculation of data issues and “highly complex” issues until February. The director of the Census Personnel staff did not explain the problems, but said they “occurred in past censuses”.
Even before the data issues arose, the top census official who manages the 2020 census said the bureau was targeted to be completed “in the first or second week of January.”
In addition to the political controversy, it is difficult to conclude the number that critics have argued, and the calculation of the country’s population is complicated by the corona virus epidemic.
The Commerce Department Inspector General on Wednesday cut corners with a quality control process by the Census Bureau and questioned the results for “more than 500,000” homes. One reason why the Census Bureau did not complete quality checks was because of the shortened schedule.
Although there were no penalties for missing the deadline, Judicial Attorney Brad Rosenberg said in a September court hearing that missing the deadline could be a reason for Congress to reject the numbers.
“If the Census Bureau submits its calculations in January … Congress will still accept that figure,” Rosenberg said. “But this is also possible – I do not represent Congress, so I do not know the answer to this – they should not do so.
That result was not expected.
The delay and haste in preparing the numbers used to divide the Congress seats is expected to have a ripple effect and create further delays.
After compiling the partition figures, the Census Bureau turns its attention to compiling massive data files used by state governments to draw up new congressional districts.
For sharing, only the total number of people in each state is required. But redistribution data requires more details about who those individuals are and where they live.
The Census Bureau has not yet announced when it expects to complete those files. It usually works to meet the personal deadline set by the laws of each state.