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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Takes Key Step to Address Census Challenges


Tuesday, June 30, 2009



Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Takes Key Step to Address Census Challenges

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced the hiring of three leading experts from outside the Census Bureau to provide an up-to-date assessment of the state of readiness and potential vulnerabilities for the looming 2010 Census. The part-time consultants will each be assigned to one of three areas: operations, overall management, and contracts and field operations.

Dr. Robert Groves, President Obama’s nominee for Census Director, was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on May 20, but he has been awaiting full Senate confirmation since then.

The consultants will work with Census managers to conduct a quick-turnaround risk assessment study to identify the chief areas of concern and prepare the new director to make his own judgments about priorities. They will serve in a non-decision-making capacity and will initially report to Locke until a new Census Director is confirmed by the Senate.

“The Census Bureau needs strong leadership at the very top, and it needs it now; if he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Robert Groves will run the agency with the independence and professionalism that the American people expect and the Constitution demands,” Locke said. “But if he is to move the Bureau as fast and as far as it needs to go, he’ll need help. I’m counting on these experts to use their decades of experience to tell us just what steps require immediate attention to make the 2010 Census a success.”

The individuals appointed today include:

Overall Management:
Kenneth Prewitt,2000 Census Director and Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs, School of International & Public Affairs, Columbia University; Prewitt has taught at the University of Chicago, Stanford University and Washington University, among others. In addition to running the Census, Prewitt has been the director of the National Opinion Research Center, president of the Social Science Research Council, and senior vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Political and Social Science, among other organizations.

Operations: John Thompson, President, National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago; Thompson came to the Opinion Research Center after a distinguished 27-year career at the Census Bureau, where, as one of the Bureau’s most senior career officers, he had responsibility for all aspects of the 2000 Decennial Census—including management, operations and methodology.

Contracts and Field Operations: Nancy Potok, Chief Operating Officer, McManis & Monsalve Associates; with more than 29 years of experience, including expertise in project management and process improvement, Potok is an acknowledged authority in organizational effectiveness. During the 2000 Census, she was the Census Bureau's Principal Associate Director and CFO, serving as a key member of the senior management team. Potok is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a recipient of the Arthur S. Flemming Award and a Certified Government Financial Manager.

The 2010 Census is a pressing national priority. Census data inform critical decisions including the allocation of more than $300 billion annually in federal funds for schools, roads, job training centers and other vital services, and congressional representation.