Common Cause Rhode Island Congratulates Gov. Raimondo on Nomination as US Commerce Secretary with Oversight of Census Bureau

On January 7, 2021, then-President-Elect Joe Biden announced his nomination of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to be US Commerce Secretary.

The US Senate Commerce will hold a hearing on her nomination this morning, January 26, 2021 beginning at 10:00 am.  A livestream of the hearing will be available here.  


Statement of Common Cause Rhode Island Executive Director John Marion

The federal Commerce Department faces a huge challenge in completing the 2020 Census.

Under the US Constitution, the decennial census is one of the basic responsibilities of our government – but under the previous administration: the count was politicized; the Census Bureau’s management was repeatedly saddled with political appointees; and employees were pushed to meet unattainable deadlines. As a result, serious questions have been raised about the quality of the resulting data.

Yet this is the same data that the nation will depend on for the next 10 years. Census data is the foundation of congressional apportionment – but it is also used by more than 100 federal programs to guide the allocation of financial assistance; it is used by public health agencies to understand health trends; and it’s used by private business for market research purposes.

It is crucial that the Census Bureau gets the data right, now, so that we can use it for the next 10 years.

Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo understands the importance of the 2020 Census. She spoke up early with concerns about President Trump’s effort to change the population that would be counted by the Census Bureau. She helped push for adequate resources for the Census Bureau’s end-to-end testing program – which eventually held only one complete test of counting procedures, in Providence County in 2018. She formed a “Complete Count Committee” to ensure that all Rhode Islanders would be included in 2020 Census data — including members of communities that are traditionally “hard to count.”

As Secretary of Commerce, Gov. Raimondo will be uniquely positioned to fix the well-documented problems with the 2020 Census – and to guide planning for the 2030 Census. 

We appreciate that the Census Bureau has extended the delivery date for apportionment numbers to allow staff to produce the most accurate and full count possible. We trust that Gov. Raimondo will make this a top priority as Secretary. We also trust that she will ensure transparency about how the data is handled to raise public confidence in the integrity of the count.

We appreciate that President Biden has already reversed policies that discouraged “hard to count” communities from participating in the 2020 Census. We trust that Gov. Raimondo will ensure that the final Census 2020 apportionment counts and redistricting data will include all people in America, regardless of race, ethnicity or immigration status. We also trust that all information compiled by the Census Bureau will be protected under the privacy provisions of Title 13 of the US Code. 

We know that planning for the 2030 Census needs to start almost immediately, and we look forward to working with Gov. Raimondo and the next Census Director to ensure that the next census accurately counts all the people in our country.