Census Costs Expected to Triple in 2020

The U.S. Constitution requires that the Census be taken every 10 years ... but conservative critics say the Founding Fathers never thought it would have to be done at these prices.

The 2020 U.S. Census is expected to cost more than $15 billion dollars. That's about $107 per household -- or three times the cost of the 2000 census.

By comparison, the 1970 Census cost $17 per household in inflation-adjusted dollars. The skyrocketing cost provoked sharp criticism at a Senate hearing.

Texas Congressman Brent Farenthold in among the conservative critics who say the Census Bureau should outsource the work for better technology and efficiency.

Farenthold says contractors can offer more recent technology and higher efficiency.

“It seems to me the Census Bureau has this attitude of, ‘We have to do it ourselves,’ and aren't looking to products that maybe are already out there -- or companies that you might be able to contract with to save some money,” Farenthold said during a recent Senate committee. 

“For instance, it's my understanding that the Census Bureau received numerous recommendations -- including from the GAO and the Scientific Advisory Committee as well as the private sector -- how the Census Bureau could better use commercial mapping and GIS … which would yield a large cost saving and increase productivity," he said. "However, to date, the Census Bureau doesn't appear to have recognized or implemented any of the recommendations."

The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Ron Johnson, has pointed out that at the cost to count our population is increasing faster than the population itself.

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