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ASA at 175 - More on Advocacy: The Census Project

By Ronald Wasserstein - March 17, 2014

I wrote last week about ASA advocacy efforts, mentioning specifically the American Statistical Association’s work in support of the American Community Survey (ACS). I mentioned that collaboration with other groups was an essential part of the ASA’s advocacy strategy. Today I will highlight one of the organizations with which we partner.

The Census Project is an informal network of organizations of many kinds who work together to help ensure an effective census. The primary focus of the Census Project is on the decennial census, but it advocates on behalf of other Census Bureau products, including the aforementioned American Community Survey. The Census Project is funded by donations and by elbow grease, the hard work of volunteers, including ASA Director of Science Policy, Steve Pierson

The advocacy efforts of the Census Project include fact sheets, letters to Congressional leaders, informational (and often highly entertaining) blog posts, and, of course, knocking on doors of Congressional offices, presenting testimony at hearings, and other fundamentals of advocacy.

I mention this organization for two reasons. First, the Census Project rallied last week to protect the ACS from a bill that would have made response voluntary. You can learn more about the ACS by reading this short summary prepared by Steve Pierson, and much more about why a voluntary ACS is not sound statistically in the Congressional Research Service report. Second, the Census Project and the issues surrounding the ACS illustrate the importance of engaging in advocacy partnerships.

There is no way that the ASA can effectively advocate on such important and wide-reaching matters on its own. However, in connection with the Census Project, COSSA (see my January 29 blog post), AAAS, and others, we can greatly improve our chances of successfully communicating the importance of good statistics and good science.

Special thanks and kudos go to Phil Sparks, Terri Ann Lowenthal, and Mary Jo Hoeksema for their leadership on Census-related matters. (Terri Ann writes those informative and entertaining blogs I mentioned. Check out today’s Census Project blog as an example.)

In 2014, the American Statistical Association is celebrating its 175th anniversary. Over the course of this year, this blog will highlight aspects of that celebration, and look broadly at the ASA and its activities. Please contact ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein ( if you would like to post an entry to this blog.


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