Steven Dillingham Confirmed as Director of the Census

The Senate confirmed Steven Dillingham by unanimous voice vote as director of the US Census Bureau January 2. Along with nearly 30 associations, the American Statistical Association urged the Senate to promptly confirm Dillingham in support of preparations for the upcoming census.

Dillingham has a long history of leadership in the federal statistical system, having previously served as director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics—the latter at the time being a presidentially appointed, senate-confirmed position.

Dillingham succeeds Ron Jarmin, who has led the bureau in an acting capacity since late June 2017, and will oversee the decennial headcount during a period of lingering questions about cybersecurity and a proposed citizenship question that has generated controversy.

Of the 13 federal statistical agencies, two—the USDA Economic Research Service and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)—are headed by acting directors. William Wiatrowski has served as acting director of BLS since January 2017, while President Donald Trump’s nominee for commissioner—William Beach—continues to wait for Senate confirmation.

The confirmation in the last hours of the 115th Congress was part of a deal that confirmed 77 of Trump’s nominees. Kelvin Droegemeier was also confirmed to be director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), a position informally known as the president’s science adviser and held by John Holdren under President Barack Obama. Trump nominated Droegemeier to be OSTP director August 1. Trump’s nominee for USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics—Scott Hutchins—has not been confirmed.