John Thompson, former US Census Bureau chief, on results of census deadline changing

Data collection for the 2020 Census will end Sept. 30, raising concerns about undercounting.
4:17 | 08/05/20

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Transcript for John Thompson, former US Census Bureau chief, on results of census deadline changing
Are in turning now to something all Americans need to complete and as soon as possible the US census in the middle of the pandemic the trump administration has quietly moved up the deadline to finish the once A decade survey. There's concern tonight that that could lead to an undercount joining us now is a former director of the US Census Bureau John Thompson who served until June of 2017. Thanks so much for your timing or you ran the 2000 census and worked in the bureau for 27 years. First up for everyone who may not be aware walk us through why the census is so important. And why an accurate count of who lives where is so critical for our government. Certainly show. That this angle census Tennessee constitutional. Purpose to three apportioned has some representatives. The data are used to draw. National congressional voting districts local voting districts. The results are used to allocate over one point five trillion. Dollars. Per per year a federal funding to various localities. And the census is just the valuable resource poor. State and city and local planners and businesses use it to make informed decisions and that where. Start companies due to higher the big issue is is that if there are errors. 100 counts are overcast for that matter in the dissent you'll sensors. Then you are and take 20/20 for example they let loose errors would be what this war on ten years until you can take the 23 chances. What are those arrows mean and very practical sense if you're an area and you suffer an undercount then you'll get less than your fair share. Federal funds. You might not kitchen full representation. And the congress so it has a real fact. And obviously it's a major challenge to conduct a census in the middle of a pandemic now before covet nineteen hit. The count was supposed to be finished by the end of July Lee administration push that October 30 for than yesterday announced. They were moving it to September 30. Roughly four in ten households still have not responded so are you worried that they won't be able to count everyone within the next two months. I am extremely concerned. That the Census Bureau is going to be forced to. Cut corners or take shortcuts. Career people the Census Bureau. Initially laid out a plan that said we're going to need between from April 11 to be bad days of October. To you do you the enumeration. And then to do all the process and it takes to make the data available they wanted to extend to book April 31 jumped 20/20 one. Now the Supreme Court denied the administration's attempt to add a citizenship question to the census that recently the president issued a policy memorandum. Directing the Census Bureau to exclude undocumented immigrants from data used to decide congressional representation. You testified alongside other former heads of the Census Bureau last week. Are you worried this memorandum regardless of its legality will lead to an undercount of our most vulnerable communities. So I'm very concerned that the issuance. That Natalie it could well increase. The the fears and concerns of many of the traditionally hard to count populations. That they're date it will not be kept confidential. And in return they wool. Be very difficult to get to participate in the twinkling census and that will lead Cuba under camps. And lastly if we take a step back obviously we're in unprecedented territory here with the pandemic but. If the Census Bureau numbers producing US population its millions less in the 2010 census. What's the recourse here my former director colleagues and I had recommended. That the congress commission an independent. An objective. And two key organization. That can develop. Some metrics if you roller measures. But in advance of the 20/20 census that can be used to determine if infect the point the twinkling census apportionment counts of that for news. Mr. Thompson we thank you so much for your time appreciate it. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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