All posts by Mary Jo Hoeksema

APDU Board Member

APDU Conference: Supporting Federal Statistical Agencies in Congress

Recent proposed funding increases for the Census Bureau suggest that Congress is listening and responding to concerns expressed by the data user community.   However, the reality is other federal statistical agencies are not faring as well, enduring years of, at best, flat funding, and, at worst, funding cuts.  It is clear much work remains to ensure greater funding parity across the federal statistical system.

The 2018 Association of Public Data Users (APDU) Annual Conference is an excellent opportunity for data users to not only learn more about funding challenges facing federal statistical agencies, but also to hone their skills for communicating with policymakers about the value of federal support for statistical agencies, surveys, and data collection.  On July 18, as part of the Washington Update, APDU conferees will hear from Mr. Jim Dyer, former staff director of the House Appropriations Committee. With more than 30 years of legislative experience, Mr. Dyer will provide unique insights into the appropriations process and what APDU members can expect during the ongoing Fiscal Year 2019 deliberations.

For those conferees who are eager to engage policymakers more directly, APDU is offering a special workshop, “Building the Case for Public Statistics.” The workshop, which individuals must register for separately from the APDU conference, will be led by three government relations experts who will educate attendees about how and when to engage policymakers. During the workshop, participants will develop messages and receive feedback from the trainers.  For more information, go to: http://apdu.org/2017/12/18/building-the-case-for-public-statistics-training/.

The APDU conference is happening at a pivotal time during the annual appropriations process. Fiscal Year 2018 ends September 30, and Congress will be acting throughout the summer and, possibly, into the fall to pass all 12 of the Fiscal Year 2019 funding bills.  Come to the 2018 APDU conference to get the latest information about these deliberations and consider taking a deeper dive by attending the supplemental workshop to enhance your communication and presentation skills to policymakers. Hope to see you there!

APDU Board Member Provides FY18 Appropriations Update

Last week, Congress adjourned for its traditional August recess, leaving unfinished business, and an unclear path forward, on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 appropriations bills—bills essential to keeping the federal government open once the current fiscal year ends on September 30.  This is a common refrain. 1994 was the last time Congress passed all 12 appropriations bills before the fiscal year ended.

Most of the 12 funding bills have passed the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and are awaiting floor action where they will either be considered individually, or, more likely, as part of a larger omnibus spending package.  Before leaving for the August recess, the House of Representatives passed a minibus spending measure that included 4 bills funding, among other things, the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Rumors abound that the remaining 8 appropriations bills will be merged with the 4-bill security appropriations bill and sent to the House floor in September. The U.S. Senate leadership has neither expressed enthusiasm for this approach nor indicated yet what its strategy will be for moving FY 2018 appropriations bills. Given this uncertainty and the tight time frame, Congress may pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government operating after September 30.

While the FY 2018 funding outlook for all federal statistical agencies is bleak, APDU is particularly concerned about the Census Bureau.   Neither the House nor Senate FY 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bills provide the agency with sufficient funding to prepare for Census 2020. Further, if Congress passes a CR, census stakeholders worry the legislation may not provide the agency with a funding anomaly—an outcome that would further hinder keeping even limited Census 2020 preparations on track.

APDU will continue to monitor these developments and work with other organizations to ensure all federal statistical agencies receive sufficient funding and support in FY 2018.  At the APDU annual meeting next month, participants will hear from an expert panel of Washington insiders who will address not only the current state of appropriations, but also how data users and stakeholders can more effectively represent the needs of statistical agencies when communicating with policymakers.