President Barack Obama on Thursday afternoon named University of Michigan professor Robert Groves to be Census Bureau director.
Groves is believed to back statistical sampling of the Census, and his appointment is already beginning to generate a firestorm on Capitol Hill. The next population count is set for 2010.
Groves has a long record of studying surveying methods, publishing numerous book chapters and articles on the topic. He served from 1990 to 1992 as Census associate director for statistical design, standards and methodology.
In an interview this afternoon with Roll Call, former Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher, who ran the department when Groves was at the Census Bureau, said Groves was among those who backed sampling and pushed for its use in the Census.
Mosbacher said he rejected the effort because he and senior aides determined that sampling did not pass constitutional muster since the advocates could not prove it was any more accurate than performing a traditional count.
Statistical sampling, which adjusts counts to account for low response rates by certain population segments, is ardently opposed by many Republicans.
Republicans on Thursday began expressing misgivings about the appointment.
As associate director of statistical design at the Census Bureau in the 1990s, Mr. Groves reportedly advocated a scheme to use computer analysis to manipulate Census data, rather than simply conducting an accurate count of the American people, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. That plan was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1999, but we will have to watch closely to ensure the 2010 census is conducted without attempting similar statistical sleight of hand.
Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a GOP leader on the issue, said even before the announcement was official that he found it an incredibly troubling selection that contradicts the administrations assurances that the census process would not be used to advance an ulterior political agenda.
Obama also said that Victor M. Mendez will serve as administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. Mendez was a member of former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitanos cabinet as the director of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Napolitano, a Democrat, is now Homeland Security secretary.
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