Approval of the recommended actions would result in a reduction of the General Fund Contingency Reserve of $1,008,989. The original budget for the FY 2017-18 General Fund Contingency Reserve was $142,585,595. Board policy 4.3 states that the contingency reserve should be 5% of general revenues net of pass-through revenue. Since the use of contingency reserve impacts compliance with this policy, the midyear budget analysis included a $11,785,561 replenishment of this reserve. The balance of this reserve as of February 6, 2018, was $141,613,928 indicating that $12,757,228 had been allocated for other purposes. The Administration informed the Board at that time that there might be additional pending actions that will impact this balance once they are approved and processed.
REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION
The 2020 Census will dramatically affect the well-being and political representation of county residents for a decade. At the same time, the census faces unprecedented challenges to achieving a complete and accurate count. With the first major opportunity for local government to affect the count underway right now, the Administration recommends an aggressive strategy and a commensurate budget appropriation to enable the County to identify every possible household for census response, deeply and broadly engage the community, implement a smart communications strategy, take leadership with key partners, and launch its three-year strategy to maximize 2020 participation.
Importance of the 2020 Census
The importance of the decennial United States census to the County and its constituents cannot be overstated. Among other things, the census is critical for the following reasons:
1. It determines political representation for our residents. The United States Constitution mandates the census to apportion seats in the House of Representatives among the states, and state and local governments rely on census data to draw district lines to ensure equity of representation for each resident at those levels.
2. It guides massive federal funding allocations. According to the George Washington University report Counting for Dollars 2020, over $76 billion dollars in federal assistance programs - $1,958 per resident – come into California every year on the basis of decennial census-derived statistics.
3. Public and private sector, philanthropy, community-based organizations, labor and other advocates all rely on census data to set policy, direct resources, plan products and services and core strategy decisions.
Successful completion of the decennial census’ mission is always a challenge, especially in California, the hardest-to-count state. The scale and nature of the obstacles to the 2020 Census, however, are unprecedented:
1. The 2020 census count will be severely underfunded by the federal government. The Office of Management and Budget calculated that the 2010 Census was funded at half of the amount it should have been, yet the Trump administration has stated that 2020 funding will not exceed the 2010 level of $13 billion.
2. Key elements of the US Census Bureau’s staffing and preparation are not in place. The Bureau’s permanent director resigned in May 2017, and in February 2018, Thomas Brunell, who held controversial views on redistricting, withdrew from consideration for the deputy director role. The Bureau has not submitted its customary request for authorization to hire noncitizen enumerators, likely to impede its ability to meet the needed language capacities for this workforce of over 300,000. The Bureau has also cancelled two of three of its scheduled “dress rehearsals” that it uses to pilot methods and prepare for challenges during the decennial census. Given that this is the first decennial census that will rely primarily on online surveys rather than paper ones to collect responses, testing is of particular importance.
3. Fear among residents is presenting major barriers to collecting full and accurate data in early testing. A 2017 internal Census Bureau memorandum described this “new phenomenon” of concerns, especially among immigrants, that have led respondents to refuse to complete surveys, falsify information, or in one instance, move out of their home due to stated fear of deportation.
As home to large hard-to-count populations – which include immigrants, people of color, young children, low-income households and large or overcrowded households, among others – the County can expect to be disproportionately affected by these challenges.
Census Timeline and Significance of the LUCA
The work for this decade’s decennial census begins well before 2020. The current phase, the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA), “is the only opportunity offered to tribal, state, and local governments to review and comment on the U.S. Census Bureau's residential address list for their jurisdiction prior to the 2020 Census” as described on the Bureau’s website. Low-visibility housing units, such as garages, basements, cottages, recreational vehicles, or greenhouses – extremely common residences in this county – are largely missing from the Bureau’s list; LUCA allows local governments to add such units.
Census Bureau preparations are proceeding on the following non-exhaustive timeline:
1. As of the writing of this legislative file, LUCA materials were scheduled to be delivered to the County on Friday, March 2, 2018; upon receipt, the County has until June 30, 2018 – 120 days – to return materials with updates to the Bureau’s Master Address File (MAF).
2. The Census Bureau will review the County’s submissions and provide notification by August-September 2019 of which updates it has accepted based on address canvassing. The County will then have the opportunity to dispute the Bureau’s feedback.
3. April 1, 2020, known as Census Day, is the official date on which the census will be taken. All households in the MAF will receive mailed materials from the Census Bureau, with some receiving a full survey and others receiving a postcard with instructions to fill out the survey online.
4. In late spring and early summer 2020, the Bureau will conduct Non-Response Follow Up with all households that do not initially respond to the surveys.
5. For housing units that do not respond but are still occupied, the Census Bureau will conduct imputation, taking the average household size for the geographic area and adding that number of residents to the count for each non-responding household.
6. In fall 2020, the Bureau will publicize its counts and local governments and other stakeholders will have the opportunity to dispute its findings.
Within this context, the LUCA represents a highly leveraged means to invest in the completeness of the ultimate count of county residents via ensuring the completeness of the MAF. Every housing unit in the MAF will be part of the Census Bureau’s enumeration process, which includes sending enumerators door-to-door to achieve response.
LUCA Strategic Plan
The Administration’s proposed strategic plan for the LUCA is accordingly aggressive, requesting Board approval for resources to enable the County to undertake every reasonable effort to ensure that no housing unit is left out of the Master Address File. To craft the strategic plan, the Administration and County Counsel have convened an initial interdepartmental census coordinating team of representatives from the Office of the County Executive, County Counsel, Planning Department, and Information Services Department (ISD); connected with over two dozen census experts and fellow stakeholders via individual meetings and participation in regional and statewide convenings; researched models and pilots from San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, and New York City; hosted and received LUCA training from the Census Bureau; and studied Census Bureau documents, expert analysis, and media coverage.
The strategic plan elements laid out below include narrative explanations of the relevant line items in the proposed budget.
1. Targeting and prioritization: With leadership from the Planning Department, the Administration has identified, ranked and mapped all census block groups in the county in order of their likely number of housing units that are missing from the MAF. This number is calculated based on an analysis of demographic factors that are predictors of low-visibility housing. This analysis will be further refined by the Planning Department through a comparison of the MAF with existing County address data. The Administration will additionally host meetings with community members familiar with the identified neighborhoods to gain their feedback on the maps generated by this analysis.
2. Data sources: The Administration and County Counsel are pursuing all legally available sources of address data likely to include significant numbers of addresses missing from the MAF, as well as the purchase of mailing lists from a private company. The proposed budget includes the cost of this purchase.
3. Canvassing: The Administration will partner with community and/or private entities to canvass the top priority block groups. The proposed budget allows for canvassers to cover up to 800 of the 1,075 block groups in the County, with the intention that canvassers will take block groups in priority order and, with the County, periodically review results to confirm that canvassing is still providing a desirable return on investment before proceeding to the next tier of block groups. Canvassing methods will be informed by best practices from models and pilots from San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, and New York City and publicized by the Census Bureau. The proposed budget also includes the procurement of canvassing software and services that facilitate data collection in the field and provide cleaning of collected data, handing them over to the County ready for upload to the Census Bureau.
4. Satellite imagery: For census block groups that are not priorities for canvassing, the Administration will analyze satellite imagery to identify low-visibility housing units. The budget line for the activity allows for analysis of up to 500 block groups.
5. Data entry and ongoing analysis: Planning and Information Services Department staff will use Census Bureau software to upload new address information to the MAF on an ongoing basis throughout the 120-day LUCA period. Regular data entry will allow the Administration periodically to analyze the map and adjust priorities and plans as warranted. Planning and ISD staff have already been trained on LUCA and the use of Census Bureau software and put quality control measures in place. Planning and ISD budget line items support these activities as well as their involvement as described in the other strategic plan components.
6. Communications: Communications campaigns consisting of earned and paid media are consistently a central component of census stakeholder strategies to increase resident participation. The Census Bureau and stakeholder groups including the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Color of Change, and The California Endowment are currently on track to spend millions of dollars researching census barriers and attitudes and effective methods and messages to influence response behavior. This research, however, will not be completed until during or shortly after the LUCA. Building on media coverage earned for the County’s census efforts by Supervisors Yeager and Chavez’ press event in November and County Counsel’s Freedom of Information Act request in February, the Administration proposes to continue and expand this work during the LUCA. Communications activities will begin the work of encouraging census response by notifying residents about the LUCA, conveying the broader importance of the 2020 Census, and educating them about the County’s efforts to ensure a complete and accurate count and study the confidentiality of census data. The Administration will study near-term methods to use communications to engage residents in submitting their own addresses for LUCA inclusion. The communications services line item anticipates the costs of public opinion research, design and content development, and ad buys.
7. Partnerships: Partnerships are an indispensable component of the census strategic plan for LUCA and beyond, as referenced throughout the plan components listed above, and the Administration has begun work to offer County leadership to the numerous census stakeholders engaged in our region. The Administration will engage partners in targeting and prioritization, identifying data sources, providing canvassing services, recruiting interns to analyze satellite imagery, and guiding communications strategy during the LUCA, as well as the development and implementation of the census strategic plan through 2020. While partnering with other local governments, the Administration will seek to establish the County as a leader on address updating and outreach by sharing models of effective practices with other cities and counties that are engaged on this issue. In addition to partners already discussed, the Administration has established contact with all 15 cities in the county and is in the process of confirming the contents of their LUCA strategic plans and how the County can support and complement these activities. County census team members are meeting regularly with the census leads from San Jose as the largest city in the county. Partnerships to date and going forward will include
a. Community-based organizations,
b. The faith community,
c. Labor unions,
d. Charitable foundations,
e. Counties and cities statewide,
f. State government,
g. The Census Bureau,
h. Advocacy groups campaigning for a complete and accurate count, and
i. The private sector, including small businesses and their representatives.
The proposed budget includes funding for community meetings during the LUCA phase, laying the groundwork for our launch of one or more Complete Count Committees.
8. Project management: The Office of the County Executive is providing project management by coordinating the interdepartmental team, developing and ensuring successful implementation of the census strategic plan, composing Board communications, and executing all elements of the plan not entrusted to other departments. The Office has contracted with a project manager and requests funds to add a project coordinator on contract given the scale of activity and immediate ramp-up. The Administration will submit a proposal to the Board during the spring County budget process to create coded positions to spearhead this work through 2020.
9. Support for Legal Services: To support all of these efforts, the Office of the County Counsel is requesting $100,000 to cover anticipated costs associated with retaining outside expert resources.
Rationale for Funding Request
As discussed above, analysts warn that the federal government’s funding of the 2020 Census falls far short of the resources needed to ensure a complete and accurate count. Given the County’s stake in the census – measurable in the nearly $2,000 per year per resident over the next decade that relies on these figures, and immeasurable in the value of fair political representation – the unprecedented challenges facing the count, and the unique power of local government to address these gaps, the Administration recommends a robust investment in the County’s capacity to meet these challenges head on during this early and high-impact phase of the 2020 Census.
The budget of just over $1 million during the LUCA represents a significant increase over the budgets in 2010 of $750,000 and 2000 of $1 million for the entire census project. However, the County’s portion of the $13 billion Census Bureau budget shortfall is approximately $75 million. And roughly $0.50 per resident for the LUCA is dwarfed by the amount of federal funding at stake.
The Administration intentionally presents a budget proposal on the high end of anticipated spending during LUCA to prevent a scenario in which time-sensitive work is delayed or blocked entirely due to a lack of foresight and need to return to the Board for another appropriation. Any funds that are not needed for the LUCA will be reallocated to future phases of census work. The budget also allows for flexibility to reallocate funds between line items as data analysis, experience in the field, the shifting political and policy landscape, and new investments by other census stakeholders emerge. The census team is in touch with key philanthropic partners to track their planned investments in this area of work and also monitoring the State budget – currently expected to spend between $40 to 44 million for the census through 2020 – and requirements to access LUCA incentive monies from the State.
This proposal outlines costs expected to commence during the current fiscal year. Known costs to commence during FY19 will be submitted to the Board in the Revised Recommended General Fund Budget; the Office of the County Executive will also propose an amount to place in reserve to be accessed as Census Bureau plans and other landscape factors are decided and place the County in a position to finalize key strategic plan elements. The Administration will also submit is full strategic plan for the census project through 2020 during the budget process.
Information Services Department personnel
Planning Department personnel
Census project coordination services
Satellite imagery analysis
Mailing list purchase
Community meetings - food and incidentals
County Counsel costs
Delegation of Authority
Although delegations of authority are discouraged except under certain circumstances, this delegation of authority is necessary due to the extremely time-sensitive nature of the 2018 LUCA. As discussed above, the deadline for the County’s submission of updated address data to the Census Bureau falls on June 30, 2018. Vendor and contractor recruitment; contract negotiations, review and executive; service implementation and completion of deliverables; data cleaning and conversion; and data entry into the Census Bureau software must all take place within that time period. As a result, the Administration requests delegation of authority to allow these goods and services to be secured as expeditiously as possible with providers who can demonstrate their ability to deliver successfully.
Census Project Strategic Plan
The Administration is in the process of developing a more detailed and comprehensive Census Project Strategic Plan, with a presentation to the Board planned for the near future, which will include the following components:
1. Problem definition and goal setting: The Administration wishes to base strategies and target outreach and other resources as effectively as possible before and during the actual census count by studying likelihood of census response as correlated with demographic, geographic and other predictors and methods proven to increase response rates. Data to inform such an analysis have been requested from the California Department of Finance Demographic Research Unit and other possible sources but new research may need to be conducted.
2. Local partnerships, including the Complete Count Committee: One or more Complete Count Committees (CCCs) are pivotal to census success, given the broad and deep need for community leadership to address current census challenges and the number and diversity of local census stakeholders. CCCs will be essential both to driving engagement and to ensuring coordination on project components from consistent messaging to preventing the duplication of efforts to distribution of resources. The Administration has begun work on building CCCs via both the LUCA partnerships described above and studying models, most notably the CCCs co-convened by Los Angeles City and County, which in January 2018 became the first 2020 Census CCCs in the country to launch.
3. Supporting census workforce needs (enumerators): The Census Bureau’s hiring of over 300,000 enumerators represents the largest peacetime mobilization in the United States. The Bureau has encountered difficulties hiring enumerators in a tight job market during its “dress rehearsal” in Providence, Rhode Island, and community advocates expect those difficulties to be even greater in hiring those with adequate language capacities, as discussed above. The County’s strategic plan will include recommendations for components to support the recruitment and preparation of qualified enumerator applicants and integrate this with other elements of the local and regional workforce infrastructure.
4. Direct community, neighborhood and household outreach: The Administration, along with many other stakeholders, anticipates a need to put sizeable resources into going door-to-door, as well as using the latest and evidence-informed outreach methods, working complementarily with the Bureau’s own workforce.
5. Communications: The value of a far-reaching and well-researched communications plan is discussed above as part of the LUCA strategy. The Administration will extend this strategy out to 2020, working closely with partners across the country to apply the most rigorous and current messaging research in a quickly changing political climate and seeking opportunities to integrate census communications with other County communications initiatives to maximize the impact of all.
6. State, regional, and national collaboration: As mentioned above, census stakeholders across sectors are already mobilizing around this critical issue; partners who were involved in the 2010 census observe that the mobilization is earlier and broader than it was a decade ago. The proposed strategic plan will recommend the partners and venues of collaboration with which the County should prioritize engagement, not only to access resources but also to provide leadership. The Administration aims to provide models and exemplars of value to other Counties, local governments and partners.
7. Monitoring State and federal updates and other new developments: The census landscape is highly volatile and includes a wide variety of factors that may influence the completeness and accuracy of the count. The federal government is expected to issue decisions throughout the next three years and beyond – such as whether the 2020 survey will include a citizenship question, which households will be mailed a paper form versus a postcard with a survey weblink, how the vacancy in the Bureau’s director role will be addressed, and what messaging it will employ, to name a few – with major repercussions for stakeholders. Stakeholders from across sectors and across the country will be responding with legal, funding, outreach, and communications initiatives. The Administration will monitor such events. The strategic plan will remain agile and change in real time.
The recommended action will have a positive impact on children and youth by helping to ensure that all County residents are counted in the census and that the County receives federal funding allocations, including funding for services for children and youth, based on accurate census data.
The recommended action will have a positive impact on seniors by helping to ensure that all County residents are counted in the census and that the County receives federal funding allocations, including funding for services for seniors, based on accurate census data.
The recommended action will have no/neutral sustainability implications.
At the November 7, 2017, Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board approved a referral submitted by Supervisors Chavez and Yeager directing Administration and County Counsel to develop a strategic plan to address issues related to the 2020 Census, including identification of needed resources, proactive strategies to support a complete count, and monitoring of census-related regulatory changes.
On December 14, 2017, the Administration submitted an off-agenda memorandum to the Board of Supervisors providing an update on the actions of the Administration in response to the Board referral.
CONSEQUENCES OF NEGATIVE ACTION
Without approval, affected departments will return to the Board with a revised proposal. A delay in funding the census work could compromise the County’s ability to add new addresses to the Census Bureau Master Address File before the LUCA deadline.
STEPS FOLLOWING APPROVAL
Upon approval, the Clerk of the Board is asked to notify David Campos
(David.Campos@ceo.sccgov.org) and Elly Matsumura (email@example.com).