BISMARCK, N.D. – The U.S. Census Bureau has canceled planned field operations tests next year on the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas due to funding concerns.
The tests were intended to help improve how the bureau works with tribes and to provide the best data possible to help ensure tribes get the resources they need. Census Bureau Director John Thompson said in an Oct. 18 statement that the reservation tests and a test in Puerto Rico will be nixed due to uncertainty about funding for fiscal 2017.
“We did not make this decision lightly,” he said.
The Census Bureau did not immediately have figures Monday on how much the tests would have cost.
The bureau will consider conducting tests on the reservations during a larger national test in 2018.
“The Census Bureau must make critical decisions now to adjust and ensure success in this all-important dry run of the 2020 Census,” Lisa Blumerman, a bureau associate director, said in a memo.
The reservation test sites were selected in part because they have more than 2,000 housing units each and a large percentage of people who identify as American Indian. The areas also hold the potential for undercounting because of their lack of traditional home addresses. Only 16 percent of housing units on Standing Rock and 33 percent at Colville are able to receive questionnaires through the U.S. Postal Service, the bureau said in April when it announced the tests.
The bureau in 2020 is hoping to avoid a 5 percent undercount of the American Indian population seen in the 2010 census. Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault said in April that the 2017 tests might help come up with innovative ways to collect accurate data. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.