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Census Bureau Heads Meet with Latino Leaders

Census Bureau Heads Meet with Latino Leaders

Photo: U.S. Census Bureau

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Latino leaders representing the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) met with the Acting Director of the US Census Bureau and his senior staff on December 3, 2012 in Washington, DC to discuss Latino concerns about planning for the 2020 Census and related issues.

The immediate issue that prompted the meeting was community concern about the underrepresentation of Latinos on the Census Bureau’s newly-created National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations.
Latino Underrepresentation

Mesenbourg, who is now the Census’ Acting Director, explained that he will be making every effort to assure full Latino participation on their National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations (NAC) on both its membership and in the ad-hoc Working Groups that it will be forming to conduct its work.

He reported that the NAC will have a number of openings in its membership this and next year and that it will be forming three Working Groups on specific topics that will present additional opportunities to include Latino experts on a variety of subjects. Currently, the National Advisory Committee has only three Latinos among its 32 members (9 percent).

The Census Bureau also agreed to develop a more targeted and coordinated approach to addressing the long-standing problem of Latino underrepresentation at all levels and especially at the upper management (GS-14/GS-15 and Career Senior Executive Service [SES] levels), on its staff. Latinos currently only make up 7 percent of Census Bureau staff, despite being 15 percent of the civilian labor force.

There was agreement that a different approach is required to address this Hispanic employment problem at the Bureau, including serious consideration of the NHLA’s proposal to create a special task force focused on Latinos. Associate Director Steve Jost agreed to develop a media strategy starting with a webinar geared specifically towards Hispanics on career opportunities in the Bureau.

In addition, Arturo Vargas of NALEO explained that the NHLA will be meeting with the Commerce Secretary to discuss ways to increase the appointment of Latinos to senior policy level positions within the Census Bureau and other agencies of the Commerce Department.

Related to this, the Census Bureau will be providing the NHLA with quarterly equal employment opportunity (EEO) reports on the racial-ethnic breakdown of its staff.

The Future of the Race and Hispanic Questions

The Census Bureau committed itself as well to co-sponsoring a national briefing in 2013 on the findings and recommendations of the Alternative Questionnaire Experiment (AQE) research on potential changes in the race and Hispanic questions for the 2020 Census.

They agreed to work with the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP) and the NALEO Educational Fund as they develop meetings and conferences on this issue. Related to this research on the race and Hispanc questions, the Bureau will be making available to eligible researchers raw data from the 2010 AQE survey and the 67 focus group sessions they conducted for independent analysis on the impact of question changes on the Latino count.