Apr 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden picks Robert Santos to be first person of color to lead Census bureau

President Biden on Tuesday announced that he plans to nominate Robert Santos, vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute, as director of the U.S. Census Bureau at the Department of Commerce.

Why it matters: If confirmed by the Senate, Santos, who also serves the president of the American Statistical Association, would be the first person of color to permanently lead the agency.

  • The Census Bureau is in charge of conducting surveys and the once-a-decade resident count used for distributing political representation and funding across the country.

The big picture: "Depending on the timing of a confirmation, Santos could finish the term left open by former Director Steven Dillingham that is ending this year," NPR writes.

  • Dillingham, the Trump-appointed director, quit in January after multiple employee whistleblowers told the bureau's internal watchdog they were under pressure to gather and publish rushed data on documented and undocumented immigrants.

What he's saying: "If confirmed, I will support the Bureau and its staff in its mission to provide quality population and economic data to the nation," Santos said in a statement to NPR.

  • "The principles of transparency, scientific independence, and integrity will be key in allowing the Census Bureau to thrive and innovate over the coming decade."
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