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Robert Santos. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Robert Santos as director for the U.S. Census Bureau, the final step to him becoming the first Latino, and first person of color, to lead the bureau on a permanent basis.

Why it matters: Santos will be responsible for the agency that produces the U.S.' most specific public data on race, ethnicity, gender, age and other demographic categories. The census is used to determine the number of seats in each state's delegation to congress.

  • During his confirmation hearing before a Senate panel, Santos said that while he understands the position is a political appointment, he is "no politician. I'm a scientist, executive-level manager, a researcher and a longtime supporter of the Census Bureau," per NPR.

Background: Santos was vice president and chief methodologist of the Urban Institute. When the White House announced his nomination, they said "[h]e is an expert in survey sampling, survey design and more generally in social science/policy research, with over 40 years of experience."

  • He is also the president of the American Statistical Association and was president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research and a member of the International Statistical Institute.

What they're saying: "A native of San Antonio who grew up in a Mexican-American family, Mr. Santos has become one of the top statisticians in the country in his 40 year career," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a statement. "He will be the first Hispanic — and in fact the first person of color — to become a permanent director in the agency’s history,"

  • "He is exactly the kind of person our country needs overseeing our Census: an impartial, highly experienced professional from outside politics."

Go deeper

The DMV's shifting demographic centers

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

D.C. and its suburbs are increasingly the population's center of gravity across the entire region.

  • New 2020 census data shows the mean population center of Virginia rapidly moving north, now just around Louisa and Hanover counties, 90 miles from D.C. In Maryland, the center has moved southwest away from Baltimore.

Why it matters: The drastic shift toward D.C. is an illustration of the national capital region's booming growth — from D.C. proper to Tysons to Bethesda.

Updated 11 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 14 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

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