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FIFTEENTH AND SUBSEQUENT DECENNIAL CENSUSES
House on Representatives,
Committee On The Census,
Wednesday, January 11, 1928.
The committee met at 10.40 o'clock a. m., Hon. E. Hart Fenn (chairman) presiding.
The Chairman. Gentlemen, we have for consideration this morning H. R. 393, a bill which I might characterize as a departmental bill having in view the taking of the next census. Before I came to Washington I communicated with the Secretary of Commerce and the Census Bureau, making inquiry as to whether they had any proposed legislation for this Congress in anticipation of the taking of the Fifteenth Census, and this bill was referred to me by Mr. Hoover, through the Speaker of the House; it is what I may characterize as the bill which the Department of Commerce and the Bureau of the Census consider advisable to be adopted for the taking of the Fifteenth Census. The bill is now before us, and perhaps we had better first hear from the representatives of the Bureau of the Census who are here this morning.
Mr. Rankin. It is the proposition of the chairman to have these hearings before the full committee and not before a subcommittee?
The Chairman. I thought we would hold them before the full committee, so that we would be better informed. It is just as easy to get a quorum of the full committee as of the subcommittee. Without objection, we will hear first from Doctor Hill, Assistant to the Director of the Census Bureau.
STATEMENT OF DR. JOSEPH A. HILL, ASSISTANT TO THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF THE CENSUS
Doctor Hill. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am very sorry that Mr. Steuart is not here himself to explain this bill. This is a bill which provides for the taking of the next census of the United States, which, as you all know, is going to be a very big undertaking. We shall have over 120,000,000 people to enumerate, taking an army of 100,000 enumerators to do it. It is a big administrative job; I need not expatiate on that. The bill is drafted, as your chairman has explained, in the department, consulting the officials of the bureau, and consulting the advisory committee that we have on the census, composed of representatives of the American Statistical Association and the American Economic Association. I do not think I should say more by way of introduction. The first paragraph defines the scope of the census, as a census of population, agriculture, and distribution. You may perhaps notice that it does not mention manufactures; that is because the census of manufactures is provided for in section 17, which perpetuates a biennial census of manufactures that we have been taking for some time, and that biennial census, in the regular course of events, will be taken in, 1930 to cover the year 1929; so it was not necessary to consider it as a part of the decennial census but just to continue the biennial census. You may also notice that it covers a new feature, that is, the subject of distribution, which has never before been covered by any decennial census. That is provided in section 1, which covers population, agriculture, and distribution. There has been a good deal of call from various quarters for information regarding the distribution of economic goods. We have for many years had very complete statistics of the production of economic goods, and we have felt that there is a lack in that field as to sales and handling of manufactured goods or other lines of goods after they have been produced. Last year we made an experiment in taking a census of distribution for 17 of the principal cities of the country, and we are now publishing the results of that census. If this feature of the bill is retained, this census will be a comprehensive one, in connection with the census of 1930, to cover the greater part of the country, if not all of it.
The next clause in the bill provides for the areas to be corered by the census:
The census herein provided for shall include each State, the District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, and Porto Rico.
The Chairman. I do not want to interrupt the continuity of your remarks, except with regards to this section. I see you provide for each State, the District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, and Porto Rico; then you say:
A census of Guam, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands shall be taken in the same year by the respective governors of said islands and a census of the Panama Canal Zone by the governor of the Canal Zone in accordance with plans prescribed or approved by the Director of the Census.
Has any consideration been given to taking the census of the Philippines?
Doctor Hill. The first census of the Philippines was taken by the War Department; it has been a separate and distinct census. The last one, I think, was taken for 1919, by the Philippine government, just a year before we took ours.
The Chairman. There is provision for that, then, in the War Department?
Doctor Hill. Well, I do not know whether there is any legislation.
The Chairman. I mean, it does not come under the Census Bureau?
Doctor Hill. No, sir.
Mr. Johnson. The question of pay would be different in the Philippine census from that of the other census.
The Chairman. I only speak of it, Doctor Hill, because the matter has been brought to my attention. I have no interest or knowledge in the matter, except to ascertain the fact about it. The territorial area is just the same as it was 10 years ago?
Mr. Magrady. I notice the bill says "in the year 1930 and every 10 years thereafter." Is that just as it has been carried in previous legislation?
Doctor Hill. That has been carried in the census bill for the last three or four censuses anyway. Of course there is an addition in the case of the Virgin Islands, because we had just taken a special census of them 10 years ago; otherwise it is just the same as it was 10 years ago. Section 2 defines the period that we know as the decenial census period:
That the period of three years beginning the 1st day of July next preceding the census provided for in section 1 of this act shall be known as the decennial census period, and the reports upon the inquiries provided for in said section shall be completed within such period.
That is the period to which this law would apply. This law would be in force and in operation for three years beginning July 1, 1929. We have to begin sometime in advance of the date of the census in order to get ready for it, and you would have to extend it some distance beyond the date of the census in order to wind it up. It takes a good while, under the best and most favorable conditions, to tabulate and publish the results of the decennial census. As far as I am concerned, as to interruptions, I would just as soon be interrupted at any time, if anyone has a question to raise; I have no set speech to deliver.
The Chairman. Doctor Hill is here to give us information, and from what he has said, I think the committee will take advantage of it.
Mr. Johnson. I have not had time to read the entire bill carefully, but in regard to the provisions of the first paragraph, as to a census of population, agriculture, and distribution, the details of the facts desired to be secured are carried in the bill, or not?
Doctor Hill. They are not carried in the bill. That is left, as the bill stands, to the discretion of the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the Census.
Mr. Johnson. The particular items that might be desirable are left to those officials?
Doctor Hill. Yes, sir; that is the situation. Then section 3 provides:
That there may be employed in the Bureau of the Census, in addition to the force provided for by the appropriation act for the fiscal year immediately preceding the decennial census period, two assistant directors, one of whom shall act as executive assistant to the director, performing, in addition, the duties usually assigned to the chief clerk, and the other, who must be a person of known and tried experience in statistical work, as technical and statistical advisor; these officials to be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, upon the recommendation of the Director of the Census, in conformity with the civil service laws and rules.
The Chairman. Doctor, are those new officers?
Doctor Hill. We have never had more than one assistant director before.
The Chairman. You say, "Performing, in addition, the duties usually assigned to the chief clerk." Would that remove the present chief clerk from his present duties?
Doctor Hill. No, sir.
The Chairman. It makes two authoritative officers?
Doctor Hill. It makes two offices in one.
The Chairman. Two assistant directors, one of whom is the executive assistant to the director; I understand. In other words, the present chief clerk will become an assistant director?
Doctor Hill. He may.
The Chairman. I did not mean the individual, but the office.
Doctor Hill. As I say, that is a new feature, because the director needs two assistants. Any man who looks after the administrative end of the census is not going to have time for anything else.
Mrs. Kahn. How will his salary be provided for?
Doctor Hill. I do not believe the salary is provided for; at least, it would come under the reclassification.
The Chairman. It says, "upon the recommendation of the Director of the Census, in conformity with the civil-service laws and rules." Are there positions of that character under the civil service in the Census Bureau now?
Doctor Hill. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. There is no change in that?
Doctor Hill. No, sir. I might say, on the other hand, that any man who looks after the technical and statistical side of the work, planning the tables, and the interpretation of them, and questions of that kind, will not have any time to do any executive work. That js the reason for the provision.
The Chairman. You say, "who must be a person of known and tried experience in statistical work, as technical and statistical advisor." Would you put a man of that character under civil service? Or does this bill put a man of that ability under the civil service? It says, "these officials to be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, upon the recommendation of the Director of the Census, in conformity with the civil-service laws and rules." It seems to me that such an exceptional statistician as that would be almost able to instruct the Civil Service Commission in some things.
Mr. Brown. I am Mr. Brown, of the Civil Service Commission. May I say that we are filling positions of $6,000 and $7,500 in these technical places in the departments all the time?
Mr. Jacobstein. Would it be your idea, Mr. Chairman, to revise that last clause?
The Chairman. No; I just wanted to see how far the civil service would prevail. The civil service has just informed me that they do pass upon the qualifications of $6,000, $7,000, and $8,000 men, so I do not see any particular objection to this.
Mr. Brown. The field has actually broadened in placing them under the civil service. Our system of recruiting is such that we can reach people throughout the country of such qualifications.
The Chairman. It is rather restricted in this bill, as far as I read it. It says, "these officials to be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, upon the recommendation of the Director of the Census, in conformity with the civil-service laws and rules." Now, assuming that the Director of the Census nominates an individual for the position of assistant director. As long as that individual can pass the civil-service requirements, he is appointed, of course, isn't he?
Mr. Brown. Well, no
The Chairman. If you do not do that, you would throw it open to the whole country to apply under the civil service, and remove the authority carried in this bill, "to be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, upon the recommendation of the Director of the Census."