Help save the American Community Survey (ACS)

The Free Government Information blog has been tracking on HR 5326 "Making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013" and more specifically the Webster-Lankford amendment (which passed the House on May 9, 2012 by a vote of 232 - 190) which cuts funding for the American Community Survey. Data collected by the ACS are used by policy makers to determine the distribution of federal funding for everything from schools to roads and bridges, to emergency services and Medicaid benefits -- and is of vital interest to researchers, teachers, students and the public to learn more about and track on issues important to their communities. As the Sunday NY Times succinctly put it, in an article entitled "The Beginning of the End of the Census?":

This survey of American households has been around in some form since 1850, either as a longer version of or a richer supplement to the basic decennial census. It tells Americans how poor we are, how rich we are, who is suffering, who is thriving, where people work, what kind of training people need to get jobs, what languages people speak, who uses food stamps, who has access to health care, and so on.

It is, more or less, the country’s primary check for determining how well the government is doing — and in fact what the government will be doing. The survey’s findings help determine how over $400 billion in government funds is distributed each year.

But last week, the Republican-led House voted to eliminate the survey altogether, on the grounds that the government should not be butting its nose into Americans’ homes.

If you care about this vital program, please sign the Save the American Community Survey petition. It's crucial that our Federal lawmakers know about the public's concern, and understand why they need the ACS to do their very jobs!

[Note: this was originally posted on Free Government Information, the personal blog of James Jacobs, Stanford's US Government Information Librarian]