Biden to nominate Robert Santos for Director of U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. Census paperwork is pictured in this photo illustration in New York City.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced that he will nominate Robert Santos for the Director of the Census Bureau. Santos, if confirmed, would become the first person of color to hold the position.

Santos, who is Hispanic, would head the agency in charge of the surveying the population every 10 years to determine distribution of funding to states as well as their political representation.

He is an expert in survey sampling, survey design and social science/policy research, with over 40 years of experience, the White House said. 

Biden’s latest pick continues on his campaign pledge to create a diverse administration, one which “looks like America,” Biden has stated.

Santos currently serves as vice president of the Statistics Methods Group at the Urban Institute, a Washington, DC, nonprofit research organization. In that role he had been a critic of the bureau, co-authoring a 2019 report warning that the 2020 Census could gravely undercount minorities.

The Census Bureau became a political football during the Trump administration when then-President Donald Trump and his allies pushed to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count.

Trump’s Census Bureau Director, Steven Dillingham, resigned in January amid accusations of politicizing the agency that is part of the Commerce Department.

The 2020 U.S. Census results have been delayed due to challenges surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as ongoing litigation. It now expects to complete the count on April 30, 2021, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office and “deliver redistricting data to all states by September 30, 2021.”

Santos did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment, but he 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.”

– CNBC’s Tucker Higgins contributed to this report.

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