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Senate Confirms Groves as Census Director

By Wall Street Journal, Wall Street Journal - July 14, 2009

WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Monday confirmed Robert Groves as director of the Census Bureau, ending months of delay tactics by Republican lawmakers and clearing the way for final preparations for next year's decennial count.

Dr. Groves, director of the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, easily cleared the Homeland Security Committee in May. But action by the full Senate was delayed by Republican lawmakers, who feared he would use statistical sampling, a controversial method used to correct for the undercounting of certain populations.

Dr. Groves, widely considered an expert in sampling, assured Congress sampling wouldn't be used. Also, Republicans later raised concerns about the community group Acorn's involvement in the count.

Republican Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and David Vitter of Louisiana had holds on Dr. Groves's nomination until the vote Monday evening, but Democrats were able to muster enough votes to clear the nomination.

Messrs. Shelby and Vitter spoke out against Dr. Groves on the Senate floor late Monday afternoon, citing letters they wrote to President Barack Obama expressing concern about Acorn, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, that the White House didn't answer. Acorn, one of thousands of partners in the 2010 Census, has a role in publicizing the count and helping to recruit enumerators.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said the 2010 Census "faces significant challenges" and Dr. Groves will "run the agency with the integrity and independence demanded by the Constitution and expected by the American people."

The Obama administration assured gay leaders that same-sex couples would be reflected in Census data for the first time, forcing the bureau to revamp computer software less than a year before the count. Furthermore, some illegal immigrants joined in a boycott with Latino religious leaders that may threaten the integrity of the census.

Dr. Groves will likely be sworn by Mr. Locke in at a ceremony next week at the bureau's headquarters in Suitland, Md.

Write to Jake Sherman at Jacob.Sherman@wsj.com

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