Spotlight Exclusives

Congressional Briefing Underscores Importance of Access to Good Data

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Last week, a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill shed light on a mounting problem not often discussed in the national conversation: more and more Americans are not participating in critical federal surveys such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the National Survey of Child Health, that capture important information about the U.S. population in areas such as socioeconomic status, housing and demographics.


For policymakers, advocates and researchers, this means that collecting accurate information about who is poor in America and which anti-poverty programs are effective has become far more challenging. The event, sponsored by the American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS), the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Academies’ Committee on National Statistics, Sage Publications and the Russell Sage Foundation, referred to a report released by AAPSS that illustrates the threat “nonresponse” poses for those in the poverty field, as well as for businesses and the general public.


This briefing comes at a time when several federal policymakers have introduced legislation that would make it optional for residents across the country to complete the ACS, citing it as unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy. In an article in POLITICO, AAPSS Executive Director Tom Kecskemethy argues that making survey participation optional would be “a crippling blow to the statistical infrastructure of the United States.” A panel of experts at the briefing noted that without good data, understanding the nation’s needs will become increasingly difficult and called for new ideas to better facilitate the collection of this critical information.

Posted by Tamanna

Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn’t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and their impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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