The United States Census Bureau provides data about the nation’s people and economy. While that data is used by our government for planning and redistricting purposes, there are private sector applications as well – especially for businesses. DeVere Kutscher, Principal with Public Private Strategies
discusses the importance of census accuracy and its effect on businesses making informed decisions.
Traynham: The U.S. census provides the foundation for redistricting at all levels of government. Additionally, the census and the American Community Survey also helps the private sector make informed business decisions, such as where to place new store locations, how to target marketing campaigns, and so much more. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Robert Traynham. Why else is the census so critical from a business perspective? Joining me to answer that question is DeVere Kutscher, principal with Public Private Strategies. DeVere, welcome to the program.
Kutscher: Thank you for having me, Robert.
Traynham: So, I just want to go down civics lane, if you will, 101. The Constitution mandates that every 10 years, we do this, which is to count ourselves. A lot of people think it´s just big government knocking on your door, trying to find out who´s living up in the attic, but it´s so much more than that. As I mentioned a few moments ago, it is, obviously, funding for health purposes. It´s everything from reapportionate of the government spending and so forth, but it´s also for businesses out there to, as I mentioned a few moments ago, "Where do I put this store? Where do I grow? Where do I shrink?" No?
Kutscher: Absolutely. The census for us is, the way we look at it, is really an economic imperative. It is the single largest source of data that American business has about the American demographics, the American economy. Really, pretty much every other study relating to marketing, to planning, to forecasting, has its roots in the data collected in the census, so it is pretty much indispensable for any sort of business -- large and small -- going into the next decade.
Traynham: So, is it safe to say, DeVere, that it is imperative for the folks that are watching this program at home or perhaps on their smart device to actually fill out that census form to provide the data, if they feel comfortable, to not only help the government, but also help business?
Kutscher: Absolutely. It is something -- that´s the part we concern ourselves with, and there really are a lot of barriers to the success of the census. And one of the things that -- we wish it were that easy, to just encourage folks to go in and fill out the data, but unfortunately, we´re seeing a unique set of challenges for the 2020 census. The chief among them is underfunding, and unfortunately, the budgets have been cut, essentially. The census can spend no more than it did on the 2010 census, which the country was smaller, there were fewer people to count, it was less complicated. And there is also currently a leadership vacuum with neither the Bureau Director nor Deputy in place, and so we´re going into this with some serious challenges financially for the Bureau and in the sense of leadership and technology, as well.
Traynham: DeVere, I must confess, I don´t hear from the business community on this topic. Is that on purpose? In other words, are they remaining quiet because this is more of a government thing or, to your earlier point, about lack of resources, should they raise awareness so that to rally people´s opinions around this topic?
Kutscher: That´s exactly what we´re here to do. So, the company that I´m with, Public Private Strategies, is aiming to do exactly that. And that is to help the business leaders understand why this is important to them, why this is something that they should be turning their attention to, and also how to engage, so business has a unique voice. There´s an opportunity here for business big and small to weigh in with Congress, to put some muscle behind this request.
Kutscher: Resources, awareness to actually push for instituting new leadership and for increased financing for the 2020 census, as well as a chance to lend technical expertise and their reach.
Traynham: You know, DeVere, you mentioned something -- we got about 45 seconds left -- that I want to go back on, and that is resources, because what you saw with Hurricane Katrina and some other natural disasters, the private sector actually helped the public sector get resources to that particular area. Are you suggesting that perhaps the private sector could help the government in the census-collection data?
Kutscher: Absolutely. And, again, that is something that we´re hoping to engage the business community on is realizing the potential that the business community has to assist in this and to reach in areas where the government might not be able to or to expand that reach in terms of hard-to-count communities, in terms of, you know, diverse geographies. Absolutely. This is something that is a key role for the private sector, and we hope to convene private-sector leaders and help them understand how exactly they can lend support to this.
Traynham: Well, DeVere, I look forward to having you back on the program, probably after 2020 to see, in fact, how the census went.
Kutscher: Thank you, Robert.
Traynham: Appreciate it. And thank you for joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I´m Robert Traynham. Have a great day.