WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rand Paul has urged the U.S. Census Bureau to finalize a proposed rule change for the 2020 census that would count all deployed service members at the base or port in which they resided prior to deployment instead of by their home of record, an address they gave when they enlisted. The Bureau’s previous method resulted in 2010 census data that improperly represented areas including Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

“As a result of using inaccurate and missing records for the tabulation of deployed service members, the surrounding military communities, which support the families of those service members, were calculated to have a lower population than what should be attributed to the community,” Dr. Paul wrote in a letter to U.S. Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson.

“By counting deployed service members according to where they actually live, the Bureau will receive more accurate reports of population and ensure communities have the needed resources to support these soldiers and their families,” said Dr. Paul.

Since hearing from his constituents about the inaccurate reporting, Dr. Paul has led the effort to enact change, including contacting the Bureau directly and introducing legislation, the “Service Members and Communities Count Act,” in multiple sessions of Congress to ensure all deployed service members are correctly reported.

The Census Bureau is taking comments on the proposed change through August 1. Dr. Paul encourages the public to submit their comments in support of the revised counting method HERE.

You can find the full text of the letter HERE or below.

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Dear Director Thompson:

I write in regards to the Census Bureau’s Proposed Criteria and Request for Comment on the 2020 Decennial Census Residence Rule and Residence Situations (Docket No: 160526465-6465-01) published in the Federal Register on June 30, 2016, to propose certain changes to the residence criteria used to determine where people are counted during each decennial census.  I would like to offer support for the proposed changes specifically Rule 13(f) regarding the counting of deployed service members “at the U.S. residence where they live and sleep most of the time.”  This change will insure that my constituents are accurately represented in the upcoming 2020 Census. 

The results of the 2010 Census displayed an anomaly that misrepresented the counting of deployed service members for overseas contingency operations.  These service members, despite not having a change in their permanent duty station, and who return to their duty station upon completion of their deployment, were counted in accordance with Rule 9(f) of the 2010 Census Residence Rule and Residence Situations:

(f) U.S. military personnel living on or off a military installation outside of the U.S. including dependents living with them – Count as part of the U.S. overseas population.  They should not be included on any U.S. census questionnaire

The Census Bureau attributes U.S. overseas population to the state on an individual’s home-of-record.  This practice may work well for members of the Department of State or other government agencies operating outside of the United States, but the Department of Defense fails to properly, and accurately, maintain their records.  According to the “2010 Census Federally Affiliated Overseas Count Operation Assessment Report,” dated March 19, 2012, “only 59 percent of the 2010 Department of Defense Records contained a home of record.” 

As a result of using inaccurate and missing records for the tabulation of deployed service members, the surrounding military communities, which support the families of those service members, were calculated to have a lower population than what should be attributed to the community. 

My constituents residing in the region around Fort Campbell, Kentucky, experienced this first-hand following the 2010 census.  Despite record home sales, increased public school enrollment, and other economic indicators supporting population growth, the calculated population remained relatively unchanged from the 2000 Census.  The only explanation for the discrepancy is the deployment of service members from Fort Campbell to Afghanistan.  

Starting in late 2009 and continuing through 2010, members of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Brigade Combat teams of the 101st, the 101st Sustainment Brigade, the 159th and 101st Combat Aviation brigades were all deployed to sustain the military “surge” in Afghanistan.  It is estimated that at least 10,000 service members were deployed at the collection time of the 2010 Census.  Those service members then returned to Fort Campbell at the end of their deployment.

I request that the Census Bureau maintain and implement the proposed changes to the “2020 Residence Rule and Residence Situations” as drafted.  This will create one consistent and logical method for counting deployed service members.  By counting deployed service members according to where they actually live, the Bureau will receive more accurate reports of population and ensure communities have the needed resources to support these soldiers and their families.    

Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration of these proposed changes. 

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