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Senior fed is Trump's pick to lead Census Bureau

U.S. Census headquarters in Suitland MD 

U.S. Census headquarters in Suitland, Md. (Photo courtesy: Census Bureau)

President Donald Trump nominated senior Peace Corps official Steven Dillingham to be the next permanent director of the Census Bureau.

The decision was announced July 18, as the bureau wraps up its critical 2018 end-to-end test, the dress rehearsal for the main event in 2020.

Dillingham, currently Director of the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning at Peace Corps, was tapped fill out the five-year term of John Thompson, whose resignation went into effect June 2017. Since then, longtime census veteran Ron Jarmin has headed the bureau in an acting capacity.

Dillingham has previous served as director of two statistical agencies: the Bureau of Justice Statistics within the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics within the Department of Transportation. His federal experience also includes time in the Office of General Counsel at the Department of Energy and the Office of Personnel Management, plus as a special counsel on criminal law for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I look forward to working with all of my future colleagues as we prepare for the decennial census and ensure timely and accurate data are delivered to the American people," Dillingham said in a statement.

If confirmed by the Senate, Dillingham would take over a bureau currently facing a range of unique challenges with less than 21 months before Census Day 2020. Dillingham’s term would last through 2021.

Census is preparing to carry out its first-ever electronically based decennial, and the bureau faces challenges related to IT acquisition and deployment, cybersecurity as well as lawsuits protesting the controversial decision to restore a question on citizenship status last included in the 1950 population count.

The bureau still lacks a permanent deputy director since Nancy Potok's departure in January 2017. Enrique Lamas, another longtime Census veteran, has been serving as acting deputy director since June 2017.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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