Yesterday morning, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Census Bureau Director Bob Groves stepped up to press conference mikes to announce that the Census Bureau is giving back $1.6 billion of its $7.6 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2010. Half of this 22 percent savings comes from unused contingency funds, set aside in case of natural disaster or operational breakdown.
Yesterday, we welcomed the arrival of a clusters-based regional innovation program in H.R. 5116, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. This development is great news--America’s signal piece of innovation legislation has now been made to recognize the essential role of regional networks in maximizing U.S. competitiveness. Following the proposals of our 2008 clusters policy paper, the act may soon gain a two-pronged cluster effort--grants to local cluster initiatives and a cluster research and information program.
In Washington, it’s the season for many things—spring flowers, baseball, political speech (always in season), and House and Senate appropriations subcommittees delving into the minutiae of the president’s proposed $3.7 trillion budget for FY2011. Scattered among the nooks and crannies of this massive document are the plans for the multiple agencies in the nation’s decentralized statistical system.
Last week, President Obama signed the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act, an amalgam of six separate appropriations bills providing $447 billion to an array of federal departments. A small fraction of this funding is devoted to supporting federal statistical agencies that generate the demographic, economic, and social data that will help metros better understand themselves. Federal statistics are essential to public policy and private enterprise. At the same time, they are incredibly cheap and, unlike grants, can be used over and over again.
America continues to grope toward the development of an effective innovation strategy as part of a credible push toward economic reinvention. Notably, in September President Obama--through a solid white paper and a good Troy, N.Y.
Yesterday, in a straight party-line vote, the Senate voted 60-39 to approve cloture on H.R. 2847, the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill. This action effectively blocks consideration of Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Robert Bennett’s (R-Utah) controversial amendment to bar implementation of the 2010 Census unless it collected data on citizenship and immigration status for each respondent. Through this move, the Senate assures that the 2010 Census will be carried out on time, within the existing budget, and with relative accuracy.