Umatilla County Commissioner George Murdock is one of six commissioners across the nation selected to participate in the National Association of Counties (NACo) Census 2020 Working Group.
Murdock, who is no stranger to the census, has been a driving force in Umatilla County’s local efforts. His interest in the census started in his childhood, when his mother was a census taker. Over a year ago, Umatilla County, hearing the pressing need to jumpstart census awareness in the community, established a “Complete Count Committee” with the main objective to identify the hard to count populations across the county. “One of the reasons we are so interested in the count is that there is a definite feeling that we undercounted the last time around,” Murdock said. “There’s a real will to make it accurate.” Nearly $900 billion in federal funds are on the line from direct allocations related to the census. Through his work with NACo and in the county, Murdock estimates up to $1.5 trillion could be impacted through the count.
One of the top issues among local, state, and national groups for ensuring a complete and accurate count is identifying the hard to count population. “When we’re talking about the hard to count population, counties don’t realize, they’re uniquely positioned,” commented Murdock. “In one way or another, the county touches most of the people who are hard to count. I’m not sure there’s another entity that has as much potential contact with the hard to count population as counties. I think that’s why it makes so much sense to me to have counties involved.”
The working group is charged with communicating the importance of the census for rural and urban counties and will strategically advise, provide feedback on, and disseminate programmatic resources for counties. NACo will be supporting the role of the working group by developing tools and resources for counties over the next six to eight months, including webinars. “We have a real opportunity here. The people who are hardest to count are the ones who will benefit the most from the resources that we’ll get in return,” commented Murdock. “I’m glad NACo is convening this working group; I’m glad Oregon is interested in the census.”
The official kick off of the constitutionally-mandated 2020 U.S. Census is in January. From January through Spring and Summer of 2020, outreach and counting activities will be heightened across the country. County officials will play a critical role in supporting the effective administration of an accurate and complete count, and will be instrumental in organizing local efforts with trusted partners to ensure their communities receive their full share of federal resources that are in great part influenced by figures captured in the decennial census.
NACo Working Group members include:
Jason Brinkley, Cooke County, TX
Stanley Moore, Cook County, IL
Lena Fowler, Coconino County, AZ
George Murdock, Umatilla County, OR
Ilene Shapiro, Summit County, OH
John Wilson, King County, WA
The U.S. Census recently released a toolkit for state and local officials, click here to access the toolkit.
Be on the lookout for NACo and state information related to complete and accurate counts.
Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate