Federal Eye: Clinton-Era Census Director Coming Back?

Dr. Kenneth Prewitt, who served as director of the U.S. Census Bureau from 1998 to 2001, is a leading candidate to serve as director once again, according to an administration official and several people familiar with the Census process.

During an interview this morning on CNBC, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said “The person that the White House has proposed to manage the Census, Ken Prewitt, did it in 2000 when I was chairman of the appropriations committee that had oversight over the commerce department and I thought he did an excellent job.”

Currently a professor of Public Affairs at Columbia University, Prewitt gave no comment when asked about the matter earlier this week, stating the final decision is “in the hands of the administration.”

“There are lots of fans of Ken Prewitt on the Hill, especially among Democrats, but he has bipartisan support,” said one Congressional aide familiar with the Census process. “He worked hard at bipartisan relations and worked on aggressive outreach to Republicans” to address concerns.

Following his tenure, Prewitt authored, “The American People 2000: Politics and Science in Census Taking,” an extensive 50-page personal recollection of the Census process and a historical review of the constitutionally-mandated headcount. While it focuses primarily on the science and methodology of the Census, Prewitt also comments on potential political interference with the count — concerns raised this week by Republicans.

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