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Name: Groves, Robert
Current Position: Former Director

On April 2, 2009, President Obama nominated Dr. Robert M. Groves to be the next Director of the Census Bureau and he was confirmed on July 13. Groves, who will direct the 2010 Census, is a generally uncontroversial professor of sociology  However, his nomination was contentious because his support for using statistical sampling, a statistical method commonly used to correct for errors and biases in the census, raised the ire of Republican critics, who believe that sampling would benefit minorities and the poor, who generally vote Democratic. Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that apportionment of House seats must be based on the Census’s physical enumeration of Americans without use of statistical sampling, the Census Bureau could still use sampling in reporting figures used to draw Congressional districts and award federal funds for various programs. After serving for three years, Groves announced his resignation on April 10, 2012, (effective in August) in order to take the position of provost of Georgetown University.

Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Groves earned an AB in sociology from Dartmouth College in 1970, Master’s degrees in Sociology and Statistics from the University of Michigan in 1973, and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 1975. He has spent his entire academic career at the University of Michigan, where he is now Research Professor of Sociology, starting his academic career there in 1975 as a Lecturer. He left Ann Arbor for brief stints as a Visiting Professor at the Center for Surveys, Methods and Analysis in Mannheim, Germany (now part of the GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences) in 1987 and 1997, and at Statistics Sweden in Stockholm in 1989. Since 2001, Groves has been the Director of the prestigious University of Michigan Survey Research Center, one of the leading academic institutions in the field, which conducts the closely followed Consumer Survey and other studies. During the course of his career, Groves has published eight books and numerous articles. 
A specialist in survey methodology and statistics, Groves is no stranger to the Census Bureau, whose decennial census is one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated statistical exercises. Groves served there early in his career as a Visiting Statistician in 1982, and later as Associate Director of Statistical Design, Standards, and Methodology from 1990 to 1992. It was during the latter period that Groves became embroiled in the controversy over the proposed use of statistical sampling to correct known biases and deficiencies in the Census head count. Groves and others at the Census Bureau proposed using sampling techniques to correct an admitted 1.2% undercount in the 1990 Census, which failed to include millions of homeless, minority and poor persons mainly living in big cities, which lost millions of dollars in federal funds when Republican Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher vetoed the sampling proposal. 
Republicans reacted negatively to Groves’s nomination by President Barack Obama. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said that he found it “an incredibly troubling selection that contradicts the administration’s assurances that the census process would not be used to advance an ulterior political agenda.” Likewise, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) warned that, “With the nomination of Robert Groves, President Obama has made clear that he intends to employ the political manipulation of census data for partisan gain.” On the other hand, Mark Blumenthal, publisher and editor of the nonpartisan website retorted that, “the notion of Bob Groves yielding to partisanship is laughable. As in rolling on the floor laughing out loud laughable.” 
Should Statistical Sampling be Used in the United States Census? (by K. Lee Lerner and M.C. Nagel, Science
Why the 2010 Census Stirs Up Partisan Politics (by Amy Sullivan, Time Magazine)
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