February 6, 2023

U.S. census papers are depicted in New York City in this photo illustration.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he would appoint Robert Santos as director of the Census Bureau. If sustained, Santos would be the first black person to hold that position.

Santos, who is Hispanic, would head the agency, which is responsible for polling the population every 10 years in order to determine the distribution of the funds to the states and their political representation.

He is an expert in sampling, survey design, and social / policy research with over 40 years of experience, the White House said.

Biden’s most recent election continues his campaign promise to create a diverse administration that “looks like America,” Biden said.

Santos is currently the vice president of the Statistics Methods Group at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC. In that role, he had been a critic of the bureau and co-authored a 2019 report warning that the 2020 census could severely under-count minorities.

The Census Bureau became a political football during the Trump administration when then-President Donald Trump and his allies pushed for undocumented immigrants to be banned from the census.

Trump Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham resigned in January on charges of politicizing the agency, which is part of the trade division.

The 2020 US census results have been delayed due to challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing litigation. According to the US Government Accountability Office, the count should now be completed on April 30, 2021 and “deliver redistribution data to all states by September 30, 2021”.

Santos did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment, but said in a statement to NPR: “The principles of transparency, scientific independence and integrity will be critical to the Census Bureau’s thriving and innovation over the next decade can. ”

– CNBC’s Tucker Higgins contributed to this report.