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Matt reported last night the Bill Richardson will be appointed as Secretary of Commerce today. I realized I didn't know enough about the Department of Commerce, and decided to investigate their site.
What, I wondered, would be of most interest to Governor Richardson? While I don't pretend to know his interests, what struck me first is that Commerce is over the Bureau of the Census.
This means that one of Richardson's challenges will be the 2010 decennial count. Back in the 90's there was a lot of discussion on whether there should be a direct count, or a projected estimate based on the number of people missed because they refused to respond. The Census numbers affect aid from the Fed to States based on population and the number of Congressmen/Congresswomen accorded each state, amoung other things.
How we count population is not strictly a numerical output, there are overriding political considerations. These relate to the counting of undocumented immigrants, as well as revisiting statistical sampling, and post-enumeration surveys to account for consistently undercounted groups, like African Americans.
I greatly respect Bill Richardson for all of his accomplishments. I believe he would have made a terrific Secretary of State. Any position filled by the Governor is worthwhile. But suddenly, in seeing that Commerce oversees the Census, the pick suddenly made a lot more sense.