Chair Grijalva, Delegates Make Bipartisan GAO Request to Identify Data Collection Gaps for the U.S. Territories

Washington D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and the delegates of the five U.S Territories—American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—sent a request last week to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine gaps in federal agency data collection for the territories. The request also asks GAO to determine the impact of those gaps on federal funding for the territories and to make policy recommendations. 

The full letter is available here: https://bit.ly/37aQoz7

In the letter, the lawmakers point out that shortcomings in federal agency’s data collection efforts for the U.S. Territories have already had long-term impacts. Without reliable population, economic, labor force and agricultural data, the territories have been underfunded and underrepresented in certain federal programs. Complicating data collection efforts further, GAO reported last year that natural disasters, which have been especially devastating in the U.S. Territories, and the COVID-19 pandemic created additional obstacles for data collection during the 2020 Census.

“Current and complete information is essential to good decision-making ... Improving the government’s capacity for collection and analysis of data is critical in understanding issues related to the U.S. Territories,” the authors write.

The letter is signed by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-CNMI), Rep. Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam), Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI), Rep. Jenniffer González-Colon (R-Puerto Rico), and Rep. Aumua Amata Radewagen (R-American Samoa).

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