President Obama on Thursday selected Robert M. Groves to be the next census director, turning to a survey researcher who has clashed with Republicans over the use of statistical sampling to lead the high-stakes head count.
The census, which has been beset by partisan bickering, is used to apportion House seats and allocate federal money.
Groves was a Census Bureau associate director of statistical design from 1990 to 1992. If confirmed by the Senate, he will take the helm less than a year before the census.
Groves, 60, has spent decades researching ways to improve survey response rates, helping design surveys for agencies including the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Environmental Protection Agency.
House Republicans expressed dismay over the selection, saying Groves raised serious questions about Obama’s political intentions.
“We will have to watch closely to ensure the 2010 census is conducted without attempting . . . statistical sleight of hand,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).