There are a variety of areas where we expect the data only to improve. Part of it is coming from the work that we’re doing with O.M.B. on setting statistical standards.

It would be nice if we could encourage states to abide by those too, to embrace those standards, but that is a state choice. Maybe it would be nice if the commercial sector adopted those standards, but sometimes that’s in conflict with what the Census Bureau needs.

The 2020 census questions about race and ethnicity led to seismic shifts in how people characterized their race and ethnicity, which confused many people. Is there a better way to ensure that answers to that question are more accurate?

There are certainly ways to come to ask questions to more accurately collect self-identity. Our country not only is becoming more wonderfully diverse, but we’re also appreciating culture and ancestry in ways that maybe didn’t exist 20 years ago with the advent of DNA testing and finding where your roots and ancestors are with genealogy and so forth. We’re appreciating who we are more, and I think that’s a beautiful thing and we should be capturing that.

I don’t think it’s useful to superimpose somebody else’s idea on what race or ethnicity you are, and instead I tend to prefer that people self-identify. But I leave it to our wonderful subject matter experts and demographers and O.M.B. and our federal statistical community to discuss.

Political interference was a big problem in 2020. Are there steps that Congress or the administration could take to better protect the bureau from inappropriate political interference?

I can tell you that I have thoughts, but I will not communicate them. I don’t think it’s the role of the Census Bureau to be advising Congress on what it can be doing. What I can say with confidence is that regardless of what the structure is I have absolutely 100 percent confidence in the career staff to maintain scientific integrity and reduce and eliminate any political meddling, including my own by the way.

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