Robert Groves

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Robert Groves
23rd Director of the United States Census Bureau
In office
July 15, 2009 – August 11, 2012
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byThomas Mesenbourg (Acting)
Succeeded byThomas Mesenbourg (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1948-09-27) September 27, 1948 (age 75)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Alma materDartmouth College (BA)
University of Michigan (MA, PhD)

Robert Martin Groves (born September 27, 1948)[1] is an American sociologist and expert in survey methodology who has served as the Executive Vice President and Provost of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. since August 2012. He also served as the Director of the United States Census Bureau from 2009 to 2012.

Early life[edit]

Groves was born in Kansas City, Missouri, grew up in Metairie, Louisiana, and graduated in 1966 from De La Salle High School in New Orleans.[1][2]


In 1970, Groves graduated (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Dartmouth College with an A.B. degree[3] in sociology.[4] He later earned two M.A. degrees (sociology and statistics, both 1973) and a PhD (sociology, 1975) from the University of Michigan.[4][5]

Academic career[edit]

For much of his career, starting in 1975, Groves worked as a research professor in survey methodology at the University of Michigan. He was also a researcher in the Joint Program in Survey Methodology, housed at the University of Maryland, College Park. In August 2012, he became the Provost of Georgetown University, succeeding James J. O'Donnell[6] and is also the Gerard J. Campbell, S.J. Professor in the Math and Statistics Department as well as the Sociology Department.[7]

In 1982 Groves was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.[8] He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011 and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[6]

Government career[edit]

When Groves was an associate director at the United States Census Bureau in the early 1990s, he argued that potentially millions of minorities who typically voted Democratic were being undercounted. Groves advocated for the use of statistical adjustments to account for this discrepancy. George H. W. Bush's Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher blocked this suggestion. The Census Bureau is a component of the U.S. Department of Commerce.[4]

On April 2, 2009, Groves was nominated by President Barack Obama to head the Census Bureau.[9] During his confirmation hearings, Republican senators raised concerns based on Groves' previous actions that he would apply statistical adjustments to populations believed to be undercounted, thereby inflating their numbers and affecting the apportionment of congressional seats. Groves ruled out the use of statistical adjustments during the hearings and his nomination quickly proceeded to the full Senate in May. However, senators Richard Shelby and David Vitter continued to delay his confirmation due to lingering worries regarding statistical adjustments. They also sought assurance from the Obama administration that the controversial community group ACORN would not be involved in grassroots outreach related to the 2010 Census. On July 13, 2009, after several weeks of opposition by the two senators, Senate majority leader Harry Reid used a procedural motion to force a vote that confirmed Groves, 76-15.[10] He took office July 15, 2009.[11][12]

On June 13, 2014, President Obama announced his appointment of Groves to the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation.[13]

Publishing history[edit]

Groves is the author of several books, including:

  • Surveying Victims (2008) ISBN 0-309-11598-1
  • Survey Errors and Survey Costs (2004) first published in 1989 ISBN 0-471-67851-1, and named "one of the 50 most influential books in survey research" by the American Association for Public Opinion Research[7]
  • Survey Methodology (2010) Second edition of the (2004) first edition ISBN 0-471-48348-6
  • Survey Nonresponse (2001) ISBN 0-471-39627-3
  • Nonresponse in Household Interview Surveys (1998) ISBN 0-471-18245-1

Groves is the editor of several books, including:


  1. ^ a b Morello, Carol (2010-03-31). "Groves brings scholarly depth to bear in leading census, winning over critics". Washington Post. p. A15. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  2. ^ Michelle Krupa (August 19, 2009). "Census boss plans special efforts". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  3. ^ Rucker, Philip (2009-04-02). "Transportation and Education Depts. Get Key Nominees". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  4. ^ a b c Stout, David (2009-04-02). "Former Census Official Reportedly in Line to Head Agency". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  5. ^ "Curriculum Vitae Robert M. Groves" (PDF). September 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau director Robert Groves to be next Provost | Vox Populi". Archived from the original on 2014-11-04.
  7. ^ a b "Provost Robert Groves". Georgetown University. Retrieved August 22, 2023.
  8. ^ View/Search Fellows of the ASA, accessed 2016-10-15.
  9. ^ O'Keefe, Ed (2009-04-03). "With 2010 Census Looming, Obama Chooses Survey Expert to Run Bureau". The Washington Post. p. A17. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  10. ^ Yen, Hope (2009-07-13). "Senate confirms Obama's pick to lead 2010 census". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
  11. ^ "Robert M. Groves, Director" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. July 16, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-30. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  12. ^ "History: Robert M. Groves". United States Census Bureau. July 20, 2009. Archived from the original on July 31, 2009. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  13. ^

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Director of the Census Bureau
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Provost of Georgetown University