WASHINGTON (CNN) – In the first monthly briefing in the run-up to the start of the 2010 Census, the director of the Census Bureau was frank Wednesday about the constant political pressures his agency is under but the Census Director Robert Groves insisted that the upcoming national count will be conducted in a nonpartisan way.
"There are tugs on us daily to get into the political fray," Groves said in a press conference at the National Press Club Wednesday. "It's my firm belief that the basis of credibility of the Census rests on the belief of the American public that we are nonpartisan and we're apolitical and we're a professional statistical bureau. And I need to fight that battle daily."
Groves called use of census data in reapportionment, the process of determining how many seats there will be in the House of Representatives, an "inherently, explicitly political" use of his agency's information that "is proper, that's constitutional, the founders thought about it. It's a great idea."
"What we have to do," Groves added, "is to acknowledge that the product of what we do has political uses but the process can never be politicized."
Concerns voiced mostly by conservatives and congressional Republicans about the Census Bureau's relationship with embattled community organizing group ACORN recently led the agency to put an end to the group's involvement in outreach for the upcoming national count.
Asked about ACORN Wednesday, Groves said that the agency never had a contract with the controversial group, which had been planning to work with the agency on an entirely voluntary basis.
"When one of our partners produces problems in the overall mission of the Census, then we have to rethink that [relationship]," said Groves.
"I want to carefully say that the people served by ACORN are important to us. We need their participation in the Census," Groves also said.
Groves also said his agency is operationally on target to begin the next constitutionally-mandated national head count, which takes place every 10 years, roughly six months from now.
Updated: 2:41 p.m.