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entitled '2010 Census: Census Bureau Is Making Progress on the Local 
Update of Census Addresses Program, but Improvements Are Needed' which 
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Testimony: 

Before the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National 
Archives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of 
Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

For Release on Delivery Expected at 2:00 p.m., EDT: 

Tuesday, June 26, 2007: 

2010 Census: 

Census Bureau Is Making Progress on the Local Update of Census 
Addresses Program, but Improvements Are Needed: 

Statement of Mathew J. Scirè: 
Director, Strategic Issues: 

GAO-07-1063T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-07-1063T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on 
Information Policy, Census, and National Archives, Committee on 
Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) seeks updated 
information on the addresses and maps of housing units from state, 
local, and tribal governments through the Local Update of Census 
Addresses (LUCA) program. This testimony discusses (1) the status of 
the LUCA program, and (2) the Bureau’s response to prior issues raised 
by GAO as well as new challenges related to the program. 

The testimony is based on a GAO report issued on June 14, 2007. GAO 
reviewed LUCA program documents, met with and surveyed participants in 
the LUCA Dress Rehearsal, and interviewed Bureau officials and local 
officials. 

What GAO Found: 

The Bureau has conducted its planned LUCA operations in accordance with 
its published timeline. The Bureau has also taken steps to reduce 
burden and improve training for localities that participate in LUCA—all 
areas GAO and others had identified as needing improvement. For 
instance, to reduce participant burden, the Bureau provided a longer 
period for reviewing and updating LUCA materials; provided options for 
submitting materials for the LUCA program; combined the collection of 
LUCA addresses from two separate operations into one integrated 
program; and created MAF/TIGER Partnership Software (MTPS), which is 
designed to assist LUCA program participants in reviewing and updating 
address and map data. Also, the Bureau has planned improvements to the 
2010 LUCA program training and plans to supplement the workshops with 
computer-based training (CBT). 

Figure: 2008 LUCA Dress Rehearsal Program Schedule: 

[See PDF for Image] 

Source: U.S. Census Bureau and GAO analysis. 

[End of figure] 

LUCA participants that GAO surveyed report that they had adequate time 
to complete the LUCA review, and a majority of the participants were 
satisfied with the options for submitting materials. However, the 
Bureau faces new challenges. For instance, the Bureau tested MTPS with 
only one local government and did not test its CBT software in the LUCA 
Dress Rehearsal. Also, many participants had difficulty converting 
Bureau-provided files to their own software formats. Finally, the 
Bureau does not collect certain data on localities that agree to 
participate in LUCA but provide no response. This information is needed 
to fully assess the effect of the LUCA program on address lists and 
population counts. 

What GAO Recommends: 

At this time, GAO is not making any new recommendations, but GAO’s June 
2007 report recommended that the Secretary of Commerce direct the 
Bureau to take several actions to improve the LUCA program, including 
further assessing usability issues of the MAF/TIGER Partnership 
Software (MTPS) and the computer-based training (CBT) software, as well 
as providing further instructions on converting files. GAO also 
recommended that the Bureau collect additional data on localities that 
agree to participate but provide no response. 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-1063T]. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Mathew J. Scirè at (202) 
512-6806 or sciremj@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Turner, and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss the Census Bureau's (Bureau) 
progress in testing and implementing its Local Update of Census 
Addresses (LUCA) program. In 1994 Congress required the Bureau to 
develop a local address review program in order to give local and 
tribal governments greater input into the Bureau's address list 
development process.[Footnote 1] This program, LUCA, gives these 
governments the opportunity to review the accuracy and completeness of 
the Bureau's address information for their respective jurisdictions, 
and suggest corrections where warranted. In Census 2000, LUCA 
participants expressed frustrations about the program, including the 
burden the program placed on the resources of local governments. As a 
result, the Bureau undertook efforts in preparation for the 2010 LUCA 
to reduce this burden. My testimony today discusses (1) the current 
status of the LUCA effort, and (2) how the Bureau is addressing prior 
issues and new challenges associated with implementing LUCA. 

As you know, the census is a critical national effort mandated by the 
Constitution. Census data are used to apportion seats in the Congress, 
redraw congressional districts, allocate billions of dollars in federal 
assistance to state and local governments, and for numerous other 
public and private sector purposes. Hence, failure for the decennial is 
not an option and the Bureau employs a number of quality assurance 
programs throughout the course of the census to ensure it delivers 
quality data. One such program is LUCA. The success of LUCA can help to 
contribute to accurate address lists and precise maps, which are key to 
a quality census. Together, accurate address lists and maps help ensure 
that (1) questionnaires are properly delivered; (2) unnecessary and 
costly follow-up efforts at vacant and nonexistent residences are 
reduced; and (3) the population is counted in their proper locations, 
which is the basis of congressional apportionment and redistricting. 

My remarks today are based primarily on our recent report on how the 
Bureau has improved its LUCA program since the last decennial.[Footnote 
2] During the autumn of 2006, we observed preparations for and the 
conduct of LUCA for the 2008 Dress Rehearsal in sites located in North 
Carolina and California. We reviewed LUCA program documents and 
interviewed Bureau officials. Further, we conducted a Web-based survey 
of LUCA Dress Rehearsal participants in California and North Carolina 
to gauge their satisfaction with how the Bureau addressed prior 
recommendations and new challenges for the LUCA program. We also 
performed structured phone interviews with several localities that 
decided not to participate in the LUCA Dress Rehearsal.[Footnote 3] We 
conducted our work in accordance with generally accepted government 
auditing standards. 

In summary, Mr. Chairman, our recent work has shown that the Bureau has 
made progress in planning for and implementing LUCA. For example, the 
Bureau has completed nearly all of its planned LUCA Dress Rehearsal 
operations in accordance with its published timeline, and has taken 
steps to reduce participant workload and burden and improve training. 
However, the Bureau can do more to mitigate possible difficulties that 
participants may have with new LUCA software and training. 
Specifically, the Bureau could do more to assess the usability of 
software designed to assist LUCA participants in reviewing and updating 
address and map data and to test computer-based training. In addition, 
many participants in the Dress Rehearsal experienced problems 
converting Bureau-provided address files into their own software 
formats. The Bureau could do more to provide information to localities 
on how to convert files from the Bureau to their respective 
applications. 

We also found that the Bureau could do more to understand the effect 
that the LUCA program may have. For example, while the Bureau planned 
to assess the contribution of LUCA to housing unit counts, it had not 
decided whether to assess the contribution of the program to the 
population count, and it did not plan to collect information on the 
number of participants involved in LUCA that do not respond because 
they have no changes. The Bureau agreed to implement recommendations we 
made that address each of the concerns discussed above. We look forward 
to its action plan, due in August 2007, for how it will implement our 
recommendations. 

Background: 

The Bureau's approach to building complete and accurate address lists 
and maps consists of a series of operations that sometimes overlap and 
are conducted over several years. These operations include partnerships 
with the U.S. Postal Service and other federal agencies; state, local 
and tribal governments; local planning organizations; the private 
sector; and nongovernmental entities. LUCA is one of those operations 
that give local and tribal governments direct input into the Bureau's 
address database. 

LUCA was first implemented for the 2000 Census.[Footnote 4] Under the 
LUCA program, the Bureau is authorized (prior to the decennial census) 
to share individual residential addresses with officials of tribal, 
state, and local governments who agree to protect the Title 13 
confidentiality of the information.[Footnote 5] LUCA allows 
participants to review, comment on, and provide updated information on 
the list of addresses and maps that the Bureau will use to deliver 
questionnaires within their communities. According to the Bureau, 
because of their knowledge of or access to data in their jurisdictions, 
LUCA participants may be better positioned to identify some housing 
units that are hard to find or are hidden. For example, local 
governments may have alternate sources of address information--such as 
utility bills, tax records, information from housing or zoning 
officials, or 911 emergency systems--which can help the Bureau build a 
complete and accurate address list. 

For 2010, the Bureau plans to invite approximately 40,000 entities to 
participate in LUCA.[Footnote 6] After localities that opt to 
participate in LUCA have submitted their updated maps and address 
lists, the Bureau conducts a field check called address canvassing. At 
that time, the address canvassers for the 2010 Census, will go door-to- 
door (using handheld computers equipped with a global positioning 
system) updating the address list. Through the address canvassing 
operation, the Bureau can ensure that all changes submitted for the 
LUCA program actually exist and that they are assigned to the correct 
census block. After address canvassing the Bureau will provide feedback 
to LUCA participants on the actions taken. Should local governments 
disagree during LUCA 2010, they can appeal the Bureau's actions to the 
Census Address List Appeals Office. In preparation for the 2010 Census, 
both LUCA and the subsequent address canvassing operation will be 
tested as part of the Bureau's Dress Rehearsal taking place in nine 
counties in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area and San Joaquin 
County, California. 

The Bureau Has Completed Nearly All Planned Activities for the LUCA 
Dress Rehearsal and the First Step of the 2010 LUCA Program: 

The Bureau has completed nearly all planned operations for the LUCA 
Dress Rehearsal in accordance with the LUCA Dress Rehearsal timeline 
(see fig. 1).[Footnote 7] On June 26, 2007 the Bureau expects to 
complete address canvassing--an operation designed to verify all 
housing units at the Dress Rehearsal sites, including changes provided 
by LUCA participants. Next, the Dress Rehearsal participants will have 
the opportunity to review materials regarding their submissions--this 
is scheduled to take place from December 2007 through January 2008. 

The Bureau met the first date on its LUCA Dress Rehearsal timeline when 
it mailed the advance notification letters and informational materials 
to the highest elected officials in February 2006. The Bureau 
officially invited localities to participate in LUCA, provided 
participant training, and shipped LUCA materials on schedule. 
Additionally, localities reviewed and updated LUCA materials within the 
June to October 2006 period specified on the timeline. The Bureau also 
finished its review of participants' LUCA submissions and updated the 
MAF/TIGER[Footnote 8] geographic database in December 2006. 

Figure 1: Bureau's LUCA Dress Rehearsal Timeline and Status: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: U.S. Census Bureau and GAO analysis. 

[End of figure] 

It is important to note that while the Bureau generally met the time 
frames listed in its published LUCA Dress Rehearsal timeline, some 
activities were not included in that timeline. For example, plans to 
test newly developed software, which is intended to assist 
participating localities in their 2010 LUCA reviews, and test the new 
computer-based LUCA training were not included in the Bureau's LUCA 
Dress Rehearsal schedule--precluding the opportunity to test these 
software products under census-like conditions. 

To begin preparation for the 2010 Census, LUCA has already sent the 
advance notification letters to the highest elected officials in each 
of the eligible localities (see fig. 2). For Census 2000, slightly over 
half of the eligible localities chose not to participate; for the 2010 
Census, the Bureau has set a participation goal of 60 percent. 

Figure 2: Bureau's 2010 LUCA Timeline: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 

Note: See the Bureau's Web site, hyperlink, 
http://www.census.gov/geo/www/luca2010/luca.html. 

[End of figure] 

Bureau Modified LUCA to Address Issues from the Census 2000 Experience, 
but Faces New Challenges for 2010: 

The Bureau has taken steps to reduce participants' workloads and 
burdens and improve training--all areas that the National Research 
Council (NRC), we, and others had identified as needing improvement for 
Census 2000. Building on the progress it has made, the Bureau could 
take additional steps to address new challenges in these areas, as well 
as issues related to measuring overall program effectiveness. 

To reduce the workload and burden on LUCA participants, the Bureau 
provided a longer period--from 90 to 120 days--for reviewing and 
updating LUCA materials. This extension was well received by LUCA Dress 
Rehearsal participants, as the majority of respondents to our survey 
indicated that 120 days allowed adequate time for them to complete the 
LUCA review (see fig. 3). 

Figure 3: LUCA Dress Rehearsal Participants' Views on the Adequacy of 
Time Allowed to Complete the Review: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO Web-based survey of LUCA dress rehearsal participants. 

[End of figure] 

Another change aimed at reducing workload and burden is providing 
localities with more options for how they may participate in the LUCA 
program. Those options are: (1) full address list review with count 
review, (2) Title 13 local address list submission, and (3) non-Title 
13 local address list submission. The options differ in the level of 
review of Bureau materials by participating localities and in 
requirements to adhere to rules concerning confidentiality of 
information. For example, under option 1, participants directly edit 
Bureau-provided address lists and maps. Under option 2, participants 
review Bureau-provided maps but submit their own address lists in 
Bureau-provided formats. Under option 3, participants do not receive 
address lists from the Bureau, but may provide their own address lists 
to the Bureau and edit Bureau-provided maps. A majority of LUCA Dress 
Rehearsal participants that we surveyed were satisfied with the options 
that the Bureau provided. 

To assist LUCA participants in updating the Bureau's address list and 
maps electronically, the Bureau has created MAF/TIGER Partnership 
Software (MTPS). This software will enable users to import address 
lists and maps for comparison to the Bureau's data and participate in 
both the LUCA and another geographic program, the Boundary and 
Annexation Survey (BAS)[Footnote 9] at the same time. The Bureau has 
also planned improvements to the 2010 LUCA program training by 
separately offering specialized workshops for informational and 
technical training and by supplementing the workshops with computer- 
based training (CBT). Finally, based on complaints about the 
multiphased LUCA program from the 2000 experience (where some 
participants found the two separate operations for city-style and non- 
city-style addresses to be confusing), the Bureau designed the 2010 
LUCA program to be a single operation for all addresses. 

All of these steps are intended to help reduce the burden on 
localities' participation in LUCA. However, there are additional steps 
the Bureau could take to ease participant burden. For example, the 
Bureau could do more to assess the usability of the MTPS software. The 
Bureau did not test MTPS as part of the LUCA Dress Rehearsal, and 
tested MTPS with only one locality in preparation for the 2010 LUCA 
program. Properly executed user-based methods for software testing can 
give the truest estimate of the extent to which real users can employ a 
software application effectively, efficiently, and satisfactorily. In 
response to recommendations to our report on the 2010 LUCA program, the 
Bureau agreed to better assess the usability of the MTPS for 2010. 

Some participants will not rely on the MTPS. For these participants, 
the Bureau could do more to help them use their own software. We found 
that participants in the LUCA Dress Rehearsal experienced problems 
converting files from the Bureau's format to their respective 
applications--our survey of LUCA Dress Rehearsal participants revealed 
that the majority of respondents had, to some extent, problems with 
file conversions to appropriate formats. Our fieldwork also revealed 
issues pertaining to file conversion. For example, one local official 
noted that it took him two days to determine how to convert the 
Bureau's pipe-delimited files. The Bureau previously informed us that, 
to mitigate the potential burden on localities that choose not to use 
MTPS, it would provide technical guidance on file conversion through 
its LUCA technical help desk; however, it does not plan to provide 
instructions for converting Bureau-provided address files through other 
means. At present, the Bureau does not know how many localities will 
opt not to use MTPS for LUCA as part of the 2010 Census, but those 
localities may face the same challenges faced by participants in the 
LUCA Dress Rehearsal. In response to recommendations in our report on 
the 2010 LUCA program, the Bureau agreed to disseminate instructions on 
file conversion on its Web site and provide instructions to help desk 
callers. 

The Bureau did not test the CBT it developed to supplement its new 
workshops for informational and technical training during the Dress 
Rehearsal. Though participants were not provided with CBT in the LUCA 
Dress Rehearsal, our work found that this method of training is viewed 
by participants as helpful. Specifically, respondents to our survey 
ranked CBT higher than classroom training, in terms of being 
"extremely" or "very" useful. Additionally, local officials told us 
that CBT was more convenient for them because they need not leave their 
offices or adjust their schedules to learn how the LUCA program works. 
Because this is a new aspect of the LUCA program and will be used 
nationally, it is important to test and improve the training prior to 
implementing it for multiple local jurisdictions. In response to 
recommendations in our report on the 2010 LUCA program, the Bureau 
agreed to test the CBT software with local governments. 

Overall, the effect that the LUCA program may have on housing unit and 
population counts is not known. To perform such analysis, the Bureau 
should collect additional data. Specifically, we found that although 
the Bureau has not finalized its evaluation plans regarding the 2010 
LUCA program, Bureau officials have stated that it intends to assess 
the LUCA's contribution to housing unit counts and would consider a 
plan to assess the program's contribution to the census population 
count. Such analysis is important because it would provide a measure of 
the ultimate effect of LUCA on achieving a complete count of the 
population. However, the Bureau does not have a method of 
distinguishing between localities that agreed to participate in the 
program but do not submit an update because they have no changes, and 
localities that did not submit an update because they did not review 
the materials. Without this information, the Bureau cannot fully 
measure the extent to which local reviews have contributed toward 
accurate address lists and population counts. In response to 
recommendations in our report on the 2010 LUCA program, the Bureau 
agreed to establish a process for localities to indicate that they 
participated in LUCA but found no changes to address lists and maps. 

In summary, Mr. Chairman, the success of the census depends in large 
part on the ability of the Bureau to locate and deliver questionnaires 
to every household in the United States. To accomplish this monumental 
task, the Bureau must maintain accurate address and map information for 
every location where a person could reside. We applaud the moves the 
Bureau has undertaken to improve its LUCA program so that user workload 
and burden are reduced, thus, making it easier for local and tribal 
governments to provide input into the accuracy and completeness of the 
Bureau's address information for their respective jurisdictions. 
However, there is more the Bureau can do to address information- 
technology-based challenges to the LUCA program prior to the 2010 
Census. The Bureau performed little user testing of MTPS and no user 
testing of the CBT module for the LUCA Dress Rehearsal. Testing new 
technology will help the Bureau identify any issues related to the 
usability of the MTPS and CBT software. Finally, without better data on 
why some localities that agree to participate do not provide updated 
information, the Bureau may be hampered in its ability to estimate the 
effect of the LUCA program on the MAF database and the census 
population count. 

As in the past, we look forward to supporting this subcommittee's 
oversight efforts to promote a timely, complete, accurate, and cost- 
effective census. 

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Turner, this concludes my prepared statement. I would 
be pleased to respond to any questions that you or other members of the 
subcommittee might have. 

Contact and Acknowledgments: 

For questions regarding this testimony, please contact Mathew J. Scirè, 
on (202) 512-6806, or by e-mail at sciremj@gao.gov. Individuals making 
contributions to this testimony include Lisa Pearson, David Bobruff, 
Betty Clark, Jennifer Edwards, Ernie Hazera, Mark Ryan, and Tim Wexler. 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] Census Address List Improvement Act, Pub. L. 103-430 (Oct. 31, 
1994). 

[2] GAO, 2010 Census: Census Bureau Has Improved the Local Update of 
Census Addresses Program, but Challenges Remain, GAO-07-736 
(Washington, D.C.: June 14, 2007). 

[3] Sixty-two localities were eligible to participate in the LUCA Dress 
Rehearsal. The Bureau identified 44 state, county, and municipal 
governments that had signed up to participate, had been shipped at 
least some of the material needed to perform their reviews, and had not 
subsequently formally indicated to the Bureau that they had decided to 
drop out of the review process. As part of our Web-based survey, 
questionnaires were sent to 42 local governments and completed by 31 
such governments, for a response rate of 74 percent. Of the 18 
localities that were eligible to participate in the LUCA Dress 
Rehearsal but did not take part in the program, we also conducted 7 
structured interviews (in person and by telephone). 

[4] The 2000 LUCA program had two separate components: the 1998 city- 
style address operation and the 1999 non-city-style address operation. 

[5] 13 U.S.C. §9(a). 

[6] For the 2000 Census, of the 39,051 eligible entities--such as 
cities and counties--for LUCA participation, 20,718 chose not to 
participate; 5,525 entities signed participation agreements; 2,877 
entities returned materials but recorded no updates or action; and 
9,931 entities submitted at least one address action or challenged at 
least one block. 

[7] Bureau headquarters and the Charlotte regional office provided us 
with internal timelines for the 2010 LUCA Program and the LUCA Dress 
Rehearsal operations held in parts of California and North Carolina 
from June through October 2006. Additionally, we obtained a public 
version of the Bureau's timelines for both the LUCA Dress Rehearsal and 
the 2010 LUCA Program from its Web site, 
http://www.census.gov/geo/www/luca2010/luca.html. 

[8] The Bureau's address list is known as the Master Address File 
(MAF); its associated geographic information system is called the 
Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) 
database. TIGER is a registered trademark of the U.S. Census Bureau. 

[9] The Bureau conducts the BAS annually to collect information about 
selected defined geographic areas. The BAS is used to update 
information about the legal boundaries and names of all governmental 
units in the United States.

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