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Testimony: 

Before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, 
U.S. Senate: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

For Release on Delivery Expected at 3:15 p.m. EDT: 

Tuesday, April 15, 2008: 

2010 Census: 

Census at Critical Juncture for Implementing Risk Reduction Strategies: 

Statement of Mathew Scirč: 

Director, Strategic Issues: 

David A. Powner: 

Director, Information Technology Management Issues: 

GAO-08-685T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-08-685T, a testimony for the Committee on Homeland 
Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

In 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) estimated the 2010 Census 
would cost $11.5 billion, including $3 billion on automation and 
technology. At a March hearing, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) 
stated that the Field Data Collection Automation (FDCA) program was 
likely to incur significant cost overruns and announced a redesign 
effort. At that time, GAO designated the 2010 Decennial Census as high 
risk, citing long-standing concerns in managing information technology 
(IT) investments and uncertain costs and operations. This testimony is 
based on past work and work nearing completion, including GAO’s 
observation of the address canvassing dress rehearsal. For IT 
acquisitions, GAO analyzed system documentation, including 
deliverables, cost estimates, other acquisitions-related documents, and 
interviewed Bureau officials and contractors. This testimony describes 
the implications of redesign for (1) dress rehearsal and decennial 
operations, (2) IT acquisitions management, and (3) Decennial Census 
costs. 

What GAO Found: 

The Decennial Census is at a critical stage in the 2008 Dress 
Rehearsal, in which the Bureau has its last opportunity to test its 
plans for 2010 under census-like conditions. On April 3, 2008, Commerce 
announced significant changes to the FDCA program. It also announced 
that it expected the cost of the decennial to be up to $3 billion 
greater than previously estimated. The redesign will have fundamental 
impacts on the dress rehearsal as well as 2010 Census operations. 
Changes this late in the decade introduce additional risks, making more 
important the steps the Bureau can take to manage those risks. The 
content and timing of dress rehearsal operations must be altered to 
accommodate the Bureau’s design. For example, Commerce has selected an 
option that calls for the Bureau to drop the use of handheld computers 
(HHCs) during the nonresponse follow-up operation, and the Bureau may 
now be unable to fully rehearse a paper-based operation. Additionally, 
reverting to a paper-based nonresponse follow-up operation presents the 
Bureau with a wide range of additional challenges, such as arranging 
for the printing of enumerator forms and testing the systems that will 
read the data from these forms once completed by enumerators. 

Given the redesign effort, implementing GAO’s recommendations 
associated with managing the IT acquisitions is as critical as ever. 
Specifically, the Bureau needs to strengthen its acquisition management 
capabilities, including finalizing FDCA requirements. Further, it also 
needs to strengthen its risk management activities, including 
developing risk mitigation plans for significant risks and improving 
its executive-level governance of these acquisitions. The Bureau also 
needs to plan and conduct key tests, including end-to-end testing, to 
help ensure that decennial systems perform as expected. 

According to the Bureau, the redesign and related revision of the FDCA 
program is expected to result in significant increases to the life 
cycle cost estimate for the 2010 Census. Even without considering the 
recent expected cost increases announced by the Bureau to accompany the 
redesign of the FDCA program, the Bureau’s cost projections for the 
2010 Census revealed an escalating trend from previous censuses. 
Previously, GAO recommended that the Bureau develop an integrated and 
comprehensive plan to manage operations. Specifically, to understand 
and manage the assumptions that drive the cost of the decennial census, 
GAO recommended, among other actions, that the Bureau annually update 
the cost of the 2010 Census and conduct sensitivity analysis on the 
$11.5 billion estimate. However, while the Bureau understands the 
utility of sensitivity analysis, it has not conducted such an analysis. 

What GAO Recommends: 

In its reports, GAO has recommended that the Bureau improve acquisition 
management capabilities, operational planning, cost estimation, and 
performance measurement. The Bureau agreed with most of these 
recommendations, but has not fully implemented them. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-685T]. For more 
information, contact Mathew Scirč at (202) 512-6806 or sciremj@gao.gov 
or David A. Powner at (202) 512-9286 or pownerd@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: 

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in today's hearing. As you 
know, the last time we appeared before you we designated the 2010 
Decennial Census as a high-risk area, citing a number of long-standing 
and emerging challenges facing the census.[Footnote 1] These include 
weaknesses in managing information technology (IT), operational 
planning, and cost estimating, as well as uncertainty over dress 
rehearsal plans and the ultimate cost of the census. 

For 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) planned to make greater use 
of technology. Among other things, the Bureau planned to automate some 
of its field data collection activities as a way to reduce costs and 
improve data quality and operational efficiency. In fact, census 
workers used new technology, handheld computers (HHCs), during last 
spring's dress rehearsal operation. The Field Data Collection 
Automation (FDCA) program is a key IT acquisition that includes 
systems, equipment, and infrastructure for field staff to use in 
collecting census data for the 2010 Census. Last year, the Bureau had 
estimated this and other IT acquisitions would account for about $3 
billion of the then-estimated $11.5 billion total cost of the census. 
Under the FDCA program the Bureau planned to use HHCs during operations 
such as address canvassing, nonresponse follow-up, and census coverage 
measurement. Last year, during address canvassing dress rehearsal field 
activities in California and North Carolina, both we and Bureau 
officials observed a number of performance problems with the HHCs (such 
as slow and inconsistent data transmissions). 

At a March 2008 hearing before this committee, the Department of 
Commerce (Commerce) and the Bureau stated that the FDCA program was 
likely to incur significant cost overruns and said that a redesigning 
effort to get the Decennial Census back on track was under way. The 
Secretary of Commerce outlined several alternatives for redesigning 
this central technology investment, including possibly dropping the 
HHCs from the nonresponse follow-up operation. On April 3, 2008, the 
Secretary chose to do just that. Additionally, he decided that the 
Bureau would reduce deployment of field technology infrastructure by 
the contractor, and have the contractor provide HHCs for address 
canvassing and develop the information system for controlling field 
operations. 

As requested, our testimony today will call upon our past work, 
including our observation of the use of HHCs in the address canvassing 
dress rehearsal, as well as an update of the status of the Bureau's 
redesign efforts, to provide a description of the redesign for (1) 
dress rehearsal and Decennial Census operations, (2) IT acquisitions 
management, and (3) Decennial Census costs. We discussed these issues 
last week before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and 
the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives, 
House of Representatives.[Footnote 2] That testimony and our remarks 
today are based primarily on reports that we issued from 2002 through 
December 2007 on the planning and development of the 2010 Census, as 
well as the results of work nearing completion. We visited census test 
sites in Queens, New York; several counties in rural south-central 
Georgia; Austin, Texas; and the Cheyenne Indian Reservation in South 
Dakota. During these visits we observed tests of the address canvassing 
operation, and we observed tests of the nonresponse follow-up 
operation. In May and June 2007, we observed address canvassing at the 
2008 Dress Rehearsal in sites located in North Carolina and California. 
For IT acquisitions we analyzed system documentation, including project 
plans, deliverables, cost estimates, earned value management data, 
other acquisition-related documents, and we interviewed Bureau 
officials and contractors. 

This work was conducted in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and 
perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide 
a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit 
objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable 
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

Results in Brief: 

The redesign of the Decennial Census carries with it significant 
implications for its key operations--address canvassing and nonresponse 
follow-up. Among these are the need for putting in place a paper-based 
nonresponse follow-up operation, devising approaches to manage work 
load from late mail returns, and ensuring that the automation for 
address canvassing works. This is not an exhaustive list of the 
numerous challenges the Bureau faces going forward. While these 
challenges are significant, it must be stressed that the Bureau could 
have faced overwhelming challenges had it chosen not to redesign the 
Decennial Census. 

Given the redesign effort, implementing our recommendations associated 
with managing the IT acquisitions is as critical as ever. Specifically, 
the Bureau needs to strengthen its acquisition management capabilities, 
including finalizing FDCA requirements. The Bureau also needs to 
strengthen its risk management activities, including developing risk 
mitigation plans for significant risks and improving its executive- 
level governance of these acquisitions. The Bureau also needs to plan 
and conduct key tests, including end-to-end testing to help ensure that 
decennial systems perform as expected. 

According to the Bureau, this redesign and subsequent revision of the 
FDCA program is expected to result in significant increases to the life 
cycle cost estimate for the 2010 Census. On April 3, 2008, the 
Secretary testified that the Decennial Census could cost up to $3 
billion more than the existing $11.5 billion total life cycle cost 
estimate. Even without considering the recent expected cost increases 
announced by the Bureau that will accompany the streamlining of the 
FDCA program, the Bureau's cost projections for the 2010 Census 
revealed an escalating trend compared to those from previous censuses. 
In constant 2010 dollars, the estimated $11.8 billion cost of the 2010 
Census, before the FDCA program redesign, represented a more than 
tenfold increase over the $1 billion spent on the 1970 Census. To 
manage the 2010 Census and contain costs, we previously recommended 
that the Bureau develop a comprehensive, integrated project plan for 
the 2010 Census that should include itemized estimated costs of each 
component, including a sensitivity analysis and an explanation of 
significant changes in the assumptions on which these costs were 
based.[Footnote 3] In response, the Bureau provided us with the 2010 
Census Operations and Systems Plan dated August 2007. This plan 
represented an important step forward at the time. It included inputs 
and outputs and described linkages among operations and systems. 
However, it did not include sensitivity analysis, risk mitigation 
plans, a detailed 2010 Census timeline, or itemized estimated costs of 
each component. With the redesign, this plan will need to be updated. 

Redesign Implications for Decennial Census Operations: 

The Decennial Census is at a critical stage in the 2008 Dress 
Rehearsal, in which the Bureau has its last opportunity to test its 
plans for 2010 under census-like conditions. The dress rehearsal 
features a mock Census Day, now set for May 1, 2008. Last year at this 
time, the Bureau carried out a major dress rehearsal operation--address 
canvassing--in which the Bureau updated address lists and collected 
global positioning coordinates for mapspots. The largest field 
operation of the dress rehearsal was to have begun this month. In this 
operation (nonresponse follow-up), field staff were to conduct face-to- 
face interviews with households that did not mail back their 
questionnaires. 

Prior to the redesigning effort, the Bureau had already changed its 
plans for the dress rehearsal, in part, to focus greater attention on 
the testing of technology. In a November 20, 2007, decision memo, the 
Bureau announced that it would delay Census Day for the dress rehearsal 
by 1 month, to May 1, 2008. The Bureau also listed a number of 
operations it no longer planned to rehearse, including group quarters 
enumeration and census coverage measurement. Also in February 2008, the 
Bureau announced that it would remove from the scope of the FDCA 
program contract the development of all systems and software associated 
with the census coverage measurement operation. 

The redesign approach selected by the Secretary will require that the 
Bureau quickly develop and test a paper-based nonresponse follow-up 
operation. Any paper-based option has its own set of unique issues, 
such as setting up operations to support paper field data collection 
centers and seeking printing solutions for enumerator forms. Among 
other issues, decisions on a printing solution will need to be made 
soon. Although the Bureau has carried out paper-based operations 
before, in some cases they now involve new procedures and system 
interfaces that as a result of their exclusion from the dress 
rehearsal, will not be tested under census-like conditions. For 
nonresponse follow-up in 2010 the Bureau will be using newly developed 
systems for integrating responses and controlling workload. For 
example, the Bureau will need to rely on a newly developed system 
called the Decennial Response Integration System to help identify 
households that have not returned census forms and for collecting the 
results of enumerators conducting nonresponse follow-up person 
interviews. Dropping the use of the HHCs for nonresponse follow-up and 
reverting to paper for that operation this late in the decade also 
precludes nonresponse follow-up from being fully tested in the dress 
rehearsal. Under the delayed dress rehearsal this operation was to 
begin next month, soon after households in dress rehearsal locations 
were to return their census forms. A paper operation requires different 
training, maps, and other material to be prepared prior to the 
operation. The Bureau has announced no specific plans for conducting 
field testing of certain key operations, such as nonresponse follow-up. 
Without sufficient testing, operational problems can go undiscovered 
and the opportunity to improve operations will be lost. 

The redesign's move from the use of HHCs to a paper-based nonresponse 
follow-up operation may limit the Bureau's ability to reduce follow-up 
with persons who are late in returning their census questionnaires. One 
of the primary advantages the Bureau cited for using HHCs was the 
ability, as late mail returns came in, to remove those addresses from 
enumerators' assignments--preventing enumerators from doing unnecessary 
work. According to the Bureau, in 2000 enumerators visited over 4 
million households that had returned their census form late. In 2004, 
the Bureau tested the capability of an earlier prototype of the HHC to 
adjust workloads by identifying late mail returns. We reported in 
2007[Footnote 4] that based on these tests it appears that if the 
Bureau had possessed this capability during the 2000 Census, it could 
have eliminated the need to visit nearly 773,000 late-responding 
households and saved an estimated $22 million (based on our estimate 
that a 1 percentage point increase in workload could add at least $34 
million in direct salary, benefits, and travel costs to the price tag 
of nonresponse follow-up[Footnote 5]). The Director of the Census 
Bureau stated that he believes that the Bureau can still partially 
adjust enumerator workload to recognize late mail returns without the 
use of HHCs. To achieve this objective, the Bureau will need to specify 
the process it will use and conduct appropriate tests. 

The redesign will also affect the 2010 Census address canvassing 
operation. The Secretary's decision to use the HHCs for the 2010 
address canvassing operation means that certain performance issues with 
the handheld technology must be addressed promptly. Field staff 
experienced difficulties using the technology during the address 
canvassing dress rehearsal. For example, workers reported problems with 
HHCs when working in large assignment areas during address canvassing. 
The devices could not accommodate more than 720 addresses--3 percent of 
dress rehearsal assignment areas were larger than that. The amount of 
data transmitted and used slowed down the HHCs significantly. 
Identification of these problems caused the contractor to create a task 
team to examine the issues, and the team recommended improving the end- 
to-end performance of the mobile solution by controlling the size of 
assignment area data delivered to the HHC both for address canvassing 
and nonresponse follow-up operations. One specific recommendation was 
limiting the size of assignment areas to 200 total addresses. However, 
the redesign effort took another approach deciding not to use HHCs in 
certain large assignment areas. It is not yet clear how this workaround 
will be carried out. Furthermore, the Bureau will need to define 
specific and measurable performance requirements for the HHCs as we 
recommended in January 2005.[Footnote 6] 

Another operational issue is the ability of the contractor to accept 
changes to its address files after it completes address canvassing 
updates. This could preclude the Bureau from conducting "restart/redo" 
operations for an area where the address file is discovered to be 
incorrect. This function is critical in developing an accurate and 
complete address list. Without the ability to update the mailing list 
for "restart/redo" operations, the Bureau would consider not mailing 
census questionnaires to addresses in that area and instead deliver 
census forms by hand. This has the potential to significantly increase 
costs. 

Redesign Implications for IT Acquisitions: 

The Bureau still needs to agree upon and finalize requirements for the 
FDCA program. In March 2006, we reported that the FDCA project office 
had not implemented the full set of acquisition management capabilities 
(such as project and acquisition planning and requirements development 
and management) that were needed to effectively manage the 
program[Footnote 7]. For example, although the project office had 
developed baseline functional requirements for the acquisition, the 
Bureau had not yet validated and approved them. Subsequently, in 
October 2007, we reported that changes to requirements had been a 
contributing factor to both cost increases and schedule delays 
experienced by the FDCA program[Footnote 8]. In June 2007, an 
assessment by an independent contractor of the FDCA program reported on 
requirements management problems--much like those we reported in March 
2006. Similar to our recommendation, the independent assessors 
recommended that the Bureau immediately stabilize requirements by 
defining and refining them. The Bureau has recently made efforts to 
further define requirements for the FDCA program, and it has estimated 
that the revised requirements will result in significant cost 
increases. On January 16, 2008, the Bureau provided the FDCA contractor 
with a list of over 400 requirements for the FDCA program to reconcile. 
Although some of these new requirements will be dropped based on the 
Secretary's recent decision, many will still need to be addressed to 
ensure that FDCA will perform as needed. 

Commerce and Bureau officials need to address critical weaknesses in 
risk management practices. In October 2007, we reported that the FDCA 
project had weaknesses in identifying risks, establishing adequate 
mitigation plans, and reporting risk status to executive-level 
officials.[Footnote 9] For example, the FDCA project team had not 
developed mitigation plans that were timely or complete nor did it 
provide regular briefings on risks to senior executives. The FDCA 
project team's failure to report a project's risks to executive-level 
officials reduces the visibility of risks to executives who should be 
playing a role in mitigating them. 

As of October 2007, in response to the cost and schedule changes, the 
Bureau decided to delay certain system functionality for FDCA. As a 
result, the operational testing that was to occur during the dress 
rehearsal period around May 1, 2008, would not include tests of the 
full complement of Decennial Census systems and their functionality. 
Operational testing helps verify that systems function as intended in 
an operational environment. In late 2007, according to Bureau 
officials, testing plans for IT systems were to be finalized in 
February 2008. Therefore, we recommended that the Bureau plan and 
conduct critical testing, including end-to-end testing of the Decennial 
Census systems.[Footnote 10] As of March 2008, the Bureau still had not 
developed these test plans. In the recent program redesign, the Bureau 
included conducting end-to-end testing. The inability to perform 
comprehensive operational testing of all interrelated systems increases 
the risk that further cost overruns will occur, that decennial systems 
will experience performance shortfalls, or both. 

Given the redesigning effort, implementing our recommendations 
associated with managing the IT acquisitions is as critical as ever. 
Specifically, the Bureau needs to strengthen its acquisition management 
capabilities, including finalizing FDCA requirements. Further, it also 
needs to strengthen its risk management activities, including 
developing adequate risk mitigation plans for significant risks and 
improving its executive-level governance of these acquisitions. The 
Bureau also needs to plan and conduct key tests, including end-to-end 
testing, to help ensure that decennial systems perform as expected. 

Redesign Implications for Decennial Census Life Cycle Costs: 

Even without considering the recent expected cost increases announced 
by the Bureau to accommodate the redesign of the FDCA program, the 
Bureau's cost projections for the 2010 Census revealed an escalating 
trend from the 1970 Census. As shown in figure 1, the estimated $11.8 
billion cost (expressed in constant 2010 dollars) of the 2010 Census, 
before the FDCA program redesign, represented a more than tenfold 
increase over the $1 billion spent on the 1970 Census. The 1970 Census 
was the first Census to rely on mailing census forms to households and 
asking for a mail return--a major part of the data collection. Although 
some of the cost increase could be expected because the number of 
housing units--and hence the Bureau's workload--has gotten larger, the 
cost growth has far exceeded the increase in the number of housing 
units. The Bureau estimated that the number of housing units for the 
2010 Census would increase by almost 14 percent over Census 2000 
levels. 

Figure 1: Decennial Census Costs from 1970 through 2010 (Projected) in 
Constant 2010 Dollars: 

This figure is a vertical bar graph showing decennial census costs from 
1970 through 2010 (projected) in constant 2010 dollars. The X axis is 
census year, and the Y axis is cost in billions of dollars. 

Census year: 1970; 
Cost in billions of dollars: 1.0. 

Census year: 1980; 
Cost in billions of dollars: 2.6. 

Census year: 1990; 
Cost in billions of dollars: 4.1. 

Census year: 2000; 
Cost in billions of dollars: 8.2. 

Census year: 2010 (projected); 
Cost in billions of dollars: 11.8. 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Census Bureau figures. 

[End of figure] 

As figure 2 shows, before the FDCA program redesign, the Bureau 
estimated that the average cost per housing unit for the 2010 Census 
was expected to increase by approximately 26 percent over 2000 levels, 
from $69.79 per housing unit to $88.19 per housing unit in constant 
2010 dollars. When the projected cost increase that accompanies the 
FDCA program redesign is considered, the average cost per housing unit 
will increase by an even greater percentage. 

Figure 2: Decennial Census Average Cost per Housing Unit from 1970 
through 2010 (Projected) in Constant 2010 Dollars: 

This figure is a vertical bar graph showing decennial census average 
cost per housing unit from 1970 through 2010 (projected) in constant 
2010 dollars. The X axis is census year, and the Y axis is cost in 
billions of dollars. 

Census year: 1970; 
Cost in billions of dollars: 14.39. 

Census year: 1980; 
Cost in billions of dollars: 29.05. 

Census year: 1990; 
Cost in billions of dollars: 39.61. 

Census year: 2000; 
Cost in billions of dollars: 69.79. 

Census year: 2010 (projected); 
Cost in billions of dollars: 88.19. 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Census Bureau figures. 

[End of figure] 

Given the projected increase in spending, it will be imperative that 
the Bureau effectively manage the 2010 Census, as the risk exists that 
the actual, final cost of the census could be considerably higher than 
anticipated. Indeed, this was the case for the 2000 Census, when the 
Bureau's initial cost projections proved to be too low because of such 
factors as unforeseen operational problems and changes to the 
fundamental design. The Bureau estimated that the 2000 Census would 
cost around $5 billion. However, the final price tag for the 2000 
Census was more than $6.5 billion, a 30 percent increase in cost. Large 
federal deficits and other fiscal challenges underscore the importance 
of managing the cost of the census, while promoting an accurate, timely 
census. 

We have repeatedly reported that the Bureau would be challenged to 
control the cost of the 2010 Census. In January 2004, we reported that 
under the Bureau's approach for reengineering the 2010 Census, the 
Bureau might find it difficult to reduce operational risk because 
reengineering introduces new risks.[Footnote 11] To manage the 2010 
Census and contain costs, we recommended that the Bureau develop a 
comprehensive, integrated project plan for the 2010 Census that should 
include the itemized estimated costs of each component, including a 
sensitivity analysis and an explanation of significant changes in the 
assumptions on which these costs were based. In response, the Bureau 
provided us with the 2010 Census Operations and Systems Plan, dated 
August 2007. This plan represented an important step forward at the 
time. It included inputs and outputs and described linkages among 
operations and systems. However, it did not yet include sensitivity 
analysis, risk mitigation plans, a detailed 2010 Census timeline, or 
itemized estimated costs of each component. Going forward, it will be 
important for the Bureau to update its operations plan. 

The assumptions in the fiscal year 2009 President's Budget life cycle 
cost estimate of $11.5 billion may not have included recent 
productivity data from last year's address canvassing dress rehearsal. 
According to the Bureau, initially, the cost model assumed productivity 
for address canvassing to be 25.6 addresses per hour for urban/suburban 
areas. However, results from the address canvassing dress rehearsal 
showed productivity of 13.4 addresses per hour for urban/suburban 
areas. While the life cycle cost estimate increased slightly to $11.5 
billion in the fiscal year 2009 President's Budget, these increases 
were attributed to other factors and not to lower-than-expected 
canvassing productivity. Best practices call for cost model assumptions 
to be updated as new information becomes available. We previously 
reported that the life cycle cost estimate has not been updated to 
reflect changes in assumptions. In July 2006, we testified that the 
estimate had not been updated to reflect the results of testing 
conducted in 2004.[Footnote 12] As the Bureau updates its estimate of 
the life cycle cost annually and as part of the redesigning effort, it 
will be important that it reflect changing assumptions for productivity 
and hours worked. 

Concluding Observations: 

Given its size and complexity, carrying out the Decennial Census 
presents significant challenges under any circumstances. Late changes 
in census plans and operations, long-standing weaknesses in IT 
acquisition and contract management, limited capacity for undertaking 
these critical management functions, scaling back of dress rehearsal 
activities, and uncertainty as to the ultimate cost of the 2010 Census 
puts the success of this effort in jeopardy. Managing these risks is 
critical to the timely completion of a reliable and cost-effective 
census. Implementing our recommendations would help the Bureau 
effectively manage the myriad of interrelated operations needed to 
ensure an accurate and complete count in 2010 (Bureau officials have 
agreed with many of our recommendations, but have not fully implemented 
them). 

The dress rehearsal represents a critical stage in preparing for the 
2010 Census. This is the time when the Congress and others should have 
the information they need to know how well the design for 2010 is 
likely to work, what risks remain, and how those risks will be 
mitigated. We have highlighted some of the risks today. Going forward, 
it will be important for the Bureau to specify how it will ensure that 
planned dress rehearsal operations will be successfully carried out, 
and how it will provide assurance that the largest operation-- 
nonresponse follow-up--will be tested in the absence of a full dress 
rehearsal. Likewise, the Bureau will need to establish plans for 
working around limitations in the technology to be used in address 
canvassing operations. It is critical that the Bureau ensure that the 
technology for conducting address canvassing is a success. 

The Bureau should implement prior recommendations in moving forward. 
Contractor-developed IT systems and deliverables need to be closely 
monitored to ensure that contractors are performing within budget. As 
we have stressed throughout this testimony and in our prior 
recommendations, the Bureau needs to practice aggressive project 
management and governance over both the IT and non-IT components. 
Further, it is essential that the Bureau implement our recommendations 
related to information technology. The Bureau must solidify the FDCA 
program requirements, strengthen risk management activities, and plan 
and conduct critical testing of the Decennial Census systems. 

Mr. Chairman, Census Day is less than 2 years away and address 
canvassing is 1 year away. The challenges we highlighted today call for 
effective risk mitigation by the U.S. Census Bureau, and careful 
monitoring and oversight by the Department of Commerce, the Office of 
Management and Budget, the Congress, GAO, and other key stakeholders. 
As in the past, we look forward to supporting the committee's oversight 
efforts to promote an accurate and cost-effective census. 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes our statement. We would be glad to answer 
any questions you and the committee members may have. 

Contacts and Acknowledgments: 

If you have any questions on matters discussed in this testimony, 
please contact Mathew Scirč at (202) 512-6806 or sciremj@gao.gov or 
David A. Powner at (202) 512-9286 or pownerd@gao.gov. Contact points 
for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be 
found on the last page of this testimony. Other key contributors to 
this testimony include Signora May, Assistant Director; Mathew Bader; 
Thomas Beall; Jeffrey DeMarco; Elizabeth Hosler; Richard Hung; Anne 
Inserra; Andrea Levine; Lisa Pearson; Sonya Phillips; Cynthia Scott; 
Niti Tandon; Jonathan Ticehurst; Timothy Wexler; and Katherine Wulff. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] GAO, Information Technology: Significant Problems of Critical 
Automation Program Contribute to Risks Facing 2010 Census, GAO-08-550T 
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 5, 2008). 

[2] GAO, 2010 Census: Census at Critical Juncture for Implementing Risk 
Reduction Strategies. GAO-08-659T (Washington, D.C.: April 9, 2008). 

[3] GAO, 2010 Census: Redesigned Approach Holds Promise, but Census 
Bureau Needs to Annually Develop and Provide a Comprehensive Project 
Plan to Monitor Costs, GAO-06-1009T (Washington, D.C.: July 27, 2006). 

[4] GAO, 2010 Census: Design Shows Progress, but Managing Technology 
Acquisitions, Temporary Field Staff, and Gulf Region Enumeration 
Require Attention. GAO-07-779T (Washington, D.C.: April 24, 2007). 

[5] GAO, 2000 Census: Contingency Planning Needed to Address Risk That 
Pose a Threat to a Successful Census, GAO/GGD-00-6 (Washington, D.C.: 
Dec. 14, 1999). 

[6] GAO, 2010 Census: Basic Design Has Potential, but Remaining 
Challenges Need Prompt Resolution, GAO-05-9 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 12, 
2005). 

[7] GAO, Census Bureau: Important Activities for Improving Management 
of Key 2010 Decennial Acquisitions Remain to be Done, GAO-06-444T 
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 1, 2006). 

[8] GAO, Information Technology: Census Bureau Needs to Improve Its 
Risk Management of Decennial Systems, GAO-08-79 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 
5, 2007). 

[9] GAO-08-79 

[10] GAO-08-79 

[11] GAO, 2010 Census: Cost and Design Issues Need to Be Addressed 
Soon, GAO-04-37 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 15, 2004). 

[12] GAO, 2010 Census: Redesigned Approach Holds Promise, but Census 
Bureau Needs to Annually Develop and Provide a Comprehensive Project 
Plan to Monitor Costs, GAO-06-1009T (Washington, D.C.: July 27, 2006).

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