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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:
Thursday, March 25, 2010: 

2010 Census: 

Data Collection Is Under Way, but Reliability of Key Information 
Technology Systems Remains a Risk: 

Statement of Robert Goldenkoff, Director: 
Strategic Issues: 

GAO-10-567T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-10-567T, 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: 

In March 2008, GAO designated the 2010 Census a high-risk area in part 
because of information technology (IT) shortcomings and uncertainty 
over the ultimate cost of the census, now estimated at around $15 
billion. The U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) has since made improvements 
to various IT systems and taken other steps to mitigate the risks to a 
successful census. However, last year, GAO noted that a number of 
challenges and uncertainties remained, and much work remained to be 
completed under very tight time frames. 

As requested, this testimony provides an update on the Bureauís 
readiness for an effective headcount, covering (1) the reliability of 
key IT systems; (2) a broad range of activities critical to an 
effective headcount, some of which were problematic in either earlier 
2010 operations or in the 2000 Census, and (3) the quality of the 
Bureauís cost estimates. The testimony is based on previously issued 
and ongoing GAO work. 

What GAO Found: 

Overall, the Bureauís readiness for a successful headcount is mixed. 
On the one hand, performance problems continue to plague a work flow 
management system essential for the Bureauís field operations and a 
payroll processing system that will be used to pay more than 1 million 
temporary workers. Both systems have not yet demonstrated the ability 
to function reliably under full operational loads, and the limited 
amount of time that remains to address their shortcomings creates a 
substantial challenge for the Bureau. Aside from the mail response, 
which is outside of the Bureauís direct control, the difficulties 
facing these two automated systems represent the most significant 
risk, jeopardizing the cost and quality of the enumeration. 

On the other hand, the rollout of other key enumeration activities is 
generally on track, and the Bureau has taken action to address some 
previously identified problems. For example, the Bureau has taken 
steps to reduce the number of temporary workers with unreadable 
fingerprint cards, a problem that affected an earlier field operation. 
Among other actions, the Bureau plans to digitally capture a third and 
fourth set of fingerprints if the first two sets cannot be read for 
background security checks. The Bureauís 2010 Census communications 
campaign is also more robust than the one used in the 2000 Census. Key 
differences from the 2000 campaign include increased partnership 
staffing, expanded outreach to partner organizations, targeted paid 
advertising based on market and attitudinal research, and a 
contingency fund to address unexpected events. To increase 
participation rates, the Bureau plans to mail a second, replacement 
questionnaire to census tracts that had low or moderate response rates 
in the 2000 Census. To help ensure that hard-to-count populations are 
enumerated, the Bureau plans to employ several initiatives. For 
example, Service Based Enumeration is designed to count people who 
lack permanent shelter at soup kitchens, mobile food vans, and other 
locations where they receive services. The Be Counted program is 
designed to reach those who may not have received a census 
questionnaire. To help ensure a complete count of areas along the Gulf 
Coast, the Bureau is hand delivering an estimated 1.2 million census 
forms in areas that were devastated by hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and 
Ike. 

In addition, the Bureau revised its cost estimate from $2.7 billion to 
$2.3 billion for nonresponse follow-up, the largest and most costly 
field operation where census workers follow up in person with 
nonresponding households. However, the Bureauís analyses of cost are 
not complete. According to the Bureau, it continues to reexamine the 
cost of two other operations related to nonresponse follow-up. 

Moving forward, it will be important for the Bureau to quickly 
identify the problems affecting key IT systems and test solutions. 
Further, given the complexity of the census and the likelihood that 
other glitches might arise, it will be important for the Bureau to 
stay on schedule, monitor operations, and have plans and personnel in 
place to quickly address operational issues. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO is not making new recommendations in this testimony, but past 
reports recommended that the Bureau strengthen its testing of key IT 
systems and better document and update its cost estimates. The Bureau 
generally agreed with these recommendations and is in varying stages 
of implementing them. 

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-567T] or key 
components. For more information, contact Robert Goldenkoff at (202) 
512-2757 or goldenkoffr@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss the U.S. Census Bureau's 
(Bureau) readiness for the 2010 Census. With Census Day, April 1, fast 
approaching, the nation has entered one of the most crucial time 
periods in the decade-long census life-cycle. In mid-March, the Bureau 
delivered questionnaires to around 120 million households, and in the 
coming weeks, the Bureau will launch additional operations aimed at 
counting people in migrant worker housing, boats, tent cities, 
homeless shelters, nursing homes, dormitories, prisons, and other 
diverse dwellings, as well as millions of households that fail to mail 
back their census questionnaires, all in an effort to ensure a 
complete and accurate enumeration. In short, the success of these 
operations will have a major impact on the ultimate cost and accuracy 
of the census. 

The task confronting the Bureau is enormous. Few peacetime endeavors, 
if any, can match the 2010 Census in terms of size, scope, complexity, 
and immutable deadlines. Indeed, to secure a successful headcount, the 
Bureau needs to align thousands of activities, process millions of 
forms, hire around 1 million temporary employees, and partner with 
thousands of public and private sector entities across the country. 
The Bureau needs to do all this and more, do it right, and do it under 
an extremely tight schedule. 

At the same time, the unprecedented commitment of resources and total 
cost of the census--now estimated at around $14.7 billion--underscores 
the importance of identifying lessons learned from the 2010 headcount 
in order to reexamine the nation's approach to the 2020 Census and 
future population tallies. 

As you know, in March 2008, we designated the 2010 Census a high-risk 
area because of cost overruns and weaknesses in the Bureau's 
information technology (IT) acquisition and contract management 
function.[Footnote 1] In the months that followed, the Bureau made 
commendable progress in reducing the risks to a successful census. 
Nevertheless, this past February, we testified that overall the 
Bureau's readiness for a successful headcount is mixed. On the one 
hand, key IT systems--most notably an automated system used to manage 
field data collection known as the Paper-Based Operations Control 
System (PBOCS) and a personnel and payroll processing system called 
the Decennial Applicant Personnel and Payroll System (DAPPS)--were 
experiencing significant performance issues.[Footnote 2] On the other 
hand, the rollout of other key enumeration activities is generally on 
track, and the Bureau has taken action to address some previously 
identified problems. 

As requested, my remarks today will focus on the Bureau's preparedness 
for the 2010 Census and the challenges and opportunities that lie 
ahead. In particular, I will provide an update on the progress the 
Bureau is making in addressing issues that prompted us to designate 
the 2010 Census a high-risk area, including (1) the reliability of key 
IT systems; (2) a broad range of activities critical to an effective 
headcount, some of which were problematic in either earlier 2010 
operations or in the 2000 Census; and (3) the quality of the Bureau's 
cost estimates. The broad range of activities I will discuss today 
include procedures for fingerprinting temporary employees; the rollout 
of key marketing efforts aimed at improving the participation of hard- 
to-count populations and how American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 
2009 (Recovery Act)[Footnote 3] funds are being used as part of that 
effort; the Bureau's plans for mailing a second, follow-up 
questionnaire and the removal of late mail returns; and the Bureau's 
plans to enumerate people who are vulnerable to being missed by the 
census, including the homeless and those displaced by recent economic 
conditions and the hurricanes that slammed the Gulf Coast. 

My testimony today is based on our ongoing and completed reviews of 
key census-taking operations.[Footnote 4] In our review, we analyzed 
key documents, including plans, procedures, and guidance for the 
selected activities, and interviewed cognizant Bureau officials at 
headquarters and local census offices. In addition, we made on-site 
observations of certain census promotional events in Boston, 
Washington D.C., and Atlanta, and observed the Bureau's efforts to 
hand deliver census questionnaires to those in hurricane-affected 
areas along the Gulf Coast. 

On March 18, 2010, we provided the Bureau with a statement of facts 
for our audit work, and on March 22, 2010, the Bureau provided written 
comments. The Bureau made some suggestions where additional context or 
clarification was needed, and where appropriate, we made those 
changes. We conducted our work in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan 
and perform the audits 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. 

In summary, the Bureau's readiness for conducting the 2010 Census 
remains mixed. Aside from the mail response rate, which in some 
respects is outside of the Bureau's direct control, the most 
significant risk jeopardizing the cost and quality of the enumeration 
lies in the performance problems that continue to plague DAPPS and 
PBOCS. Indeed, neither system has yet demonstrated the ability to 
function reliably under full operational loads, and the limited amount 
of time that remains to improve the reliability of these systems 
creates a substantial challenge for the Bureau. 

In other areas, the Bureau continues to make progress. For example, 
the Bureau has improved its fingerprinting procedures for temporary 
workers, and its plans to enumerate certain hard-to-count populations 
are generally on track and more robust compared to similar efforts 
during the 2000 Census. 

Finally, the Bureau's analyses of cost are not complete. While the 
Bureau has finalized its reexamination of Nonresponse Follow-up (NRFU) 
costs, now estimated at $2.3 billion, it continues to update the costs 
for other NRFU-related operations. 

Now that the enumeration is under way, it is important to keep in mind 
that the size and scope of the tally makes various glitches all but 
inevitable. In light of this difficult operating environment, as the 
Bureau well knows, it will be critical to (1) stay on schedule; (2) 
closely monitor operations with appropriate cost, performance, and 
scheduling metrics; and (3) have appropriate plans and personnel in 
place to quickly address operational issues. 

Importantly, I also want to stress, as we have done in the past, that 
the Bureau cannot conduct a successful enumeration on its own. Indeed, 
the decennial census is a shared national undertaking, and it is now 
up to the general public to fulfill its civic responsibility to mail 
back the census questionnaires in a timely fashion.[Footnote 5] 
According to the Bureau, each percentage point increase in the mail 
response rate saves taxpayers around $85 million and yields more 
accurate data compared to information collected by enumerators from 
nonrespondents. The bottom line, Mr. Chairman, is that a key 
determinant of the success of the 2010 Census is now in the hands of 
the American people. 

Background: 

As you know, Mr. Chairman, the decennial census is a constitutionally 
mandated enterprise critical to our nation. Census data are used to 
apportion congressional seats, redraw congressional districts, and 
help allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid to state 
and local governments each year. 

Although an accurate population count is always a difficult task, the 
2010 Census is a particular challenge because of various societal 
trends, such as concerns over personal privacy, more non-English 
speakers, and more people residing in makeshift and other 
nontraditional living arrangements because of economic dislocation or 
natural disasters. As a result, the Bureau is finding it increasingly 
difficult to locate people and get them to participate in the census. 

In developing the 2010 Census, a long-standing challenge for the 
Bureau has been the reliability of its IT systems. For example, in 
March 2009, we reported that the Bureau needed to develop a master 
list of interfaces between systems, set priorities for the testing of 
interfaces based on criticality, and develop testing plans and 
schedules.[Footnote 6] In the months that followed, while the Bureau 
strengthened its management and oversight of its IT systems, 
additional work was needed under very tight time frames. 

More generally, now that the census has moved to the operational 
phase, it will be important for the Bureau to stay on schedule. The 
enumeration has several absolute deadlines, and an elaborate chain of 
interrelated pre-and post-Census Day activities are predicated upon 
those dates. Specifically, the Department of Commerce--the Bureau's 
parent agency--is legally required to (1) conduct the census on April 
1 of the decennial year, (2) report the state population counts to the 
President for purposes of congressional apportionment by December 31 
of the decennial year, and (3) send population tabulations to the 
states for purposes of redistricting no later than 1 year after the 
April 1 census date. To meet these reporting requirements, census 
activities need to take place at specific times and in the proper 
sequence. A timeline of key census operations is shown in figure 1. 

Figure 1: Time Frames for Key Census Activities: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustrated horizontal bar graph] 

Operation or activity: Local update of census addresses (LUCA): 
Localities assist in updating address lists and maps; 
Timeline: February 2007 through February 2009. 

Operation or activity: Opening of 494 local census offices; 
Timeline: October 2008 through December 2009. 

Operation or activity: Large block canvassing: Field staff validate 
addresses for blocks containing over 1,000 housing units; 
Timeline: January 2009 through June 2009. 

Operation or activity: Address canvassing: Field staff validate 
address lists and maps; 
Timeline: April 2009 through July 2009. 

Operation or activity: Group quarters validation: Field staff validate 
addresses for group housing such as prisons and nursing facilities; 
Timeline: September 2009 through October 2009. 

Operation or activity: Mailout/mailback: Most households are mailed 
census questionnaires; 
Timeline: March 2010 through September 2010. 

Operation or activity: Update/enumerate: Field staff visit housing 
units that do not have house numbers and/or street names; 
Timeline: March 2010 through May 2010. 

Operation or activity: Group quarters enumeration: Field staff visit 
group housing such as prisons and nursing facilities; 
Timeline: March 2010 through May 2010. 

Operation or activity: Nonresponse follow-up: Field staff follow-up in 
person with nonresponding households; 
Timeline: June 2010 through July 2010. 

Operation or activity: Coverage follow-up: Staff follow-up by 
telephone to resolve conflicting information provided on census forms; 
Timeline: April 2010 through August 2010. 

April 1, 2010: Census Day. 

December 31, 2010: Delivery of apportionment counts to the President. 

April 1, 2011: Complete delivery of redistricting data to states. 

Source: GAO summary of U.S. Census Bureau information. 

[End of figure] 

Key IT Systems Continue to Experience Significant Performance Issues: 

Although the Bureau has made progress in testing and deploying IT 
systems for the 2010 Census, significant performance issues need to be 
addressed with both PBOCS, the work flow management system, and DAPPS, 
the automated system the Bureau is using to process applicants and 
handle the payroll of the more than 600,000 temporary employees who 
are to work on the census during peak operations. 

In March 2009, we reported that the Bureau had a number of problems 
related to testing of key IT systems, including weaknesses in test 
plans and schedules, and a lack of executive-level oversight and 
guidance.[Footnote 7] In that report, we recommended that the Bureau 
complete key system testing activities and improve testing oversight 
and guidance. The Bureau agreed with our recommendations. Since that 
time, we have been monitoring and tracking the Bureau's progress and, 
in February 2010, we testified that the while progress had been made 
in respect to system testing, key IT systems were facing critical 
performance issues.[Footnote 8] 

For example, we reported that in December 2009, the Bureau completed 
two iterations of a key performance test, known as the Decennial 
Application Load Test. As part of the test, more than 8,000 field 
staff at about 400 local census offices performed a combination of 
manual and automated tests to assess the performance of key IT 
systems, including DAPPS and the first release of PBOCS. In the first 
test, DAPPS failed and other key systems, including PBOCS, performed 
slowly. In the second iteration, DAPPS completed the test, though 
performance was slow. Bureau officials stated that DAPPS performance 
shortfalls were a result of three major issues, involving system 
hardware, software, and the operating system. They said that they were 
taking several steps to resolve these issues, including upgrading and 
reconfiguring the system, and deploying additional hardware to support 
the system, and planned to complete these efforts by the end of 
February. At the time, officials acknowledged that it was critical 
that DAPPS be fully functional under a heavy load by mid-March, when 
the Bureau would begin hiring a large number of temporary employees 
(about 600,000) for NRFU who will need to be paid using the system. 

The Bureau has since completed many steps to improve DAPPS 
performance, and more are planned. However, as of mid-March, the 
system was still experiencing capacity limitations and slow response. 
These shortcomings were occurring even though approximately 100,000 
temporary employees were currently being paid using the system versus 
the more than 600,000 employees that will need to be paid at the peak 
of field operations. For example, Bureau officials stated that they 
had already instructed DAPPS users to implement several work-arounds 
to improve system performance, such as reducing the number of system-
intensive reports generated during peak hours. As of March 22, Bureau 
officials stated that they had completed additional steps to improve 
DAPPS performance, including upgrading and reconfiguring the system's 
software and installing additional hardware. However, Bureau officials 
also stated that additional testing and system refinements may be 
needed to determine if these upgrades will address the performance 
issues previously described. Bureau officials stated that they may not 
have sufficient time and resources to add additional server capacity 
if these upgrades are not sufficient, so if performance problems 
remain, officials stated that the Bureau will identify additional work-
arounds to reduce the demand on the system, including limiting the 
frequency and times when field office staff can generate certain 
reports and run system-intensive operations. 

Performance issues with PBOCS still need to be addressed as well. 
While the first release of this system was deployed for early census 
field operations in January 2010 and certain components of the second 
release were deployed in February 2010, both releases have known 
defects, such as limited functionality, slow performance, and problems 
generating certain progress and performance reports. For example, 
Bureau officials from a local census office in the Gulf Coast, working 
on hand delivering questionnaires in the hurricane-affected area, 
indicated that PBOCS has been operating very slowly and is 
occasionally unavailable. Although not necessarily indicative of PBOCS 
issues occurring elsewhere in the country, it does highlight some of 
the productivity problems resulting from the shortcomings with PBOCS. 
The bureau has also had to restrict the number of PBOCS users per 
local census office due to capacity limitations. In many cases, 
temporary work-arounds have been communicated to field staff; however, 
these issues must be resolved and retested. Furthermore, the component 
of the second release that will be used to manage NRFU, the largest 
field operation, is still being tested and is not planned for 
deployment until mid-April 2010--about 3 weeks later than planned. 
With the NRFU operation scheduled to begin in early May 2010, this 
leaves little time to address issues identified during testing. 
Lastly, the development and testing of the third release of PBOCS is 
needed before the system is ready for later field operations, such as 
the final check of housing unit status (known as field verification), 
scheduled to begin in August 2010. 

In recognition of the serious implications that a failed PBOCS would 
have for conducting of the 2010 Census, the Bureau has taken 
additional steps to mitigate the outstanding risks. For example, in 
June 2009, the Bureau chartered an independent assessment team, 
chaired by the Bureau's Chief Information Officer, to monitor and 
report on, among other things, the system's development and testing 
progress. Further, the Bureau stated that in January 2010, it also 
established the 2010 Census Application Readiness and Infrastructure 
Stability Group in order to centralize leadership and coordination 
efforts across key systems, including PBOCS. These efforts are 
encouraging. However, the aggressive development and testing schedule 
presents various challenges. For example, two of the three releases of 
PBOCS were not included in the performance test in December because 
development of these releases had not yet been completed. This 
increases the risk that performance issues, such as those described 
above, may reoccur in future releases of the system, and the Bureau's 
ability to resolve and retest these issues before the system is needed 
for key field operations will be limited. 

In addition to DAPPS and PBOCS, the Bureau will rely on six other key 
automated systems to conduct the census. Progress has been made with 
respect to system testing. However, much system testing remains to be 
completed in the next few months, as shown in table 1. 

Table 1: Status of Key System Testing Activities: 

Census system: Headquarters Processing - Universe Control and 
Management; 
Description: Organizes address files into enumeration "universes," 
which serve as the basis for enumeration operations and response data 
collection; 
Status of testing activities: System development is divided into three 
phases. According to the Bureau, the first of three phases was 
deployed for initial operations in July 2009, which was completed in 
January 2010. Limited functionality of the second release was deployed 
beginning in December 2009, and deployment of the remaining 
functionality is planned to be completed by September 2010. 

Census system: Headquarters Processing - Response Processing System; 
Description: Receives response data and edits the data to help 
eliminate duplicate responses by, for example, identifying people who 
have been enumerated more than once; 
Status of testing activities: System development is divided into six 
components. The first component of this system was deployed in 
February 2010. The program plans to complete testing of the five 
remaining components by December 2010. 

Census system: Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geographic 
Encoding and Referencing system; 
Description: Provides geographic information and support to aid the 
Bureau in establishing where to count the U.S. population for the 2010 
Census; 
Status of testing activities: The system has been functioning in a 
limited capacity since September 2007; however, additional testing is 
needed for 2010 operations. As of January 2010, all nine test plans 
for 2010 operations have been finalized. Testing activities for one 
test plan have been completed, seven are under way, and one has not 
yet started. Geographic information needed to support key operations, 
such as NRFU, is planned to be delivered by April 2010. 

Census system: Field Data Collection Automation (FDCA); 
Description: Provides automation support for field data collection 
operations. It includes the development of handheld computers for the 
address canvassing operation and the systems, equipment, and 
infrastructure that field staff will use to collect data; 
Status of testing activities: Development and testing for FDCA has 
been completed. The FDCA applications related to address canvassing 
were deployed and the operation completed. Map printing software has 
been deployed to field offices. The FDCA contractor is supporting map 
printing activities. 

Census system: Decennial Response Integration System; 
Description: Collects and integrates census responses from all 
sources, including forms and telephone interviews; 
Status of testing activities: Six increments of system development and 
testing, as well as additional operational testing, have been 
completed. System functionality for paper data capture capabilities 
were deployed in early March 2010. Additional functionality for the 
coverage follow-up operation, where census workers follow up to 
resolve conflicting information provided on census forms, is planned 
for deployment in mid-April 2010. 

Census system: Data Access and Dissemination System II (DADS II); 
Description: Replaces legacy systems for tabulating and publicly 
disseminating data; 
Status of testing activities: The system consists of two subsystems, 
each with three iterations of development and testing. For one 
subsystem, the program is testing the second of the three iterations. 
For the other subsystem, the program is currently testing the third 
iteration. DADS II is needed for operations beginning in December 2010. 

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

[End of table] 

Given the importance of IT systems to the decennial census, it is 
critical that the Bureau ensure that DAPPS, PBOCS, and other key 
systems are thoroughly tested and able to meet full operational 
requirements. The limited amount of time to resolve what are, in 
certain cases, significant performance issues creates a substantial 
challenge for the Bureau. 

The Implementation of Key Enumeration Activities Continues to Make 
Progress: 

In contrast to the IT systems, the rollout of other activities is 
going more smoothly. Indeed, the Bureau has taken steps to address 
certain previously identified problems, and its plans to improve the 
count of hard-to-enumerate groups are generally more robust compared 
to similar activities during the 2000 Census. Those activities include 
procedures for fingerprinting temporary employees; the rollout of key 
marketing efforts aimed at improving the participation of hard-to-
count populations; the Bureau's plans for mailing a second, follow-up 
questionnaire and the removal of late mail returns; activities aimed 
at including the homeless and people residing in nonconventional 
dwellings; and the Bureau's plans to secure a complete count of those 
in the hurricane-affected areas along the Gulf Coast. 

Bureau Has Taken Steps to Reduce the Number of Unclassifiable 
Fingerprints of Temporary Workers: 

The Bureau plans to fingerprint its temporary workforce for the first 
time in the 2010 Census to better conduct background security checks 
on its workforce of hundreds of thousands of temporary census workers. 
[Footnote 9] However, the Bureau found that during address canvassing, 
an operation that the Bureau conducted in the summer of 2009 to verify 
every address in the country, 22 percent of the workers (approximately 
35,700 people) hired for the operation had unclassifiable prints. The 
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) determined that this problem was 
generally the result of errors that occurred when the prints were 
first taken at the local census offices. 

To fingerprint workers during address canvassing, Bureau employees 
captured two sets of fingerprints on ink fingerprint cards from each 
temporary worker by the end of the workers' first day of training. The 
cards were then sent to the Bureau's National Processing Center in 
Jeffersonville, Indiana, to be scanned and electronically submitted to 
the FBI. If the first set of prints were unclassifiable, then the 
National Processing Center sent the FBI the second set of prints. If 
the results showed a criminal record that made an employee unsuitable 
for employment, the Bureau either terminated the person immediately or 
placed the individual in a nonworking status until the matter was 
resolved. 

To help ensure the success of fingerprinting operations for NRFU--
which will peak at approximately 484,000 fingerprint submissions over 
a 3-day period from April 28-30, 2010--the Bureau will follow similar 
procedures, but has taken additional steps to improve fingerprint 
image quality. The steps include refining training manuals used to 
instruct local census office staff on how to take fingerprints, 
scheduling fingerprint training closer to when the prints are 
captured, and increasing the length of training. Further, the Bureau 
plans on using an oil-free lotion during fingerprinting that is 
believed to raise the ridges on fingertips to improve the legibility 
of the prints. 

The Bureau has also revised its procedures for refingerprinting 
employees when both fingerprint cards cannot be read. During address 
canvassing, if both sets of fingerprints were unclassifiable, workers 
were allowed to continue working if their name background check was 
acceptable and would be refingerprinted only if rehired for future 
operations. Under the revised policy, the Bureau plans, wherever 
operationally feasible, to digitally capture a third and fourth set of 
fingerprints if the FBI cannot classify the first two sets. The Bureau 
plans to purchase approximately 1,017 digital fingerprint scanners. 
Each local census office will receive at least one machine, with the 
remaining scanners to be distributed at the discretion of the Regional 
Director. The Bureau estimates that this additional step could reduce 
the percentage of workers with unclassifiable prints from 22 percent 
to approximately 10 to 12 percent, or an estimated 60,000 to 72,000 
temporary workers for NRFU. We did not receive a response from the 
Bureau on whether it will allow those workers with unclassifiable 
prints to continue to work on NRFU operations. 

The Bureau's Communications Campaign Is Aimed at Hard-to-Count Groups: 

A complete and accurate census is becoming an increasingly daunting 
task, in part because the nation's population is growing larger, more 
diverse, and more reluctant to participate. To overcome these 
challenges, the Bureau has developed the Integrated Communications 
Campaign aimed at, among other things, improving the mail response 
rate and reducing the differential undercount.[Footnote 10] An 
undercount occurs when the census misses a person who should have been 
included; an overcount occurs when an individual is counted in error. 
What makes these errors particularly problematic is their differential 
impact on various subgroups. Minorities, renters, and children, for 
example, are more likely to be undercounted by the census while more 
affluent groups, such as people with vacation homes, are more likely 
to be enumerated more than once. As shown in table 2, the 2010 
communications campaign consists of four components: the partnership 
program, paid advertising, public relations, and an educational 
program called Census in Schools. 

Table 2: 2010 Census Communications Campaign Components: 

Component: Partnership program; 
Description: Engages key government and community organizations and 
gains their commitment to support the census, focusing resources on 
hard-to-count communities. Among other contributions, partners help 
recruit census workers, help locate space for Questionnaire Assistance 
Centers and for testing census job applicants, sponsor community 
events to promote census participation, and motivate individuals to 
complete their census forms. 

Component: Paid advertising; 
Description: Uses numerous paid media sources, such as TV, radio, the 
Internet, and magazines, to encourage census participation, 
particularly by hard-to-count populations, such as minorities, 
renters, and linguistically isolated populations. 

Component: Public relations; 
Description: Engages audiences via media activities to create 
credible, memorable messages. 

Component: Census in Schools; 
Description: Provides schools with lesson plans and teaching materials 
to support existing curricula so that students can get the message 
home to parents and guardians that answering the census is important 
and confidential. 

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 

[End of table] 

For the 2010 Census, the Bureau has expanded its outreach to partner 
organizations, which include state and local governments, community 
groups, and businesses. The Bureau increased partnerships from 
approximately 140,000 during the 2000 Census to more than 210,000 as 
of March 2010. The Bureau's partnership program stems from its 
recognition that without the assistance and support of members of 
local communities--trusted voices--the message that participating in 
the census is important and confidential will not reach everyone, 
particularly those in hard-to-count areas and populations. The Bureau 
hopes that local people who are trusted by the communities they 
represent can promote the census and persuade everyone to respond. 

The communications campaign's initial budget of $410 million was 
increased by $220 million in additional funds appropriated by the 
Recovery Act.[Footnote 11] As a result, the Bureau was able to greatly 
expand its communications campaign activities. For example, the Bureau 
hired about 3,000 partnership staff, over 2,000 more than it 
originally planned to hire, and increased its paid advertising 
purchases targeted at specific ethnic or language audiences by more 
than $33 million (85 percent) over its initial plan of about $39 
million. The increased funding should enhance the Bureau's capacity to 
reach out to hard-to-count communities. In all, the Bureau plans to 
spend about $72 million on paid advertising targeted to specific 
ethnic or language audiences, which is about $11 million more than the 
almost $61 million the Bureau plans to spend targeting the general 
population. 

However, even with the additional Recovery Act funds, the Bureau plans 
to spend less for some components of the 2010 paid media buys than it 
did for 2000, when compared in constant 2010 dollars. For example, 
although the total budget for the 2010 paid advertising is $253 
million, which is about $12 million (5 percent) more than 2000, the 
Bureau plans to spend about $133 million of it on the total 
advertising buy, which is about $27 million (17 percent) less compared 
to the about $160 million spent in 2000. Table 3 shows the Bureau's 
2010 budget for paid media buys by target audience compared to what 
was spent in 2000. 

Table 3: Paid Advertising Buys by Target Audience, 2000 vs. 2010: 

Component: Total buy; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$160,406,244; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $133,003,094. 

Component: Mass audience; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$84,441,528; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $60,811,800. 

Component: Ethnic/Language audience; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$75,964,716; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $72,191,294. 

Component: Hispanic; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$27,535,788; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $25,496,100. 

Component: Black (including African and Caribbean); 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$24,816,618; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $22,978,350. 

Component: Asian; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$14,603,328; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $13,521,600. 

Component: Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$214,326; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $1,100,000. 

Component: American Indian/Alaska Native; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$4,088,232; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $3,785,400. 

Component: Emerging audiences[A]; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$2,198,664; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $2,035,800. 

Component: Puerto Rico; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$1,892,484; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $2,400,000. 

Component: Island areas; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): 
$615,276; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): 0. 

Component: New legacy languages[B]; 
Census 2000 (2000 actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars): Not 
applicable; 
Census 2010 (budgeted): $874,044. 

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

[A] Emerging audiences includes Polish, Russian, and Arabic speaking 
populations. 

[B] New legacy languages includes Portuguese, German, Italian, Greek, 
French, and Yiddish. 

[End of table] 

In addition, the Bureau's 2010 budget for items other than the actual 
media buys--research, testing, labor, travel, production, and other 
overhead costs--outpaced that spent in 2000. As shown in table 4, for 
2010 the Bureau budgeted almost $120 million for such overhead costs, 
while in 2000 the Bureau spent just over $80 million, in constant 2010 
dollars. That $120 million is 47 percent of the total paid media 
budget, while in 2000 overhead costs accounted for about 33 percent of 
the paid media budget. 

Table 4: Paid Advertising Purchases and Overhead 2000 Census vs. 2010 
Census (2010 dollars, in millions): 

Census 2000 (actual expenditures in 2010 constant dollars); 
Paid media budget (including overhead): $240.6 million; 
Overhead: $80.2 million; 
Percentage of overhead vs. paid media budget: 33%. 

Census 2010 (budgeted); 
Paid media budget (including overhead): $252.8 million; 
Overhead: $119.8 million; 
Percentage of overhead vs. paid media budget: 47%. 

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

[End of table] 

Decreased spending on paid advertising and increased spending on 
overhead costs, in real terms, may seem like a step in the wrong 
direction for promoting census participation. However, by better 
targeting paid advertising buys the Bureau expects to reach those who 
have historically been the hardest to count. For example, the Bureau 
based its decisions on how to allocate spending across different 
ethnic and language audiences based on a variety of factors, such as 
historical response data for an area, prevalence of hard-to-count 
households in a market, population size, and availability of in-market 
media, among others. The Bureau also received input from staff in 
census regional offices, as well as an independent 2010 Census 
advisory group called the Race and Ethnic Advisory Committee. 

Further, the Bureau targeted the paid advertising messages based on 
market and attitudinal research. For example, the Bureau's attitudinal 
research identified five mindsets people have about the census, 
ranging from what Bureau research identified as "leading edge"-those 
who are highly likely to respond--to the "cynical fifth" who are less 
likely to participate because they doubt that the census provides 
tangible benefits. The Bureau used this information to develop 
messages to motivate each cohort to participate in the census. To 
target the cynical fifth, for example, the Bureau developed 
advertising with the message that the census is important to their 
community. 

In addition to the use of TV and radio broadcasts, in 2010, the Bureau 
is using new methods, such as downloadable podcasts, YouTube videos, 
and social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Further, the 
Bureau is integrating census messages into programming, talk, and 
entertainment shows in an attempt to appeal to people in new and more 
personal ways: 

In addition, as shown in table 5, the Bureau has made other noteworthy 
changes to 2010 paid advertising and partnership program activities, 
which are aimed at expanding outreach to hard-to-count groups and 
better monitoring and evaluating campaign effectiveness. 

Table 5: Key Differences between 2000 and 2010 Paid Advertising and 
Partnership Activities: 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: Campaign 
development and targeting; 
2000 Census: Targeted advertisements by segmenting the population into 
three groups of census participation likelihood, based on measures of 
civic participation in an area, such as school board involvement; 
2010 Census: Advertisements targeted based in part on actual Census 
2000 participation rates and attitudinal research. 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: Campaign 
development and targeting; 
2000 Census: Paid media messages developed in 16 languages; 
2010 Census: Paid media messages developed in 28 languages. 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: Campaign 
development and targeting; 
2000 Census: No electronic and Web-based communications; 
2010 Census: Electronic and Web-based communications available. 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: Campaign 
development and targeting; 
2000 Census: Majority of paid advertising resources targeted to 
national mass audience; 
2010 Census: Majority of paid advertising resources targeted to 
ethnic/language audiences. 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: Implementation; 
2000 Census: Hired about 600 partnership staff; 
2010 Census: Hired about 3,000 partnership staff. 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: Implementation; 
2000 Census: Partnership staff spoke 35 languages; 
2010 Census: Partnership staff speak 124 languages. 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: 
2000 Census: No rapid response/media contingency fund for unexpected 
events; 
2010 Census: Established a $7.4 million rapid response/media 
contingency fund to address unexpected events, such as lower response 
rates in certain areas. 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: Monitoring; 
2000 Census: No real-time metrics to measure effectiveness of paid 
media and limited real-time tracking of partnership activities; 
2010 Census: Established metrics to measure effectiveness of paid 
media and partnership program, such as real-time tracking of attitudes 
through national polling and value-added contributions of partner 
organizations. 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: Monitoring; 
2000 Census: Partnership tracking system cumbersome and not user-
friendly; 
2010 Census: Revamped partnership tracking system by, among other 
things, allowing for up-to-date monitoring of partner activity and new 
Web-based interface. 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: Evaluation; 
2000 Census: Evaluation measuring the impact of paid media and 
partnership program on awareness of the census; 
2010 Census: Evaluation of awareness of the census, and controlled 
experiment measuring the impact of increased paid advertising exposure 
on mail response. 

Paid advertising and partnership program activities: Evaluation; 
2000 Census: No cost benefit analysis; 
2010 Census: Cost benefit analysis of paid advertising. 

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

[End of table] 

In summary, our analysis suggests that the paid advertising and 
partnership activities, along with the other components of the 
Bureau's communications campaign, are generally more robust than the 
Bureau's promotional efforts during the 2000 Census, in that the 
entire effort is more comprehensive and activities appear to be more 
data driven and targeted. Moving forward, the key challenge facing the 
campaign is that it must not only raise awareness of the census, it 
must also influence participation, a far more difficult task. 

In addition to the communications campaign, the Bureau is taking other 
steps to reach out to the public. Particularly noteworthy is the 2010 
Census Web site (http://2010.census.gov/2010census), which describes, 
among other topics, the purpose of the census, why it is important, 
and how the Bureau protects the confidentiality of responses. 
Information on the census is available in dozens of languages. 
Further, the Web site contains a "Director's Blog" where the head of 
the Bureau posts his thoughts on the enumeration and responds to 
topical issues and public concerns. For example, a recent posting 
explained why, in some cases, there is a difference between the 
address on the mailings one receives from the Bureau and the physical 
location of the house. Similar information is provided on the Web site 
in a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ). 

Looking ahead to the 2020 Census, some of the issues in the Director's 
Blog and FAQs could, to some extent, be handled proactively and more 
efficiently through the Bureau's household mailings. For example, 
questions arose as to why the Bureau spent money on an advance mailing 
telling people their questionnaires would be arriving soon. Although 
research has shown that advance mailings can help increase the 
response rate and thus save money, this was not mentioned in the 
advance letter, and the Director had to discuss it in his blog in 
order to reduce confusion and criticism. Likewise, some people might 
have been confused by getting a separate census questionnaire, the 
American Community Survey, prior to the decennial questionnaire. This 
too, could have been addressed as part of an advance letter. While not 
every eventuality can be foreseen, as the Bureau plans for 2020, it 
will be important for it take stock of the various inquiries and 
concerns that arose at the time of the 2010 questionnaire mailings, 
and determine whether any of them could be explained up front as part 
of the advance letter. Doing so could help improve the public's 
understanding of the Bureau's approach and help head off issues that 
could undermine the response rate, the Bureau's credibility, or both. 

Second Census Questionnaire Has Potential to Increase Response Rate: 

The Bureau's strategy to mail a second, or replacement, census 
questionnaire will be implemented for the first time in 2010 and is an 
important step toward improving response and decreasing costs. 
According to Bureau studies, mailing a replacement questionnaire 
increases overall response from households that do not respond to the 
initial questionnaire, which could generate significant cost savings 
by eliminating the need for census workers to obtain those responses 
via personal visits. 

The Bureau plans to mail approximately 30 million replacement 
questionnaires to all households in census tracts that had the lowest 
response rates in Census 2000 (known as blanket replacement). Also, 
the Bureau plans to mail approximately 12 million replacement 
questionnaires to nonresponding households in other census tracts that 
had low-to-moderate response rates in 2000 (known as targeted 
replacement). In order to enhance the effectiveness of the replacement 
mailing, the Bureau will include a cover letter to distinguish the 
initial and replacement questionnaires and as an effort to avoid 
receiving duplicate responses. Replacement questionnaires will be 
English only, regardless of whether the household will receive a 
bilingual English/Spanish questionnaire in the initial mailing. 
[Footnote 12] According to a Bureau official, mailing a bilingual 
replacement questionnaire was logistically impractical for 2010, given 
the limitations of the printing process and the 5-day time frame for 
the targeted replacement mailing. Thus, in looking forward to the 2020 
Census, it will be important for the Bureau to evaluate the 
possibility of sending bilingual replacement questionnaires to those 
households that initially received a bilingual questionnaire. 

The Bureau plans to mail replacement questionnaires between April 1 
and April 10 and develop an initial list of nonresponding households 
on April 7. Because the Bureau will likely receive replacement 
questionnaires after April 7, it must be able to effectively remove 
these late mail returns from the list of nonresponding households, or 
the NRFU workload. Removing late mail returns is important because it 
prevents enumerators from visiting households that already returned 
their census forms, thus reducing NRFU workload and cost as well as 
respondent burden. As shown in table 6, the Bureau plans to remove 
late mail returns from the NRFU workload four times using one 
automated and three manual processes. The Bureau has some experience 
with the manual process because some local census offices did some 
testing of late mail removals during the 2000 Census. In addition, 
they have developed quality assurance procedures for the manual 
removal process. In the weeks ahead, it will be important for the 
Bureau to ensure that local census offices follow these procedures so 
that households are not unnecessarily visited by an enumerator or 
inadvertently removed from the follow-up workload and missed in the 
census count. 

Table 6: Replacement Mailing and Late Mail Returns Removal Are on a 
Tight Schedule: 

Activity: Initial census questionnaires mailed; 
Date: March 15-17, 2010. 

Activity: Census Day; 
Date: April 1. 

Activity: Blanket replacement questionnaires mailed; 
Date: April 1-3, 2010. 

Activity: Targeted replacement questionnaires mailed; 
Date: April 6-10, 2010. 

Activity: NRFU workload created; 
Date: April 7, 2010. 

Activity: Automated removal of late mail returns; 
Date: April 21, 2010. 

Activity: First manual removal of late mail returns (even-numbered 
assignment areas); 
Date: April 24-25, 2010. 

Activity: Second manual removal of late mail returns (odd-numbered 
assignment areas); 
Date: May 1-2, 2010. 

Activity: Third manual removal of late mail returns; 
Date: June 2010[A]. 

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

[A] The third clerical removal occurs when 95 percent of the work in a 
local census office is completed and the remaining assignments are 
brought in to redistribute. 

[End of table] 

The Bureau Will Employ Special Operations and Programs to Help 
Enumerate Certain Hard-to-Count Populations: 

The Bureau has historically experienced challenges in enumerating hard-
to-count populations, which has contributed to the undercount in 
previous decennials. Those at risk of being missed by the census 
include people living in nonconventional dwellings, such as cars and 
boats, as well as those living in large group households and converted 
basements or attics. People commonly referred to as "homeless" are 
also at risk of being missed. 

To help ensure that these individuals are counted, the Bureau plans to 
employ several initiatives. For example, Service Based Enumeration 
(SBE) is designed to count people who lack permanent shelter at soup 
kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans, and other locations 
where they receive services. This operation, along with a count of 
people living outdoors, is to take place from March 29 to March 31, 
2010. 

Moreover, the Bureau's Be Counted program is designed to reach those 
who may not have received a census questionnaire, including people who 
do not have a usual residence, such as transients, migrants, and 
seasonal farm workers. The program makes questionnaires available at 
community centers, libraries, places of worship, and other public 
locations throughout the country. The questionnaires are typically 
available in 6 different languages, with assistance guides in 59 
languages, as well as Braille and large-print English guides. The 
Bureau has also set up staffed Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC), 
at which people can ask questions and obtain guidance on filling out 
their questionnaires. 

According to the Bureau, it plans to establish 30,000 QAC sites that 
will also have Be Counted forms, as well as 10,000 stand alone Be 
Counted locations.[Footnote 13] To determine where to locate the Be 
Counted and QAC sites, the Bureau used demographic information and 
worked with local partnership specialists who used their knowledge of 
the area to help ensure they were placed in areas with large hard-to- 
count populations. The program is scheduled to run from March 19 to 
April 19, 2010. 

Although these efforts have the potential to produce a more complete 
and accurate count, during the 2000 Census, as we noted in our prior 
work, such efforts experienced various implementation issues.[Footnote 
14] Table 7 describes some of those issues, and the steps the Bureau 
says it has taken to address them for 2010. 

Table 7: Challenges Identified in 2000 and How the Bureau Addressed 
Them: 

Issue: Inadequate ,materials and supplies; 
Challenges GAO identified in 2000: Enumerators said that they did not 
have a sufficient supply of questionnaires and training materials as 
they were preparing to conduct the SBE effort; 
Bureau's response to resolve issues for 2010: Enumerators will use one 
type of questionnaire for SBE enumeration, as opposed to the three 
different types used in 2000. The Bureau believes this approach should 
minimize confusion and the amount of time required to sort and package 
materials. 

Issue: Inadequate training; 
Challenges GAO identified in 2000: There was inadequate training for 
census enumerators because of training materials arriving late; 
for example, training materials, including a video of a mock soup 
kitchen visit, arrived too late at one census office, so it was not 
used to train the enumerators before they started SBE; 
Bureau's response to resolve issues for 2010: The Bureau has 
consolidated SBE and Group Quarters Enumeration (GQE) training, since 
SBE is a segment of its GQE effort. Unlike in 2000, the training was 
not uniform and consistent across the country for each SBE operation, 
which also affected the timely delivery of training materials. 

Issue: Lack of advance planning; 
Challenges GAO identified in 2000: Lack of advance planning resulted 
in enumerators showing up at facilities at inappropriate times or 
bringing too many personnel, which can be intimidating to homeless 
people; 
Bureau's response to resolve issues for 2010: Through its group 
quarters advance visit operation, the Bureau documented issues that 
could affect SBE enumeration operations and estimated the number of 
people needed to enumerate each facility. Where needed, the Bureau 
will also send cultural advocates from the community to help alleviate 
cultural barriers, because local knowledge is critical at these 
particular sites. 

Source: GAO. 

[End of table] 

In 2000, we reported on limitations that hampered the effectiveness of 
the Be Counted and QAC sites.[Footnote 15] They included the following: 

* the Bureau was not always satisfied with site selections that local 
partners proposed, 

* a lack of visibility at Be Counted sites, 

* inadequate recordkeeping and monitoring, and: 

* a lack of quality services provided at QACs. 

For the 2010 Census, the Bureau hopes to address these issues in part 
by: 

* establishing guidelines in selecting Be Counted sites, to ensure 
consistency among those involved in decision making about site 
selection; 

* having a banner clearly visible to individuals as they walk into a 
facility that houses a Be Counted site; 

* establishing procedures to strengthen recordkeeping activities at Be 
Counted sites, including an online system that tracks services the 
QACs provide on a daily basis; and: 

* staffing the QACs with trained and paid census staff, compared to 
2000 when some QAC staff were volunteers. 

The Bureau Has Tailored Operations to Enumerate Hurricane-Affected 
Areas: 

The scale of the destruction in areas affected by hurricanes Katrina, 
Rita, and Ike has made getting a complete and accurate population 
count in parts of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas especially 
challenging (see figure 2). Hurricane Katrina alone destroyed or made 
uninhabitable an estimated 300,000 homes. As we have previously 
testified,[Footnote 16] the Bureau, partly in response to 
recommendations made in our June 2007 report,[Footnote 17] developed 
supplemental training materials for natural disaster areas to help 
census address listers, when developing the census address list, 
identify addresses where people are, or may be, living when census 
questionnaires are distributed. For example, the materials noted the 
various situations that address listers might encounter, such as 
people living in trailers, homes marked for demolition, converted 
buses and recreational vehicles, and nonresidential space, such as 
storage areas above restaurants. The training materials also described 
the clues that could alert address listers to the presence of 
nontraditional places where people are living and provided a script 
they should follow when interviewing residents on the possible 
presence of hidden housing units. 

Figure 2: Locating and Counting People Displaced by Storms Presents a 
Challenge Because Occupied Housing Units Could Be Hard to Identify: 

[Refer to PDF for image: 2 photographs] 

Source: GAO. 

[End of figure] 

To ensure a quality count in the hurricane-affected areas, the Bureau 
is hand delivering an estimated 1.2 million census questionnaires in 
these areas through the Update Leave operation, where census workers 
update addresses and provide a mailback census questionnaire to each 
living quarters in their assigned areas. The Bureau began delivering 
questionnaires on March 1, 2010, to housing units that appear 
inhabitable in much of southeast Louisiana, south Mississippi, and 
Texas, even if they do not appear on the Bureau's address list. 
Occupants are being asked to complete and return the questionnaire by 
mail. Census workers are also identifying modifications for the 
Bureau's address list, including additions, deletions, corrections, 
and spotting duplicate information. The Update Leave operation is 
scheduled to last 25 days, and as of March 22, 2010, the Bureau had 
completed 67 percent of the workload. 

Our observations in the New Orleans area, while not generalizable to 
other parts of the country, identified some of the challenges that 
census workers experience in the field. Some of those challenges 
include dogs and other safety concerns, long distances traveled 
between addresses, and the remains of housing units that were left 
uninhabitable by Hurricane Katrina at the same locations as occupied 
housing units (see figure 3). These types of challenges could drive up 
costs because they slow productivity, or might affect accuracy because 
they make it difficult to determine habitability. 

Figure 3: Trailers Made Uninhabitable by Hurricanes Located on Same 
Lots as Occupied Trailers: 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source: GAO. 

[End of figure] 

By hand delivering questionnaires, the Bureau hopes to ensure that 
housing units that may have been missed will receive and return 
questionnaires, ultimately improving the accuracy of the count. 
Finally, the Bureau stated that it must count people where they are 
living on Census Day and emphasized that if a housing unit gets 
rebuilt and people move back before Census Day, then that is where 
those people will be counted. However, if they are living someplace 
else, then they should be counted where they are living on Census Day. 

The Bureau Has Revised Its Cost Estimate for Nonresponse Follow-up but 
Needs to Complete Additional Updates as Planned: 

In 2008, we reported that the Bureau had not carried out the necessary 
analyses to demonstrate that the then life-cycle cost estimate of 
about $11.5 billion for the 2010 Census was credible, and we 
recommended that the Bureau better document and update the estimate, 
to which it generally agreed.[Footnote 18] Since then, two early 
census field operations have experienced major differences between 
their estimated and actual costs. For address canvassing, where census 
workers verify address lists and maps, actual costs exceeded the 
Bureau's initial estimate of $356 million by $89 million, or 25 
percent. In contrast, for group quarters validation, where census 
workers verify addresses of group housing, actual costs were below the 
Bureau's estimate of $71 million by about $29 million, or 41 percent. 
[Footnote 19] 

Because of cost overruns during address canvassing, as well as 
concerns over the increased number of vacant units due to 
foreclosures, the Bureau has implemented our recommendation and 
reexamined and updated the assumptions and other data used to support 
the cost estimate for NRFU, the most costly and labor-intensive of all 
census field operations. The Bureau recently provided us with the 
results from that reexamination. Although we have not fully assessed 
the Bureau's analysis, our preliminary review shows that the Bureau 
provided a range of possible NRFU cost estimates, with $2.3 billion 
being the midpoint. The amount budgeted for NRFU is $2.7 billion. In 
assessing the estimate, the Bureau considered a number of cost 
drivers. For example, the Bureau reviewed (1) fieldwork assumptions--
such as miles driven per case, pay rates, hours worked per week, and 
attrition--which the Bureau updated based on actual Census 2000 data, 
national and field tests, and address canvassing results; (2) factors 
affecting response rate and hence NRFU workload, such as the national 
trend in survey response, use of a bilingual questionnaire and 
replacement mailing for 2010, and the vacancy rate; and (3) enumerator 
productivity rates, which are based on regional managers' concerns 
over enumerating vacant units and non-English-speaking households. 
Further, in its analysis, the Bureau cited holding pay rates for NRFU 
temporary staff at 2009 levels, rather than increasing rates for 2010, 
as one of the reasons for the reduction in NRFU costs. 

According to the Bureau, two cost drivers--workload, based on the mail 
response rate, and productivity--are uncertain and could have a 
significant effect on the ultimate cost of NRFU. For example, the 
Bureau states that if the response rate decreases by 2 percentage 
points due to extreme circumstances, such as an immigration backlash, 
costs could increase by $170 million. Likewise, if PBOCS continues to 
experience performance problems causing 2 weeks of lost productivity, 
the Bureau says it would need to hire and train more staff to complete 
NRFU in order to deliver the apportionment counts to the President by 
December 31, 2010, which, according to the Bureau, could increase 
costs by about $138 million. 

As we previously recommended, revising cost estimates with updated 
data is an important best practice for cost estimation. However, the 
Bureau's analyses of cost are not complete. While the Bureau has 
finalized its reexamination of NRFU cost, it continues to update the 
costs for other NRFU-related operations. These operations include the 
NRFU Reinterview, a quality assurance procedure designed to ensure 
that field procedures were followed and to identify census workers who 
intentionally or unintentionally produced data errors. It also 
includes the Vacancy/Delete Check operation, which is a follow-up to 
NRFU and is designed to verify the status of addresses classified as 
vacant or addresses determined to be nonexistent (deletes) during 
NRFU, as well as cases added since the NRFU workload was initially 
identified. According to the Bureau, emerging information about the 
Vacancy/Delete Check operation suggests that the workload may be much 
higher than originally expected and could increase costs from $345 
million to $482 million--by almost $137 million, or 40 percent. The 
Bureau said that it will update the cost estimates of both these 
operations once additional information becomes available. 

A reliable cost estimate is critical to the success of any program 
because it provides the basis for informed investment decision making, 
realistic budget formulation, meaningful progress measurement, 
proactive course correction when warranted, and accountability for 
results. 

Concluding Observations: 

Mr. Chairman, with a week remaining until Census Day, the Bureau's 
readiness for the headcount is mixed. On the one hand, with data 
collection already under way, the ability of key IT systems to 
function under full operational loads has not yet been demonstrated. 
The issues facing these systems need to be resolved, and with little 
time remaining, additional testing must take place. Likewise, 
questions remain regarding the ultimate cost of the 2010 Census, as 
the Bureau continues to analyze the cost of NRFU-related operations. 

On the other hand, certain operations, such as the communications 
campaign and efforts to enumerate group quarters, generally appear to 
be on track and more robust compared to similar efforts for the 2000 
Census, better positioning the Bureau for a complete and accurate 
headcount. In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to monitor 
the Bureau's progress in addressing these issues, as well as the 
implementation of the census as a whole, on behalf of the subcommittee. 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be happy to respond 
to any questions that you or other members of the subcommittee may 
have at this time. 

Contacts and Acknowledgments: 

If you have any questions on matters discussed in this statement, 
please contact Robert Goldenkoff at (202) 512-2757 or 
goldenkoffr@gao.gov. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional 
Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this 
testimony. Key contributors to this testimony include Peter Beck, 
David Bobruff, Benjamin Crawford, Dewi Djunaidy, Vijay D'Souza, 
Elizabeth Fan, Ronald Fecso, Richard Hung, Kirsten Lauber, Andrea 
Levine, Signora May, Lisa Pearson, David Powner, Stacy Spence, 
Jonathan Ticehurst, Cheri Truett, and Timothy Wexler. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

2010 Census: Operational Changes Made for 2010 Position the U.S. 
Census Bureau to More Accurately Classify and Identify Group Quarters. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-452T]. Washington, 
D.C.: February 22, 2010. 

2010 Census: Census Bureau Has Made Progress on Schedule and 
Operational Control Tools, but Needs to Prioritize Remaining System 
Requirements. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-59]. 
Washington, D.C.: November 13, 2009. 

2010 Census: Efforts to Build an Accurate Address List Are Making 
Progress, but Face Software and Other Challenges. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-140T]. Washington, D.C.: October 
21, 2009. 

2010 Census: Census Bureau Continues to Make Progress in Mitigating 
Risks to a Successful Enumeration, but Still Faces Various Challenges. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-132T]. Washington, 
D.C.: October 7, 2009. 

2010 Census: Communications Campaign Has Potential to Boost 
Participation. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-525T]. 
Washington, D.C.: March 23, 2009. 

2010 Census: Fundamental Building Blocks of a Successful Enumeration 
Face Challenges. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-430T]. 
Washington, D.C.: March 5, 2009. 

Information Technology: Census Bureau Testing of 2010 Decennial 
Systems Can Be Strengthened. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-262]. Washington, D.C.: March 5, 
2009. 

2010 Census: The Bureau's Plans for Reducing the Undercount Show 
Promise, but Key Uncertainties Remain. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-1167T]. Washington, D.C.: September 
23, 2008. 

2010 Census: Census Bureau's Decision to Continue with Handheld 
Computers for Address Canvassing Makes Planning and Testing Critical. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-936]. Washington, D.C.: 
July 31, 2008. 

2010 Census: Census Bureau Should Take Action to Improve the 
Credibility and Accuracy of Its Cost Estimate for the Decennial 
Census. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-554]. 
Washington, D.C.: June 16, 2008. 

Census 2010: Census at Critical Juncture for Implementing Risk 
Reduction Strategies. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-659T]. Washington, D.C.: April 9, 
2008. 

Information Technology: Census Bureau Needs to Improve Its Risk 
Management of Decennial Systems. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-79]. Washington, D.C.: October 5, 
2007. 

2010 Census: Basic Design Has Potential, but Remaining Challenges Need 
Prompt Resolution. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-9]. 
Washington, D.C.: January 12, 2005. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

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

[2] GAO, 2010 Census: Key Enumeration Activities Are Moving Forward, 
but Information Technology Systems Remain a Concern, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-430T] (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 23, 
2010). 

[3] Pub. L. No. 111-5 (Feb. 17, 2009). 

[4] See related GAO products at the end of this statement. 

[5] GAO, 2010 Census: Census Bureau Continues to Make Progress in 
Mitigating Risks to a Successful Enumeration, but Still Faces Various 
Challenges, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-132T] 
(Washington, D.C.: Oct. 7, 2009). 

[6] GAO, Information Technology: Census Bureau Testing of 2010 
Decennial Systems Can Be Strengthened, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-262] (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 5, 
2009). 

[7] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-262]. 

[8] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-430T].  

[9] For the 2000 Census, temporary employees were subject only to a 
background check on their names. 

[10] Differential undercount describes subpopulations that are 
undercounted at a different rate than the total population. 

[11] Pub. L. No. 111-5, div. A, tit. II, 123 Stat. 115, 127. In the 
conference report accompanying the Act, the conferees stated that "of 
the amounts provided, up to $250,000,000 shall be for partnership and 
outreach efforts to minority communities and hard-to-reach 
populations." H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 116-16 at 417 (2009). According to 
the Bureau, it plans to use $220 million for expanding the 
communications campaign and $30 million for expanding its coverage 
follow-up operation, where census workers follow up to resolve 
conflicting information provided on census forms. 

[12] The Bureau has identified about 13 million households that will 
receive a bilingual questionnaire for the 2010 Census. 

[13] The 10,000 Be Counted Centers will only provide the 
questionnaires. There will not be staff there to provide questionnaire 
assistance, assistance guides, or translated forms. 

[14] GAO, 2000 Census: Progress Report on the Mail Response Rate and 
Key Operations, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/T-GGD/AIMD-00-136] (Washington, D.C.: 
Apr. 5, 2000). 

[15] GAO, 2000 Census: Actions Taken to Improve the Be Counted and 
Questionnaire Assistance Center Programs, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-00-47] (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 25, 
2000). 

[16] GAO, 2010 Census: Efforts to Build an Accurate Address List Are 
Making Progress, but Face Software and Other Challenges, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-140T] (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 
2009). 

[17] GAO, 2010 Census: Census Bureau Has Improved the Local Update of 
Census Addresses Program, but Challenges Remain, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-736] (Washington, D.C.: June 14, 
2007). 

[18] See GAO, 2010 Census: Census Bureau Should Take Action to Improve 
the Credibility and Accuracy of Its Cost Estimate for the Decennial 
Census, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-554] 
(Washington, D.C.: June 16, 2008). In GAO-08-554, we reported that the 
Bureau had not performed sensitivity analysis (examining each cost 
estimate assumption or factor independently, while holding all others 
constant) or uncertainty analysis (capturing the cumulative effect of 
risks, which provides a level of confidence for the estimate), and had 
not obtained an independent cost estimate. As noted in GAO's Cost 
Estimating and Assessment Guide, these steps provide a basis for 
determining whether a cost estimate is credible and are key best 
practices for cost estimation. See GAO, GAO Cost Estimating and 
Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Developing and Managing Capital 
Program Costs, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-3SP] 
(Washington, D.C.: March 2009). 

[19] In a preliminary assessment, the Bureau attributed cost overruns 
in address canvassing to increased initial workload, underestimated 
quality control workload, and the need to train additional staff. The 
Bureau has not yet provided a cost assessment for group quarters 
validation. 

[End of section] 

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