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entitled '2010 Census: Census Bureau Should Refine Recruiting and 
Hiring Efforts and Enhance Training of Temporary Field Staff' which was 
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Report to Congressional Addressees: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

April 2007: 

2010 Census: 

Census Bureau Should Refine Recruiting and Hiring Efforts and Enhance 
Training of Temporary Field Staff: 

GAO-07-361: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-07-361, a report to congressional addresses 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The success of the 2010 Census depends, in part, upon the U.S. Census 
Bureauís (Bureau) ability to recruit, hire, and train over half a 
million temporary workers at peak. Under the Comptroller Generalís 
authority, GAO reviewed the extent that the Bureauís (1) recruiting and 
hiring processes for these staff are consistent with selected human 
capital principles and (2) training delivery and content take into 
account known challenges. To answer these questions, GAO analyzed 
relevant reports and past recommendations to select principles for 
evaluating these activities, reviewed related Bureau documents, 
observed the 2006 Census Test in South Dakota and Texas, and 
interviewed Bureau officials. 

What GAO Found: 

For the 2010 Census, the Bureau plans to recruit 3.8 million applicants 
and hire nearly 600,000 temporary field staff from that applicant pool 
for two key operations: address canvassing, where staff verify the 
location of all housing units; and nonresponse follow-up, where they 
visit households that do not return census forms to collect data in 
person. Meeting these goals will be difficult because, since Census 
2000, the Bureau is facing increased challenges, including the 
automation of its field data collection and long-standing demographic 
shifts, whereby the population is increasingly diverse and hard to 
locate. For the 2010 Census, the Bureau plans to use a recruiting and 
hiring approach like the one it used in 2000, which Bureau officials 
considered a success. That approach is designed to ensure a sufficient 
pool of qualified applicants from which to hire, but the Bureau could 
recruit and hire more efficiently. 

Figure: 2010 Census Recruiting Timeline: 

[See PDF for Image] 

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

[End of figure] 

Opportunities exist for the Bureau to improve and refine recruiting and 
hiring processes for the 2010 Census. It could better target its 
recruiting and hiring by analyzing the characteristics, such as 
education and work status, of employees more likely to be successful at 
census work and less likely to leave. This would allow it to seek 
workers with the skills, interests, and likelihood for success. Also, 
the Bureau does not collect performance data needed to rehire former 
workers, to whom it may give hiring priority. Officials said they try 
to exclude those terminated for cause. Conduct problems, such as 
selling drugs or striking another worker or unsatisfactory performance, 
can result in such terminations. 

The Bureauís training approach for temporary field staff, consisting 
primarily of verbatim lectures, is largely unchanged from previous 
decennials. The Bureau is providing some computer-based training on 
using the handheld computers in key operations. However, despite 
findings that we and others have made suggesting that the Bureau 
consider alternatives to its verbatim approach, it has not done so. 
Further, although the Bureau has found that its field staff face an 
increasingly reluctant population and other location-specific 
challenges, it has not substantially changed the content of training. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO is recommending to the Secretary of Commerce that the Bureau refine 
its recruiting and hiring efforts and enhance training for field staff 
in the 2010 Census. These recommendations include using collected 
information to better target recruiting and hiring, collecting 
performance data on workers, and evaluating alternate approaches to 
delivering training. In commenting on a draft of this report, the 
Deputy Secretary of Commerce identified actions the Bureau would take 
on some of the recommendations but questioned the need to act on 
others. These stated actions partially respond to our recommendations. 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-361]. 

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

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

The Bureau Should Revise the Recruiting and Hiring of Its Temporary 
Field Staff: 

The Bureau Has Not Changed Training Delivery or Content for Temporary 
Field Staff to Fully Address Known Challenges: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Comments from the Department of Commerce: 

GAO Comments: 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Related GAO Products: 

Table: 

Table 1: Results of OPM's 1997 Evaluation of Competencies Needed for 
Different Field Staff: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: The Bureau's Planned Temporary Field Infrastructure for the 
2010 Census, Numbers at Peak: 

Figure 2: The Bureau's Recruiting and Hiring Timeline for Temporary 
Field Staff during the 2010 Census: 

Figure 3: Visual Created by Harris for Use in Training: 

Abbreviations: 

OIG: Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General: 

OPM: Office of Personnel Management: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

April 27, 2007: 

The Honorable Thomas R. Carper: 
Chairman: 
Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, 
Federal Services, and International Security: 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Henry A. Waxman: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Tom Davis: 
Ranking Member: 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: 
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable Wm. Lacy Clay: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Michael Turner: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives: 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: 
House of Representatives: 

The success of the U.S. Census Bureau's (Bureau) constitutionally 
mandated task of counting the nation's population every 10 years is 
contingent in part upon its ability to recruit, hire, and train a peak 
workforce of more than 500,000 temporary field staff needed to collect 
data through various operations. Of the $11.3 billion that the Bureau 
expects to spend for the 2010 Census, it estimates that over $2 billion 
will be used to employ temporary field staff for its major field 
operation--nonresponse follow-up--where enumerators visit households 
that did not return the mailed census forms to collect that data in 
person. It also plans to spend over $350 million to employ staff for 
another large field operation, address canvassing, where field workers 
verify the addresses of all housing units. These field staff contribute 
to the Bureau's efforts to produce data to be used to reapportion the 
seats of the U.S. House of Representatives; realign the boundaries of 
the legislative districts of each state; allocate hundreds of billions 
of dollars in federal financial assistance; and provide a social, 
demographic, and economic profile of the nation's people to guide 
policy decisions at each level of government. 

Despite a historically tight national labor market during Census 2000, 
the Bureau met its recruiting goals to hire field staff it could train 
for the decennial. However, the Bureau has the same daunting task of 
meeting its recruiting, hiring, and training goals for the 2010 Census, 
while faced with significant challenges. These challenges include 
demographic shifts whereby the population is increasingly diverse and 
difficult to locate, as well as newer challenges, such as the Bureau's 
reengineered approach, which incorporates the use of handheld computers 
for data collection in the field. 

Because the effectiveness of field workers is critical to the success 
of the census, we reviewed, under the Comptroller General's statutory 
authority to initiate evaluations, the Bureau's recruiting, hiring, and 
training processes for temporary field staff during the 2010 Census. As 
agreed with your offices, we are providing this report to you because 
it contains information that will be useful for your oversight 
responsibilities. Specifically, we reviewed the extent to which the 
Bureau's (1) recruiting and hiring processes for temporary field staff 
are consistent with selected human capital principles and (2) training 
delivery methods and training content take into account known 
challenges as observed and recorded in previous decennial operations. 

To determine whether the Bureau's recruiting and hiring practices in 
the field are consistent with selected human capital principles, we 
reviewed reports on leading human capital practices from a variety of 
sources, including our strategic human capital model,[Footnote 1] as 
well as documents from external sources, such as the Office of 
Personnel Management (OPM). We then identified and selected principles 
to use as criteria that we determined to be relevant and applicable to 
the Bureau's efforts to recruit and hire a temporary field staff based 
on our reports and that of the Department of Commerce (Commerce) Office 
of Inspector General (OIG), which made recommendations based on 
experiences during Census 2000 and tests in preparation for the 2010 
Census. These principles include developing human capital strategies 
that can be implemented with the resources reasonably expected to be 
available;[Footnote 2] evaluating and identifying critical skills 
needed by an agency facing a changing environment;[Footnote 3] using 
employee insights to develop responsive human capital 
practices;[Footnote 4] and matching the right people to the right jobs 
in such a way that would allow agencies to maximize economy, 
efficiency, and effectiveness in the face of finite resources.[Footnote 
5] We also reviewed Bureau documents on recruiting and hiring, 
including scripts used by recruiting staff, selection tests for 
temporary workers, and recruiting reports developed for local offices. 
We interviewed recruiting staff and other temporary field staff about 
their experiences with the recruiting and hiring process during the 
Bureau's 2006 Census Test, conducted at the Cheyenne River Reservation 
in South Dakota and in parts of Austin, Texas, in Travis County. We 
also obtained and analyzed personnel data on recruiting and hiring from 
the 2006 Census Test. Finally, we spoke with Bureau officials regarding 
our observations in the field and about plans for conducting recruiting 
and hiring during the upcoming 2008 Dress Rehearsal and the 2010 
Census. 

To determine whether training for temporary field staff takes into 
account known challenges, we reviewed prior recommendations on training 
that we, the Bureau, OIG, and others made. We also reviewed our guide 
for strategic training and other human capital reports for principles 
relevant to the Bureau's training efforts.[Footnote 6] For example, one 
key principle is that agencies should consider refinements to human 
capital initiatives, including training, in light of changing 
organizational needs.[Footnote 7] We attended training sessions at both 
2006 test sites and spoke with field staff about their impressions of 
training. We also accompanied field staff as they conducted their work 
to observe whether they were following the Bureau's prescribed 
protocol. We reviewed Bureau training manuals, scripts for instructors, 
and workbooks used by field staff during Census 2000 and the 2006 test. 
We also spoke with Bureau officials about our observations of training 
and operations in South Dakota and Texas. We obtained information about 
plans for the 2008 Dress Rehearsal and the 2010 Census as well as 
actions taken as a result of previous recommendations. Finally, we 
interviewed project staff at the Harris Corporation (Harris)-- 
contracted by the Bureau to develop handheld computers for field 
operations and training materials for those handheld computers. We 
obtained and reviewed Harris's planning documents and samples of 
materials being developed for the 2008 Dress Rehearsal and 2010 Census. 

We conducted our work from March 2006 through April 2007 in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

This report contains recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce to 
improve the Bureau's recruiting, hiring, and training of its temporary 
field staff. This report is also the latest in a series of evaluations 
that we have issued on the Bureau's preparations for the 2010 Census. 
See the Related GAO Products section at the end of this report for a 
list of selected reports we have issued to date. 

Results in Brief: 

The Bureau has taken some steps that are consistent with selected human 
capital principles, such as identifying the critical skills its field 
staff need to properly use handheld computers in the reengineered 
census and using employee insights to improve its recruiting and hiring 
processes. Overall, the Bureau plans to use an approach similar to the 
one it took during Census 2000 to recruit and hire its temporary 
workers for the 2010 Census. During Census 2000, that approach allowed 
the Bureau to recruit 3.7 million qualified applicants. The recruiting 
expenditures for fiscal years 1998 through 2000 were estimated to be 
$250 million, or about $66 per applicant. However, opportunities exist 
for the Bureau to improve and refine its recruiting and hiring of 
temporary workers for the 2010 Census. Specifically, the Bureau could 
better target its recruiting and hiring through an analysis to identify 
the characteristics of employees who are successful at census work and 
less likely to leave census work before an operation ends. This 
evaluation would allow the Bureau to seek workers with the skills, 
interests, and likelihood to be successful at census work. Employing 
such field staff could reduce or better control operational costs as 
well as recruiting and hiring expenditures. Further, the Bureau has not 
differentiated its hiring tools--written tests and phone interviews 
administered to each qualified applicant--to distinguish skills needed 
by people serving as crew leaders from those skills needed by other 
staff. Moreover, while Bureau policies recommend that former employees 
are rehired first before selecting individuals without prior census 
experience, the Bureau does not fully consider the past performance of 
these individuals. Rehiring, in this case, applies to field staff who 
left their positions--due to the end of an operation or for other 
reasons--but then were rehired for a subsequent operation in the same 
decennial. The Bureau does not use certain information that could help 
assess these applicants' competence nor does it prepare employee 
performance evaluations that could be used later when considering 
rehiring former employees. Bureau officials explained that, in their 
view, recruiting and hiring was effective in Census 2000 and will be 
effective again during the 2010 Census. However, refinements to the 
Bureau's approach for the 2010 Census could help it more efficiently 
recruit and hire. 

The Bureau has taken some actions to examine or enhance the delivery 
and content of the training it provides to temporary field staff to 
address challenges previously identified by the Bureau, us, and the 
OIG. The Bureau is providing some computer-based training on using the 
handheld computers for the nonresponse follow-up and address canvassing 
operations and will include visual aids to enhance training on using 
the handheld computers. Nonetheless, the Bureau's standardized approach 
to delivering training, including reading training scripts word-for- 
word over the course of several days, has remained largely unchanged. 
The Bureau has not evaluated alternate training delivery approaches, 
such as providing video segments, as has been recommended by us and the 
OIG. While, the Bureau will be including visuals created by a 
contractor that show how to use the handheld devices, it has not 
otherwise incorporated visual aids, such as posters or pictures, to 
enhance training on census work, as the Bureau and the OIG have 
recommended. Finally, the Bureau has not provided adequate training on 
the challenges field workers are likely to face, such as dealing with 
reluctant respondents and location-specific issues. The Bureau already 
collects data it can use to assess ways in which reluctance to respond 
to the census is increasing and areas where additional content may be 
necessary given location-specific conditions, but the Bureau has not 
used these data to enhance its training. Bureau officials stated that 
their training is effective and that their approach is necessary to 
ensure the consistency of training nationwide. However, the Bureau has 
not evaluated the effectiveness of its approach to training in 
comparison with alternate approaches, nor does its emphasis on 
consistency prepare staff for situations they are likely to face in the 
geographic areas in which they are working. 

We are making seven recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce to 
improve the Bureau's recruiting, hiring, and training processes. These 
recommendations are (1) refining its recruiting and hiring approach by 
collecting and analyzing information on the factors that explain worker 
success, such as worker characteristics and performance evaluations; 
(2) determining the best way to gather and use field staff performance 
data that could be collected during the address canvassing operations 
of the 2010 Census and that could be used to inform hiring decisions 
for subsequent operations; (3) modifying recruiting and hiring tools to 
better identify applicants with the skills needed to serve as crew 
leaders; (4) evaluating the effectiveness of alternate approaches to 
training, such as the use of video segments; (5) incorporating visual 
aids illustrating decennial concepts; (6) modifying or revising 
training content to enhance material on dealing with reluctant 
respondents; and (7) preparing training modules that reflect 
prototypical location-specific challenges. 

The Deputy Secretary of Commerce forwarded written comments from the 
Bureau on a draft of this report dated April 4, 2007. The comments are 
reprinted in their entirety in appendix I. Commerce generally either 
pointed to actions that it is taking that are consistent with the 
recommendations, or questioned the need for taking action. It agreed 
fully with one of our recommendations. We believe that additional 
refinements to its overall recruiting and hiring approach, such as 
collecting information to better target its efforts, could help the 
Bureau better identify the workers it needs for the 2010 Census. 
Further, we continue to believe that enhancements to the delivery and 
content of the Bureau's training, such as considering alternate 
approaches to delivering training--as has been previously recommended 
by us, OIG, and the Bureau itself--would better prepare staff to 
collect data in the field. We reflected Commerce's comments in the 
report and, where appropriate, provided additional context. 

Background: 

For the 2010 Census, the Bureau has reengineered its approach to 
collecting census data by developing three interlinked strategies, 
which it refers to as a "three-legged stool." 

* The American Community Survey will collect long-form from 250,000 
housing units each month and will provide such data on an annual basis, 
eliminating the need for a long-form as part of the decennial census. 

* The Map and Address File Modernization will update Bureau files with 
geographic coordinates to provide more accurate location data on the 
nation's households. 

* The 2010 Census will survey the nation for the upcoming decennial 
using a short-form-only census, enhanced by handheld computers and 
electronic maps for key operations to promote increased responsiveness 
and reduce costs. 

The Bureau estimates the 2010 Census to cost $11.3 billion, an increase 
from the $6.5 billion it took to carry out Census 2000. The Bureau 
believes that its reengineering will help contain the cost of the 2010 
Census. It expects to increase the response rate, thereby reducing the 
cost of nonresponse follow-up, through a short-form-only census. The 
use of handheld computers for nonresponse follow-up and address 
canvassing is also expected to yield cost savings. In the past, field 
staff collected data on housing units and nonresponding households 
using cumbersome pencil-and-paper processes. According to the Bureau, 
handheld computers will allow its field workers to more quickly collect 
information for each housing unit and reduce costly data collection 
activities. The handheld computers will also eliminate the need to 
visit households that return their questionnaires late because the 
cases can be deleted from the workload on a real-time basis. The Bureau 
has a testing and development program to hone these new methods for the 
2010 Census. It included field tests in Georgia and New York during its 
2004 Census Test, as well as field tests in Texas and South Dakota for 
the 2006 Census Test. The Bureau plans to hold the 2008 Dress Rehearsal 
in California and North Carolina, which is to be a demonstration of the 
operations and systems planned for the 2010 Census. The Bureau has 
already started to recruit and hire in the two dress rehearsal 
locations for the address canvassing operation, which is scheduled to 
begin in May 2007. 

Although the census is a national undertaking, it is locally 
implemented by a temporary workforce hired to complete work. To gather 
data from all households, the Bureau opens temporary offices across the 
country and employs several different data collection methods. Local 
census offices are opened for approximately 2 years and all field staff 
employed in these offices are considered temporary, with jobs as long 
as the entire 2-year period or as short as a few weeks. Some field 
staff work on several different operations during the decennial. For 
example, one could work on address canvassing, an early operation, and 
be rehired again to work on the nonresponse follow-up operation later 
on in the decennial. 

Operations for the 2010 Census will begin in April 2009, with address 
canvassing, a field operation for verifying and correcting addresses 
for all households and street features contained on decennial maps. 
Almost a year later, the Bureau will mail census questionnaires to the 
majority of the population in anticipation of Census Day, April 1, 
2010. Those households that do not respond will be contacted by field 
staff through the nonresponse follow-up operation to determine the 
number of people living in the house as of Census Day, among other 
information. In addition to address canvassing and nonresponse follow- 
up, the Bureau conducts other operations, for example, to gather data 
from residents of group quarters, such as prisons or military bases. 
The Bureau also employs different enumeration methods in certain 
settings, such as remote Alaska enumeration, when people living in 
inaccessible communities must be contacted in January 2010 in 
anticipation of the spring thaw, which makes travel difficult, or 
update/enumerate, a data collection method involving personal 
interviews and used in communities where many housing units may not 
have typical house number-street name mailing addresses. The Bureau has 
a quality control (or reinterview) process that involves rechecking a 
sample of completed work performed by an individual and rectifying that 
work if significant problems are detected. Approximately 5 to 10 
percent of the work is to be checked during the quality control 
process. 

Some positions in local census offices include: 

* field operations supervisors who coordinate, supervise, and oversee 
the work performed by crew leaders, crew leader assistants, and 
enumerators, as well as train assigned crew leaders; 

* crew leaders who supervise and train a crew of enumerators or listers 
and meet daily with the crew to distribute work assignments, monitor 
progress, and review finished work for accuracy and completeness; 

* crew leader assistants who help crew leaders in guiding and directing 
the work of a group of enumerators or listers engaged in field data 
collection; and: 

* enumerators or listers who perform field activities in and around 
their respective neighborhoods, including verifying addresses, 
canvassing and listing addresses, and interviewing. 

Conducting the census is a tremendous task given the hundreds of 
thousands of field staff[Footnote 8] the Bureau hires and trains in 
just a few weeks. (See fig. 1.) Further, field workers often have 
little or no prior census experience, and are expected, after just a 
few days of training, to do their jobs with minimal supervision, under 
sometimes difficult and dangerous conditions. Moreover, crew leaders 
are usually recent hires themselves, with little, if any, experience as 
instructors or with decennial issues. Overall, few, if any, 
organizations face the hiring and training challenges that confront the 
Bureau with each decennial population count. 

Figure 1: The Bureau's Planned Temporary Field Infrastructure for the 
2010 Census, Numbers at Peak: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 

[End of figure] 

The census is the nation's largest peace-time mobilization. For the 
2010 Census, the Bureau plans to recruit and test 3.8 million 
applicants and hire nearly 600,000 field staff for address canvassing 
and nonresponse follow-up. During Census 2000, the Bureau also hired 
about half a million enumerators at peak, which temporarily made it one 
of the nation's largest employers, surpassed by only a handful of big 
organizations, such as Wal-Mart and the U.S. Postal Service. For the 
2010 Census, the Bureau expects to hire almost 75,000 temporary workers 
during address canvassing to verify and identify the addresses of an 
estimated 130 million living quarters over the course of about 6 weeks 
in 2009. During nonresponse follow-up, the Bureau expects to hire 
almost 525,000 temporary workers to visit an estimated 39 million 
housing units over the course of 12 weeks in 2010. (See fig. 2.) 

Figure 2: The Bureau's Recruiting and Hiring Timeline for Temporary 
Field Staff during the 2010 Census: 

[See PDF for image] 

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

[End of figure] 

Each regional census center creates a recruiting plan based on a 
template developed by headquarters, which allows for variations to 
reflect characteristics of different regions. The Bureau has developed 
a Planning Database that local and regional offices use to prepare 
recruiting plans. The Bureau expects those offices to use the database 
to identify areas where field staff are more difficult to recruit and 
other areas where certain skills--such as foreign language abilities-- 
are needed. The Bureau will update the Planning Database for every 
census tract in the United States for the 2010 Census, using many 
variables from Census 2000. These variables include Census 2000 mail 
return rates; household size; median household income; percentage of 
persons living in poverty; number of single person households; highest 
level of education achieved; percentage of linguistically isolated 
households (i.e., where no person 14 or over speaks English at least 
"very well"); and percentage of persons on public assistance. 

The Bureau has employed essentially the same approach to training since 
the 1970 Census. To conduct training, the Bureau solicits free or low- 
cost training spaces from local organizations, such as churches or 
libraries. Training classes typically include 15 to 20 students. Crew 
leaders usually train their crews, with the help of at least one crew 
leader assistant, using a verbatim training approach, whereby crew 
leaders read training scripts word-for-word over the course of several 
days. Similarly, the crew leaders were themselves trained by their 
supervisors in a "train-the-trainers" approach. The length of training 
varies by operation; for nonresponse follow-up, training took almost 42 
hours over the course of 6 days during the 2006 test. 

The Bureau Should Revise the Recruiting and Hiring of Its Temporary 
Field Staff: 

For the 2010 Census, the Bureau plans to use a similar approach to 
recruit and hire workers as it used during Census 2000. Some broad 
approaches the Bureau will take in the 2010 Census that it successfully 
implemented during Census 2000 include: 

* exercising the flexibility to raise pay rates at local census offices 
that were encountering recruiting difficulties; 

* recruiting five times more applicants than the needed number of field 
workers to ensure a considerable depth in the applicant pool from which 
to hire; 

* "frontloading," or hiring twice the number of people needed to do the 
work in anticipation of high levels of turnover; 

* launching a recruitment advertising campaign, which cost over $2.3 
million for Census 2000; and: 

* working with federal, state, local, and tribal officials who manage 
existing government programs to obtain waivers that will expand the 
pool of applicants by making census jobs available and attractive to 
certain populations, such as allowing individuals to simultaneously 
work two federal jobs and obtaining exemptions from state governments 
so that individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, 
Medicaid, and selected other types of public assistance would not have 
their benefits reduced when earning census income. 

We have noted that these strategies, in part, made the Bureau a more 
attractive employer to prospective candidates and helped to ensure a 
steady stream of applicants during Census 2000, when the Bureau was 
able to recruit 3.7 million qualified applicants.[Footnote 9] In 
particular, the flexibility to raise pay rates at those local census 
offices that were encountering recruitment difficulties helped local 
offices obtain the staff they needed. Bureau officials found that being 
able to set competitive, locally-based pay was the Bureau's most 
important strategy during Census 2000.[Footnote 10] We have identified 
the recruitment advertising campaign as another key ingredient of 
Census 2000's recruitment efforts as it emphasizes the ability to earn 
good pay, work flexible hours, learn new skills, and do something 
important for one's community.[Footnote 11] This message was conveyed 
in a variety of languages through traditional outlets, such as 
newspapers, as well as more novel media, including Internet banners and 
messages on utility and credit card bills. The Bureau's recruiting and 
hiring approach allowed it to surpass its recruitment goals in Census 
2000 and officials believe it could be successfully used in the 2010 
Census as well. 

The Bureau Plans Improvements to Its Recruiting and Hiring: 

The Bureau is making changes to how it will recruit and hire its 
temporary workforce during the 2010 Census. While still employing 
frontloading, Bureau officials said they plan to exercise caution in 
this approach, in part because census funding could result in more 
limitations in 2010 than in 2000. According to Bureau documents, local 
offices may not necessarily invite twice the number of needed staff to 
training as they did in 2000; however, these final numbers have not yet 
been determined. According to Commerce in its response to a draft of 
this report, the Bureau is also preliminarily examining whether varying 
recruitment goals by area is a viable alternative to its current fixed 
goal. Using recruiting and hiring data from its 2004 and 2006 Census 
Tests, the Bureau plans to determine whether a variable recruiting goal 
for each local census office participating in the tests would have 
produced enough qualified applicants to complete the census workload. 

The Bureau has also conducted and incorporated information collected 
from employee debriefings that could improve its recruiting and hiring 
processes. During the 2006 Census Test, the Bureau collected 
information from employees to evaluate its operations, including the 
effectiveness of its recruiting and hiring processes, by (1) debriefing 
field staff at the end of each operation to gain a broader 
understanding of their thoughts on operations and procedures and (2) 
conducting exit interviews to understand why certain enumerators, crew 
leaders, and crew leader assistants left before field tests were 
completed. Bureau officials said that feedback from employees could be 
helpful in evaluating and refining its recruiting and hiring processes 
and intend to incorporate some of that information for the 2008 Dress 
Rehearsal. For example, the Bureau intends to include in its recruiting 
manuals the strategy of better utilizing the recruiting staff by 
establishing and assigning specific groups--like faith-based groups and 
community-based organizations--for recruiters to focus on, as was 
suggested to the Bureau during a debriefing. Bureau officials said that 
they plan to conduct these debriefings and exit interviews during the 
2008 Dress Rehearsal as well. Specifically, information from exit 
interviews will be used to gain additional insight into why employees 
leave before an operation was completed. Finally, officials also told 
us that a small amount of money was allocated to improve their 
recruiting efforts, for example, through conducting focus groups on 
diversity. 

Opportunities Exist for the Bureau to Refine Its Recruiting and Hiring 
Efforts: 

Opportunities exist for the Bureau to hone its recruiting efforts to 
identify individuals who would be more likely to be effective at census 
work and willing to continue working throughout an operation. 
Presently, the Bureau casts a wide net to recruit its temporary 
workforce to ensure it has a large enough applicant pool from which to 
hire. The Bureau selects field staff on the basis of how well they 
score on the standardized hiring test each applicant takes. The written 
test consists of basic cognitive skills required for the job, such as 
clerical skills, number skills, and organizational skills. Additional 
points are provided to applicants with veteran's preference. Applicants 
who score 70 or above on the written test[Footnote 12] and pass a 
Federal Bureau of Investigation background check are interviewed on the 
phone by office clerks. This interview assesses the extent to which the 
applicant can speak and understand English. Additionally, the 
applicant's availability, access to transportation and phone lines, 
willingness to travel from house to house to gather data, and other 
logistical questions of this nature are asked during the interview. 
Other than applicants achieving a passing score on its written test, 
however, the Bureau has not targeted its recruitment toward approaches 
that are likely to hire successful employees willing to complete a 
census operation. 

We understand that when recruiting and hiring for so many positions, it 
is a challenge to assess an applicant's potential success or 
willingness to work. However, Bureau officials have also stated that 
refining this approach could allow them to recruit more efficiently. To 
do so, the Bureau could evaluate the factors associated with and 
predictive of employee acceptance of census work, performance on the 
job, and commitment to completing census operations. The Bureau 
possesses much of the information needed to identify the factors that 
would characterize an employee who would be successful at census work 
and willing to work throughout an operation. 

* Through the employment application form, the Bureau collects 
information about how field staff learn about census work to understand 
the most effective ways to reach out to potential applicants. 

* Also through the application form, the Bureau collects information on 
the characteristics of every temporary employee, such as education 
level and language skills. 

* As previously described, the Bureau's Planning Database will be 
updated for every census tract in the nation for the 2010 Census, using 
such variables as Census 2000 mail return rates, household size, and 
percentage of linguistically isolated households, among others. The 
database might allow the Bureau to adjust its analysis of employee 
productivity across locations by holding constant factors that affect 
productivity in different areas. 

* Through its personnel database, the Bureau knows whether employees 
completed the operation they were hired for, which could provide 
information about commitment of field staff and willingness to work in 
the census. 

The Bureau could collect or extract other data to evaluate factors to 
help determine the likely success of an applicant. 

* The Bureau does not have data about the attrition rates of its field 
staff, which could provide information on what type of workers are more 
likely to commit to census employment and thereby would stay long 
enough to complete census operations. However, the Bureau already 
gathers personnel data during each of its tests, including dates of the 
hiring and termination of each applicant, and plans to collect them for 
the 2008 Dress Rehearsal and 2010 Census. Attrition data could be 
extracted from an analysis of those data. 

* The Bureau does not have a direct measure of an employee's 
effectiveness. However, the Bureau could begin collecting such 
information as early as the 2008 Dress Rehearsal. Further, the Bureau 
also could compile information about individual performance using data 
collected from its quality control operation.[Footnote 13] The Bureau 
does collect productivity data, which indicate the number of housing 
units for which a field worker successfully collected data from each 
hour, and could be an indicator of employee performance.[Footnote 14] 
However, Bureau officials said this information does not adequately 
reflect worker performance because the situations in which workers do 
their jobs vary considerably. Nevertheless, information from the 
Planning Database may allow the Bureau to adjust these data for 
differences in employee productivity between locations. With this 
adjustment, productivity data might better inform the Bureau about 
employee performance after controlling for location-specific 
differences. 

* The Bureau does not have information about other characteristics of 
field staff, such as employment status and history. However, these data 
can be collected on the application form workers complete when they 
apply for census work, as well as before the employees leave the 
Bureau's employment. 

Analysis of these data would allow the Bureau to refine its recruiting 
and hiring strategy. Multiple regression or other statistical methods 
can be employed to analyze these data to determine likely predictors 
for successful field staff. Although local and regional factors can 
affect how successful a worker will be, such as working in urban or 
rural settings and unemployment rates, information from the Planning 
Database and other such data may be useful in controlling for these 
variations. In addition, analyses can be conducted at the regional or 
local level to further tailor recruiting and hiring. There are several 
ways that the Bureau can define a successful worker. Productivity data 
and attrition rates can be used to measure employee success. But there 
may be better measures of performance that could be identified by using 
information collected in the quality control operation. However, 
without conducting such analysis, the Bureau does not know what types 
of workers are more likely to be successful at census work. 

The Bureau noted that it has done or plans some analyses of worker 
effectiveness and turnover. For example, during the 2006 Census Test, a 
contractor examined the Bureau's selection tools to see which employee 
attributes are most highly associated with success, tenure, and 
performance. However, the Bureau could not produce the results of the 
contractor study at the time of this report. The Bureau also plans to 
identify factors that might affect turnover and job tenure from its 
employee debriefings and exit surveys. 

Officials provided various reasons for why the Bureau's recruiting and 
hiring processes remain substantially unchanged. First, they said the 
Bureau focused on achieving cost containment through the reengineering 
of the census, including a short-form census and use of handheld 
computers, which left few funds to make improvements in other areas, 
such as recruiting and hiring. Second, in commenting on a draft of this 
report, Commerce noted that it does not believe that significant cost 
savings could be achieved through refining its recruiting and hiring 
approach. Third, Bureau officials said that the recruiting and hiring 
during Census 2000 was a success and the same approach will be 
effective during the 2010 Census. Lastly, Commerce noted in its 
comments that making any changes to the Bureau's current approach would 
reduce its ability to find the people needed to complete operations 
within the statutory deadlines. We agree that the Bureau needs to 
recruit and hire staff in time to meet these deadlines; however, Bureau 
officials told us that they have not invested resources into making 
recruiting and hiring more effective. 

Regarding evaluating factors that would allow the Bureau to target 
potential applicants and hence improve recruiting practices, Bureau 
officials said that doing this could prevent the Bureau from forming 
community-based census crews that, in their view, are more likely to be 
familiar with the local environment, build trust with nonrespondents, 
and hence elicit their participation in the census more easily than 
would other field staff. However, the Bureau has not conducted analyses 
to indicate that targeting recruitment would preclude it from hiring 
community-based field staff. 

Moreover, according to Bureau officials, having a large applicant pool 
provides the Bureau with assurance that it can meet its recruiting 
goals; however, they agree that this approach may not be the most cost- 
effective. Specifically, in an evaluation of the Census 2000 recruiting 
effort, a contractor found that the goal of creating an applicant pool 
of five individuals for each needed field staff position was more than 
adequate for staffing the nonresponse follow-up operation.[Footnote 15] 
The contractor suggested that the Bureau develop methods to recruit for 
the 2010 Census without the resulting applicant pool exceeding the 
number it plans to hire by such large amounts. Nevertheless, the Bureau 
does not plan to modify this approach and will continue to recruit five 
times as many individuals as it plans to hire. Officials told us that 
as a result of the Bureau's inability to hire enough field staff during 
the 1990 Census--which delayed the address canvassing operation--the 
Bureau would rather overrecruit than underrecruit. The statistical 
analysis discussed above would be one method the Bureau could use to 
target its recruiting, thereby potentially decreasing both the size of 
the applicant pool and the number of persons who would need to be 
hired. 

A more targeted approach to recruiting and hiring for the 2010 Census 
could allow the Bureau to recruit and hire staff with the necessary 
skills and interests for census work, and identify applicants who would 
be more likely to commit to completing an operation and be successful 
throughout census operations. Having these workers could help reduce or 
better control operational costs as well as recruiting and hiring 
expenditures. Better performing workers could complete fieldwork more 
expediently, thereby potentially decreasing the time needed to complete 
operations. During Census 2000, the recruiting expenditures for fiscal 
years 1998 through 2000 were estimated to be $250 million, about $66 
per applicant. Efforts to target applicants likely to continue 
throughout an operation could decrease the need to recruit and hire 
additional workers. Improving recruiting and hiring could also reduce 
training costs to replace staff who have quit, which add to the 
Bureau's training expenses. For example, during the 2006 test, the 
Bureau paid each enumerator in Texas $605 to participate in 1 week of 
training. 

The Bureau May Modify Some Tools and Processes to Hire Staff with the 
Right Skills, but Should Also Differentiate Those Tools for Various 
Field Positions: 

The Bureau uses the same set of hiring tools--written tests and phone 
interviews administered to each qualified applicant--to hire 
individuals for crew leader and other field positions, although the 
skills needed for those positions differ. The Bureau hired a contractor 
to assess whether the tools used during the 2006 Census Test selected 
individuals with the skills necessary to conduct fieldwork using 
handheld computers. According to comments provided by Commerce, this 
contractor plans to conduct a comprehensive study to review the 
validity and reliability of new selection tools during the 2008 Dress 
Rehearsal to assess whether they appropriately address the new skills 
needed in the reengineered census environment. While updated hiring 
tools may be implemented during the 2010 Census, Bureau officials said 
that, overall, they do not expect major changes to be made. Changes 
made to the hiring process will be to account for the automation of 
field data collection, and not to differentiate hiring tools for crew 
leaders and other field positions. 

In 1997, OPM found that the competencies needed by a crew leader were 
different from those required in other field positions.[Footnote 16] 
For example, while it was important for field staff working in the 
nonresponse follow-up operation to have arithmetic and visual 
identification skills, crew leaders need skills such as management, 
leadership, and creative thinking (see table 1). Bureau officials 
stated that crew leaders are also responsible for providing on-the-job 
training where necessary and will accompany workers who are facing 
problems. Further, with the reengineering of the 2010 Census, crew 
leaders are responsible for troubleshooting the handheld computers that 
other field staff use to collect census data. 

Table 1: Results of OPM's 1997 Evaluation of Competencies Needed for 
Different Field Staff: 

Competencies rated as important for crew leaders and not enumerators: 
Creative thinking; Manages and organizes information; Leadership; 
Teaching others; Managing human resources; Managing diverse workforce; 
Geography; 
Competencies rated as important for enumerators and not crew leaders: 
Number manipulation; Arithmetic; Perceptual speed; Visual 
identification; Foreign language. 

Source: GAO analysis of OPM data. 

[End of table] 

Applicants interested in census fieldwork take one of two hiring tests, 
a supervisory or nonsupervisory one. Individuals who wish to be 
considered for field operations supervisor or office operations 
supervisor take the supervisory test. Those people interested in all 
other positions, including crew leaders, enumerators, and clerks, take 
the nonsupervisory test. Individuals that score highest on this test 
are supposed to be selected as crew leaders. A selection guide for crew 
leaders is used to conduct phone interviews with qualified applicants, 
but the two sets of additional questions asked of individuals applying 
for the crew leader position do not assess the specific skills needed 
of crew leaders. During their phone interviews, crew leader applicants 
are asked to broadly describe the nature and scope of their leadership 
responsibilities, including organizing materials, scheduling 
activities, and leading others. 

OPM also examined whether the Bureau's hiring tools adequately 
identified individuals with the abilities needed for those positions 
during Census 2000. It found that the hiring tools adequately assessed 
the cognitive competencies of field staff but were limited in assessing 
interpersonal competencies. OPM validated the hiring tools for use in 
Census 2000 but suggested that the Bureau incorporate interpersonal 
assessments into the hiring tools. 

We reviewed the Bureau's hiring tools during the 2006 test and found 
that they do not differentiate between crew leaders and other field 
positions. Bureau officials said they do not expect to revise these 
tools for the 2010 Census because the selection guide used during phone 
interviews has two sets of questions for the crew leaders. However, 
these two sets of questions do not specifically ask whether applicants 
have experience in providing training or using computers. One set of 
questions asked candidates if they were familiar with the area in which 
they live and the second set of questions asked about their leadership 
experiences and willingness to lead others. Officials told us that the 
selection tools the Bureau plans to use in the 2010 Census will be 
largely unchanged from those used in Census 2000 and the 2004 and 2006 
tests. That is, the Bureau does not plan to hone its tools to target 
the skills needed by crew leaders, a key position for decennial field 
activities. 

During the 2004 Census Test, the OIG reported that Bureau officials 
said the multiple-choice test does not capture the technical or 
supervisory skills needed by crew leaders. Several field operations 
supervisors also commented that enumerators in training were more 
managerially and technically competent to be crew leaders than the crew 
leaders who were training them.[Footnote 17] Furthermore, during 
debriefings conducted with field staff (including field operations 
supervisors, crew leaders, and enumerators) during the 2006 test, 
participants commented about the ability of crew leaders to carry out 
their duties.[Footnote 18] There were a few comments that were 
positive, such as one that noted that crew leaders were able to resolve 
their problems about census procedures immediately. However, most other 
comments regarding crew leaders remarked upon the need for them to be 
better skilled or prepared. The following observations were made about 
individuals in the crew leader position: 

* they did not have the skills necessary to perform the duties required 
in that position, 

* they did not feel comfortable providing training to enumerators and 
asked their assistants to deliver the training, 

* they did not have the appropriate leadership skills, and: 

* they should not be hired based on their test scores but based on 
whether they possess specific skills needed for that position. 

Without using hiring tools that distinguish between skills needed for 
the crew leader position, the Bureau does not have assurances that it 
is selecting crew leaders who can best perform duties like providing 
training, managing other field staff, and troubleshooting handheld 
computers. In commenting on a draft of this report, Commerce noted that 
a contractor hired by the Bureau is examining whether there is a need 
to replace the current written tests and interview selection guides 
used for hiring all field positions, including crew leaders. Depending 
upon the contractor's finding, the Bureau may modify these selection 
tools. Nevertheless, the Bureau still does not collect information 
about the performance of individual crew leaders nor does it collect 
information on turnover of crew leaders. Without this information, the 
Bureau is limited in its ability to assess the effectiveness of its 
hiring tools in selecting able crew leaders for the 2010 Census. 

The Bureau Gives Little Consideration to Previous Performance When 
Rehiring Former Workers: 

When hiring, Bureau policies recommend that former employees are 
rehired first before selecting individuals without prior census 
experience. Over the course of the 2006 Census Test, almost 15 percent 
of all field staff were rehired. In other words, these individuals left 
their field position--due to the end of an operation or for other 
reasons--but then were rehired for a subsequent operation of the 2006 
test. However, the Bureau does not fully consider past performance. 
When rehiring field staff, the Bureau does not use certain information 
that could help assess an applicant's competence, nor does the Bureau 
prepare employee performance evaluations that could be used later when 
considering rehiring former employees. Bureau officials say they try 
not to rehire those individuals who were terminated for cause. In 
comments on a draft of this report, Commerce noted that OPM has 
exempted most of the Bureau's statutory field staff from its 
requirement that all federal employees undergo a performance 
evaluation. 

The Bureau rehires former employees using the same procedures it uses 
to hire those with no prior census experience. Office clerks conduct 
telephone interviews of former employees using the same hiring scripts 
used to assess all other applicants. Individuals who could comment on 
the performance of an individual, such as crew leaders, field office 
supervisors, or local office managers, are not consulted during the 
rehiring process. Bureau officials said that they try to exclude 
rehiring former employees who were terminated for cause. The actions 
that would result in a worker being terminated for cause are severe 
conduct or performance problems--such as striking another person or 
selling alcohol or drugs on Bureau premises. 

Commerce also stated that the Bureau's Decennial Applicant Personnel 
and Payroll System contains termination data about each applicant--such 
as whether a worker left an operation due to cause, resignation, or 
lack of work--and have controls that do not allow employees who were 
terminated for cause to be rehired. However, officials we interviewed 
during the 2006 Census Test told us that not all employees with conduct 
problems or who performed poorly were terminated. Further, the OIG 
found that during Census 2000, managers were reluctant to terminate 
poor-performing workers, but instead would refrain from assigning them 
new work. Some of these managers were concerned that separated 
employees would be unable to find new jobs; others were put off by the 
amount of time and paperwork involved in terminating workers. In 
addition to collecting termination data, the Bureau also collects 
productivity data on field workers. According to officials, the Bureau 
does not use this information when rehiring former employees, because 
productivity data do not adequately describe the performance of a 
temporary worker, as the situations in which workers do their jobs vary 
considerably. 

Despite the limitations of using productivity data discussed above, the 
Bureau does not collect other data that could allow it to quickly 
evaluate the prior performance of applicants reapplying for census 
work, such as individual performance evaluations that could be prepared 
at the completion of employment. Bureau officials said that the 
policies for rehiring former employees should be sufficient to hire and 
maintain a competent workforce because the process worked during Census 
2000. Furthermore, they said that the pace of the decennial, 
particularly the nonresponse follow-up operation, is such that local 
census officials have insufficient time to consider past performance in 
making hiring decisions. Bureau officials do not prepare performance 
evaluations of employees because field operations supervisors do not 
have the time to conduct this assessment and crew leaders do not have 
the training needed to provide a relatively objective assessment of 
field staff. 

Although officials believe they lack sufficient time to consider past 
performance when rehiring, we believe that the Bureau does have enough 
time. For example, performance data could be collected during the 
address canvassing operation to be used to assess previous workers for 
the nonresponse follow-up operation, which occurs nearly a year later. 
Moreover, during the 2006 Census Test, information from supervisors on 
the performance of their workers was readily available, as crew leaders 
we spoke with were able to identify the relative strengths of their 
crew members; however, that information is neither collected nor used. 
Bureau officials believed that such information is inherently 
subjective. Nonetheless, the Bureau appears to recognize the value of 
collecting such information. Specifically, the contractor validating 
the hiring tests intends to collect similar information during the 2008 
Dress Rehearsal by asking supervisors, "Would you be willing to rehire 
this individual for the next operation?" Collecting and using responses 
to a question as simple as this could inform the Bureau about the 
performance of former employees and help ensure that rehired workers 
are competent. 

If 15 percent of the field staff were to be rehired during the 2010 
Census, as was the case during the 2006 Census Test, the Bureau would 
not have performance data to meaningfully evaluate whether to rehire 
approximately 90,000 individuals. Without preparing employee 
performance information, the Bureau cannot ensure that the weakest 
performers are not rehired. 

The Bureau Has Not Changed Training Delivery or Content for Temporary 
Field Staff to Fully Address Known Challenges: 

The Bureau is providing some computer-based training on using the 
handheld computers in key operations. However, overall, the Bureau has 
made limited changes to the approach it uses to deliver training and 
has not evaluated alternate approaches to providing training. In 
addition to having trainers read a script verbatim, nonresponse follow- 
up training in 2006 included (1) scripted role play exercises, where 
trainers and trainees read from prepared materials; (2) a few hours of 
practice in the field with actual housing units and residents, although 
not all field staff we spoke with had this opportunity; (3) 
opportunities for enumerators to answer scripted questions from the 
crew leader, though instructions for trainers discouraged class 
discussion because such discussions would disrupt the training 
schedule; and (4) limited use of visual aids, created by crew leaders 
rather than the Bureau or local census office staff. Although in 
commenting on a draft of our report, Commerce stated its commitment to 
continuously improving training through the incorporation of trainee 
self-assessment and practice questions, role-playing, and focusing on 
practical applications it has largely retained its verbatim approach. 
Bureau officials stated this was to preserve the consistency of the 
training it delivers nationwide. Additionally, officials stated that a 
verbatim approach is necessary because crew leaders, who usually 
provide their crews' training, may have been employed only a few weeks 
and have no practical decennial experience in the field. Commerce also 
pointed to the challenge of holding 40,000 training sessions 
simultaneously. 

Many field staff we spoke with during the 2006 test said their overall 
impression of training was generally positive. Nonetheless, many said 
that videos or visuals would or might improve training. Further, 
according to Bureau summaries of debriefings it conducted, field staff 
indicated that the verbatim training was slow-paced and redundant; they 
said training would have been improved by videos or other 
media.[Footnote 19] These comments are bolstered by observations during 
the 2004 and 2006 tests, which showed that field staff may have missed 
important parts of training. When Harris--the contractor developing the 
handheld computers--observed training during the 2006 test, it saw 
students playing games on their handheld computers during 
training.[Footnote 20] Moreover, in 2004, OIG observers found students 
not paying attention and even falling asleep during class and concluded 
that some enumerators may have failed to learn how to conduct census 
operations.[Footnote 21] The OIG attributed some enumerator 
deficiencies to the Bureau's verbatim training method, as enumerators 
they spoke with said training was slow and uninteresting and that 
lapses in their concentration occurred. 

The Bureau and others, including us, have reported that the Bureau 
should consider alternate approaches to training delivery. Our review 
of the 2004 Census Test found that, as a result of the demographic and 
technological changes that have taken place since 1970, the Bureau 
might want to explore alternatives to its verbatim approach to 
training.[Footnote 22] Moreover, in 2004, the OIG suggested the Bureau 
explore the use of interactive training methods, as the Bureau does for 
other nondecennial surveys.[Footnote 23] Specifically, the OIG noted 
that the Bureau should consider using multimedia or computer-based 
training. The Bureau has also conducted, or contracted for, several 
evaluations of its nonresponse follow-up training, though none of these 
evaluations assessed whether alternate delivery approaches would 
improve training. Bureau officials claim the training they provide is 
effective so evaluations comparing alternate approaches are not 
necessary. Officials indicated that the primary criterion they used to 
judge the effectiveness of training was whether operations were 
completed on time. However, timeliness does not take into account the 
quality of data collected by these field staff and therefore is not an 
appropriate measure of training effectiveness. In an evaluation of 
training for nonresponse follow-up in Census 2000, for example, the 
Bureau found that field staff struggled to read questions as worded, 
show flashcards to respondents, and consistently ask questions about 
Hispanic origin and race. 

Our guide for strategic training recommends that agencies compare 
various training approaches by weighing their estimated costs and 
anticipated benefits,[Footnote 24] but Bureau officials said they did 
not explore alternate approaches because they could not think of any 
feasible improvements. In particular, Bureau officials explained that 
audiovisual equipment was not always available at training sites, so 
video segments could not be scheduled during training. Further, they 
said wealthy areas are more likely to have greater access to video 
equipment, which may lead to better-prepared field staff in those 
neighborhoods. However, the Bureau has not collected data to show that 
video equipment was unavailable at training locations during Census 
2000 or either of the tests conducted in 2004 and 2006. In fact, for 
some training sites in the reengineered environment, the Bureau has 
increased requirements such as having sufficient electrical outlets to 
power trainees' handheld computers and a dedicated phone line for 
transmitting census and payroll data. As a result of having to meet 
increased Bureau requirements, training sites may be more likely to 
have audiovisual technology. 

Commerce's comments also cited concerns about the cost of buying or 
renting audiovisual equipment. However, several options exist that 
could allow video content to be used more broadly without renting or 
purchasing new technology. Further, evaluations could show that video 
segments are more efficient than verbatim training, thus reducing the 
time needed for training and mitigating the cost of audiovisual 
equipment. One option the Bureau could pursue is providing video 
content to its field staff to watch during their self-study as homework 
assignments. In an OIG report on the 2004 Census Test, Bureau officials 
agreed that distributing videos as a homework assignment might be 
beneficial and feasible, as a large number of homes now have VCRs or 
DVD players, but did not distribute this type of content in the 2006 
test. Alternatively, given increased Internet access, Web-based 
material may be a practical way to present video content. If only a few 
training sites lack access to audiovisual technology, crews could be 
invited into the local census office to view video segments. If more 
training sites lack such technology or the local census office is 
located a great distance from the training site, field operations 
supervisors, who we observed visiting each of their crews every day 
during training, could show video segments on their laptops. However, 
the Bureau has not evaluated whether any or all of these options would 
be feasible. Officials explained that they could not know the extent to 
which technology is available prior to opening local census offices, 
but this information could be compiled during early operations for use 
during nonresponse follow-up training, which occurs more than a year 
after the local census offices open. 

Regardless of whether the Bureau considers alternate approaches to 
training, training could be enhanced by the addition of visual aids to 
illustrate census concepts. In fact, the Bureau has shown support for 
using visual aids during training, as it will incorporate visual aids 
developed by Harris that will help illustrate how to use the handheld 
computers (see fig. 3). 

Figure 3: Visual Created by Harris for Use in Training: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: The Harris Corporation. 

[End of figure] 

A Bureau evaluation of nonresponse follow-up training in Census 2000 
recommended creating additional media, such as flip charts or posters, 
for use in training.[Footnote 25] The OIG found that some trainees had 
trouble following the verbatim instructions and might have benefited 
from the use of visual aids.[Footnote 26] Finally, an external 
contractor that reviewed the Bureau's training in 2004 recommended that 
the Bureau develop visual aids for use during training.[Footnote 27] 
During our observations of the 2006 test, we also noted instances where 
visual aids might enhance training. For example, field staff had 
difficulty distinguishing between vacant and occupied housing units in 
rural South Dakota. Training materials suggested field staff speak with 
a knowledgeable person and observe some visual cues, such as uncut 
grass or boarded-up windows. In that regard, a series of pictures 
illustrating such features might enhance the ability of field staff to 
make judgments about vacant houses consistently. 

Bureau's Training Content Largely Unchanged Despite Recommendations 
Calling for Change: 

The content of the Bureau's training for field staff has not changed 
substantially since Census 2000, despite the fact that collecting data 
from the nation's population has become increasingly complex, as people 
become more reluctant to participate in the census and the nation has 
continued to become more diverse. According to Bureau officials, the 
Bureau is finding it increasingly difficult to locate people and get 
them to participate in the census. Field workers we spoke with during 
the 2006 test noted two related issues on which they had not received 
sufficient training--dealing with reluctant respondents and handling 
location-specific challenges. 

Field staff may not be sufficiently prepared to encourage reluctant 
respondents to participate in the census. In 2004, the OIG found that 
field staff complained they felt unprepared to deal with reluctant 
respondents and the report recommended the Bureau consider adding 
content to enhance training on this topic.[Footnote 28] In 2006, the 
Bureau included one role-play example of a reluctant respondent in 
nonresponse follow-up training in Texas, but none in update/enumerate-
-the comparable operation conducted at the more rural South Dakota test 
site. Despite this improvement, dealing with these reluctant 
respondents continued to be a problem for field staff in 2006. For 
example, an enumerator in Texas told us that the Bureau should more 
directly explain that most respondents are likely to be reluctant. She 
said she was surprised by how many reluctant respondents she 
encountered. During the debriefing discussions the Bureau held with 
field staff, many participants indicated that respondent reluctance was 
challenging.[Footnote 29] When asked, enumerators at the debriefings 
said respondent refusals were something they were least prepared to 
handle after training. Crew leaders echoed this sentiment when asked 
about it during the debriefing, saying that overcoming respondent 
reluctance was the most difficult task enumerators faced. 

The nonresponse follow-up training provided in 2006 has more material 
on how to deal with reluctant respondents than did the Census 2000 
nonresponse follow-up training. However, much of the new material 
concerns how enumerators enter data on the handheld computers and not 
about training field staff on how to best elicit cooperation. A 
relatively small portion of training time is dedicated to working with 
reluctant respondents and this section begins "most of the people you 
have to interview will cooperate." Officials explained to us that 
households in nonresponse follow-up have already chosen not to 
participate--by not mailing in their surveys--and therefore may be more 
likely to be reluctant to respond when field staff visit their homes. 
Finally, as the OIG noted in 2004, training materials generally advised 
field staff to be prepared to explain why the census was necessary and 
how data would be used, but offered no special guidance for convincing 
respondents to cooperate.[Footnote 30] This kind of guidance was also 
not contained in training materials for the 2006 test. 

Although data are available to help the Bureau refine its material on 
reluctant respondents, the Bureau is not making use of this resource. 
The Bureau's Planning Database, used mainly for recruiting purposes and 
enumeration planning, highlights areas where the Bureau believes it 
would be hard to enumerate, such as where many migrant workers reside 
or where there is a large number of public assistance households. Those 
conditions could be used to assess whether the responsiveness of 
households to respond to the census over time indicates a need to 
increase training on handling reluctant respondents. For example, 
reasons for respondent reluctance could vary based on whether the 
population of migrant workers or people living in public assistance 
housing has increased. The necessary changes to training should vary 
based on how the population has changed. Bureau officials said that 
they had not used the database to inform changes made to training. 

The increasing reluctance of the nation to participate in the census 
makes it important for field staff to be trained in the skills needed 
to complete census work accurately and effectively. We also saw a 
notice created by an enumerator that informed residents they needed to 
provide census data or federal marshals would come to arrest them, 
which local officials told us will not happen. Without adequate 
preparation, field staff may develop their own strategies when 
confronted with these difficult situations, resulting in inconsistent 
and sometimes inappropriate data collection methods. For example, when 
unable to contact respondents, one Texas enumerator we observed looked 
up respondent information online, tried to find a phone number for 
another respondent from a neighborhood cat's collar, and even illegally 
went through residents' mail. Another enumerator told us she sat in 
front of housing units for hours waiting for residents to come home 
from work. Bureau procedures as outlined in training indicate that 
field staff should make six attempts to contact residents, either in 
person or by phone, before seeking another knowledgeable person from 
which to obtain data. 

Another issue on which field staff said they needed additional training 
was with challenges that were specific to their local areas. In South 
Dakota, for example, an enumerator told us that Abbotsville, Oklahoma-
-the hypothetical city the Bureau used for role playing and other 
exercises in the training class--did not reflect the rural conditions 
of the Cheyenne River Reservation.[Footnote 31] This sentiment was also 
mentioned in the Bureau's debriefing following the operation.[Footnote 
32] Field staff participating in these meetings also commented on the 
challenges related to enumerating empty mobile home sites and working 
under dangerous rural road conditions. In Austin, Texas, on the other 
hand, one crew leader explained that training spent a lot of time on 
mobile homes--which did not exist in his area--but very little time on 
apartment buildings, which are common there. Other field staff 
mentioned problems collecting data from the large college student 
population in Austin--which had already vacated their Census Day 
residences for summer vacation by the start of nonresponse follow-up. 
In debriefings from the nonresponse follow-up operation in Texas, field 
staff also mentioned a need for additional information on obtaining 
data in apartment buildings and dealing with large families. 

To address these kinds of location-specific challenges, the Bureau 
works with regional offices to develop 10-minute training modules for 
specific locations. For example, in 2000, Bureau officials said 
enumerators in Los Angeles were trained to look for small, hidden 
housing units, such as apartments in converted garages. Commerce's 
comments on a draft of this report stated that the Bureau also provides 
guidance on how long these modules should be and at what point they 
should be presented. However, officials told us they were not sure how 
often this kind of training took place, nor had they allocated time 
during training to present specialized information. On the basis of 
observations of the 2004 test, we suggested that the Bureau supplement 
the existing training with modules geared toward addressing the 
particular enumeration challenges that field staff are likely to 
encounter in specific locales.[Footnote 33] The National Academy of 
Sciences also recommended in 2004 that the Bureau develop special 
enumeration methods for locations that might face unique challenges, 
such as irregular urban areas, gated communities, rural areas, and 
colonias--unincorporated and low-income residential subdivisions 
lacking basic infrastructure and services along the border between the 
United States and Mexico.[Footnote 34] 

The Planning Database may be helpful in determining whether modules 
focused on particular enumeration challenges may be needed, in that it 
includes detailed information on small geographic areas. For example, 
the database contains information on the prevalence of difficult 
terrain, student populations, and trailer parks, among other variables. 
However, the Bureau has not used information from the Planning Database 
to determine where a local census office may need to use location- 
specific training modules nor taken any steps to develop this type of 
module centrally to ensure the consistency of content. 

Bureau officials offered several explanations as to why they have made 
limited changes to enhance training on reluctant respondents and 
location-specific challenges. They said the Bureau lacks the time and 
budget to make systematic changes to its training, and they believe 
that the content of training is already effective. They also said that 
the Bureau has made changes to training "iteratively" over time, citing 
increases to the content on reluctant respondents since Census 2000. 
Officials noted that while fieldwork in various locations can be 
different, a consistent nationwide approach is necessary and that local 
differences were handled by the 10-minute modules that could be created 
by regional offices. Further, officials explained that creating 
location-specific modules centrally would be time-consuming and 
expensive. Finally, officials were opposed to including any additional 
material on dealing with reluctant respondents because longer training 
is costly. However, as field staff told us, the training contains 
material on issues they did not face in their local areas. For example, 
as we stated earlier in this section, much time was spent on training 
on mobile homes in Austin, Texas, although they are not prevalent in 
the area. The inclusion of this material in a standard nationwide 
training reduces the time available for other issues, such as 
strategies for addressing reluctant respondents. 

Developing modules for different types of locations centrally, while 
potentially costly, would allow the Bureau to control the consistency 
and quality of training throughout the nation and therefore control the 
cost of local operations. For example, headquarters staff could 
centrally develop modules covering enumeration strategies in a variety 
of situations, such as mobile homes, large apartment buildings, and 
migrant worker dwellings, which local officials can selectively insert 
into their training if there is a need to train their field staff on 
that topic. In Census 2000, the Bureau did not know where location- 
specific modules created by regional offices were used, nor the quality 
of instruction provided in those modules. For example, to collect data 
from colonias in 2000, the Denver Regional Office provided field staff 
information about the layout of the colonias, while the Dallas Regional 
Office decided to use a different enumeration method for these housing 
units. Targeting training to address those issues field staff are 
likely to face could also save time during training by deleting topics 
that are not needed by field staff. Moreover, targeted training could 
enhance the effectiveness of trainers and field staff by giving greater 
attention to the challenges they do face. 

Conclusions: 

For the 2010 Census, the Bureau faces difficulties in enumerating a 
changing society, whereby the population is increasingly diverse and 
hard to locate. The Bureau has responded to challenges with a 
reengineered approach that relies to a much greater extent on new 
technologies, such as handheld computers. In addition, it is important 
that the Bureau evaluate and improve how it recruits and hires 
temporary field workers and trains them on the skills needed to 
successfully complete the 2010 Census. 

The Bureau's overall approach to recruiting and hiring is focused on 
ensuring that it recruits and hires a sufficient number of field staff. 
However, a more targeted and considered approach would help the Bureau 
to more effectively identify the workers it needs. Conducting an 
analysis of the characteristics of applicants likely to become 
effective census workers or analyzing information about field staff 
turnover could allow the Bureau to recruit and hire staff more likely 
to be successful throughout census operations and thereby reduce or 
better control operational costs, as well as recruiting and hiring 
expenditures. The Bureau is making efforts to revise its tools to 
better identify staff with the necessary skills in light of the new 
automated environment. However, its hiring tools have not adequately 
differentiated between crew leaders and their field staff. During the 
reengineered 2010 Census, crew leaders will be responsible for training 
and supervising field staff as well as troubleshooting the handheld 
computers used to collect data in the field. By using the same hiring 
tools for positions that need different skills, the Bureau cannot 
ensure that crew leaders have the skills needed to fulfill the 
requirements of those key positions. Finally, the Bureau does not 
prepare employee performance evaluations that can be used to make 
informed decisions when rehiring former employees, who may be given 
preference during hiring for later operations. Such performance 
information may also be useful in assessing the characteristics of 
applicants likely to be successful at census work. 

The Bureau has decades of experience in training field workers, but we 
and others made recommendations following Census 2000 and subsequent 
field tests that could improve the delivery and content of training. 
The Bureau has not evaluated alternate approaches to training like 
using video content, nor has the Bureau evaluated the feasibility of 
such alternatives. Without these evaluations, Bureau decision makers 
lack information they need to determine the best way to deliver 
training. Moreover, while the Bureau will be incorporating visual aids 
on how to use the handheld computers, it has not developed other visual 
aids that could improve the ability of field staff to conduct census 
operations. 

With respect to the content of training, some field staff said they 
need more training on how to deal with reluctant respondents. Bureau 
officials said that this content has increased since Census 2000, but 
we found that field staff still lacked a clear idea of how likely they 
were to encounter reluctance and also needed strategies to convince 
such respondents to cooperate. Likewise, although the Bureau permits 
regional or local offices to provide a very small amount of training 
specific to their areas, it has not centrally developed modules on 
topics field staff are likely to face in certain areas--such as 
apartment buildings and mobile homes--for those offices to incorporate 
into their standard training. These modules could improve the training 
on these situations and increase the consistency of training content. 
Without evaluating the way training is delivered, developing visual 
aids to enhance training, and making appropriate modifications to 
improve content on reluctant respondents and location-specific 
situations, the Bureau's temporary field staff may be less than fully 
prepared to do their work. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

We recommend that the Secretary of Commerce direct the Director of the 
U.S. Census Bureau to take the following seven actions to improve the 
Bureau's recruiting, hiring, and training of temporary field staff. The 
Bureau should: 

* To refine its approach to recruiting and hiring, evaluate the factors 
that are associated with and predictive of employee interest in census 
work, performance, and commitment. These factors may include prior work 
experience and employment status. The Bureau should determine the best 
way to measure employee performance for the purposes of this analysis. 
The Bureau should also consider these findings for better targeting 
applicants in subsequent decennial operations. This effort could be 
conducted during address canvassing and other early operations during 
the 2008 Dress Rehearsal and during the 2010 Census. The resulting 
information will be useful when recruiting and hiring for the Bureau's 
largest decennial operation, nonresponse follow-up, and subsequent 
operations. 

* Determine the best way to gather employee performance data during the 
address canvassing operation in the 2010 Census to inform rehiring 
decisions during subsequent operations. 

* Modify recruiting and hiring tools, including the skills test and 
phone interview, to better differentiate applicants with the skills and 
competencies needed by crew leaders from those who would be better 
suited for other field positions. 

* Evaluate the effectiveness of alternate approaches for delivering 
training, including the use of video content, as compared to the 
current verbatim approach. If new approaches are found to be more 
effective, evaluate the feasibility of delivering this type of training 
during subsequent operations. 

* Prior to the 2010 Census, incorporate into training visual aids 
illustrating how to conduct census work. 

* Revise or modify training to enhance material on reluctant 
respondents so that field staff are provided with a realistic 
impression of the prevalence of respondent reluctance and strategies 
for convincing these respondents to participate. 

* Prepare training modules addressing prototypical location-specific 
challenges that may be selected and used by regional or local census 
offices. For example, modules on situations localities may face--such 
as enumerating apartment buildings or dealing with empty mobile home 
sites--could be centrally developed by Bureau officials to ensure the 
consistency and quality of such modules. Local or regional officials 
could then select those modules most appropriate to the local area for 
use in training. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

We provided a draft of this report to the Secretary of Commerce for his 
review and comment. We received comments from Commerce's Deputy 
Secretary. Overall, Commerce agreed with the importance of the key 
human capital principles reflected in the draft report, noting that the 
Bureau believes it already has implemented strategies relating to those 
principles for its permanent workforce, and that, internally, the 
Bureau has recommended using similar strategies for the decennial 
census as well. Commerce incorrectly asserts that we find the Bureau's 
overall approach for recruiting, hiring, and training to be 
insufficient. Rather, as the report title indicates, we believe the 
Bureau can refine its recruiting and hiring efforts and enhance 
training. Commerce agreed with one of the report's recommendations and 
in commenting on the remaining recommendations, either pointed to 
actions that it is taking that are consistent with the recommendation 
or questioned the need for taking action. We describe Commerce's 
response to the report's recommendations below. Commerce also provided 
other comments and concerns, including technical corrections and 
suggestions where additional context was needed. We revised the report 
to reflect these comments as appropriate. Our response to these 
comments and Commerce's letter appear in appendix I. 

In response to our recommendation that the Bureau refine its overall 
approach to recruiting and hiring, Commerce noted that the Bureau's 
selection tools are developed to ensure that all legal and professional 
standards for hiring employees are met, while allowing it to select the 
large number of persons needed to complete the census. Commerce also 
stated that the Bureau's previous and current job analyses would allow 
the Bureau to identify the factors most likely to predict success on 
the job and that those factors are currently represented in the 
Bureau's selection tools and procedures. We agree that the Bureau's 
recruiting approach should be designed to ensure it may select a 
sufficient number of persons to complete the census. However, we do not 
agree that the Bureau's analyses identify the factors most likely to 
predict applicants' success and are incorporated in selection tools and 
procedures. In fact, the Bureau has no documentation to indicate that 
it has identified and analyzed these factors. As a result, we concluded 
that the Bureau could refine its recruiting and hiring tools to better 
understand what makes applicants successful and thereby minimize 
operating costs. Our recommendation calls for the Bureau to use a fact- 
based approach to developing selection criteria. We believe that 
without a usable measure of performance and analysis of attrition, the 
Bureau cannot fully measure success in terms of performance and 
turnover. Such analysis would permit the Bureau to target recruitment 
to applicants who are not only more likely to perform well, but also 
continue throughout an operation. Recruiting such applicants could help 
reduce or better control operational costs as well as recruiting and 
hiring expenditures by decreasing the need to recruit and hire 
additional workers. 

Regarding our second recommendation that the Bureau determine the best 
way to gather performance data to inform rehiring decisions, Commerce 
stated that our report does not have evidence that a significantly 
large portion of rehired employees are poor performers. It also noted 
that the Bureau has taken steps to prevent the rehiring of poor 
performers. While agreeing that performance appraisal and evaluation 
are relevant in most agencies, Commerce added that such a system would 
not be practical for the Bureau given the sheer number of workers hired 
during the decennial, their temporary employment, and the time- 
consuming nature of performance management systems. Our draft report in 
no way suggested that either a "significantly large" or even a "large" 
portion of the employees are poor performers. To the contrary, neither 
we nor the Bureau has information regarding the performance of its 
temporary workers, other than whether an employee has been terminated 
for cause. Further, we disagree that our suggested appraisal system 
would create a large administrative burden. We are not recommending 
that the Bureau develop a complex, time-consuming and formal appraisal 
system in the course of obtaining performance information; instead, we 
suggest that local census offices obtain limited information, such as 
whether a crew leader would be willing to rehire a worker for a later 
operation. As we noted in the report, these data could be 
systematically collected upon a worker's termination to assess whether 
to rehire that individual. In commenting on the report, Commerce noted 
that crew leaders and other field office supervisors are instructed to 
terminate workers who are not performing at an acceptable level, thus 
eliminating them from consideration for future operations. However, the 
OIG found that during the Census 2000, managers were reluctant to 
terminate workers, but instead would refrain from assigning them new 
work. Officials we interviewed during the 2006 test told us that not 
all poor performers were terminated. We conclude that the Bureau could 
do more to determine whether an employee should be considered for 
rehiring, such as through recording the crew leader's or field office 
supervisor's overall assessment prior to an employee leaving 
operations. Without such information, the Bureau cannot know whether it 
is rehiring poor performers who had not been terminated due to conduct 
problems or unsatisfactory performance. We added additional context in 
our report about how poor-performing workers are not always terminated. 
By failing to terminate weak performers, local census offices cannot 
identify those workers if they reapply for census work in a subsequent 
operation. Finally, we do not believe that a performance assessment 
system would create a large set of legal problems because it is 
unlikely that taking such information into account would negatively 
affect the Bureau's compliance with the Uniformed Services Employment 
and Reemployment Rights Act and veterans' preference requirements. 

Commerce agreed with our third recommendation that recruiting and 
hiring tools should be modified to better differentiate applicants with 
the skills and competencies needed by crew leaders and noted that the 
Bureau is working with a contractor to do so. 

In its comments on our fourth recommendation--that the Bureau evaluate 
the effectiveness of alternate approaches to delivering training-- 
Commerce noted that the Bureau continues to explore methods for 
providing training within the constraints of time and funding, and that 
it intends to reevaluate the purely verbatim training approach. 
Commerce commented that renting or purchasing additional audiovisual 
equipment needed for nonresponse follow-up training would be cost- 
prohibitive. However, Bureau officials have told us that they have not 
studied the prevalence of audiovisual equipment in training locations; 
therefore, the Bureau cannot know the cost of providing such equipment. 
Further, we are not recommending that the Bureau rent or purchase this 
equipment. Instead, we call for the Bureau to evaluate the 
effectiveness of these alternative approaches, including audio-visual 
equipment. The internal process of reviewing previous training 
schedules and topics to identify areas needed for modification and 
emphasis is commendable; however, the Bureau does not have any 
documentation of this effort. Further, while the Commerce also asserts 
that it is not feasible to provide training content through audiovisual 
technology, in our report, we outline several ways the Bureau could 
provide this content using technology already available. Moreover, 
without studying whether alternate approaches are more efficient or 
effective; the Bureau cannot know whether or not it is worth making an 
investment in such approaches. Therefore, we continue to recommend that 
the Bureau study alternate approaches to delivering training. 

Regarding our fifth recommendation--that the Bureau incorporate into 
training visual aids that illustrate how to conduct census work-- 
Commerce explained that the Bureau will be using visual aids in address 
canvassing and nonresponse follow-up training. Commerce offered to 
provide us with the visual aids that would be used during the dress 
rehearsal; however, when we asked for these visual aids, the Bureau 
informed us that they have not been completed and could not be 
provided. We believe that introducing this material during the dress 
rehearsal is an excellent first step and commended the Bureau taking 
this step. As our report pointed out, however, the visuals proposed for 
address canvassing and nonresponse follow-up were technical in nature, 
illustrating how to use the handheld devices. Commerce also pointed out 
that the Bureau would use large maps during training in another 
operation. These maps will also likely enhance training for this 
operation. Nonetheless, in our audit work, we found that additional 
visuals, such as pictures illustrating the difference between vacant 
and occupied housing units, would have helped field staff better 
understand census work. We, therefore, believe the Bureau could do more 
to incorporate visual aids into training. 

In response to our sixth recommendation, where we recommended revising 
or modifying training on reluctant respondents, Commerce explained that 
efforts to reevaluate training are ongoing. It mentioned that adding 
material to training would make training longer and thereby costlier. 
In recognition of the costs of additional training time, we 
specifically recommended that the Bureau revise or modify its approach 
to providing training on reluctant respondents, rather than simply 
providing more training. Overall, we found that continued attention to 
providing adequate training on reluctant respondents is important, 
especially given that the Bureau believes reluctance among the nation's 
public has been increasing. 

Finally, Commerce noted that the Bureau acknowledged that location- 
specific training was necessary in some cases, as was suggested by our 
seventh recommendation. The comments provided outlined the Bureau's 
procedures for providing location-specific training modules through the 
efforts of regional census offices. We incorporated some additional 
details into our report to better characterize the role of headquarters 
staff in developing the modules used in specific local census offices. 
However, as we state in the report, developing modules for different 
types of locations centrally would allow the Bureau to control the 
consistency and quality of training throughout the nation. 

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Commerce, 
Commerce's Office of Inspector General, the Director of the U.S. Census 
Bureau, and other interested congressional committees. We will make 
copies available to others upon request. This report will also be 
available at no charge on our Web site at http://www.gao.gov. 

If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please 
contact me on (202) 512-6806 or by e-mail at sciremj@gao.gov. Contact 
points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs 
may be found on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made major 
contributions to this report are listed in appendix II. 

Signed by: 

Mathew J. ScirŤ: 
Director: 
Strategic Issues: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Comments from the Department of Commerce: 

Note: GAO comments supplementing those in the report text appear at the 
end of this appendix. 

The Deputy Secretary Of Commerce: 
Washington, D.C. 20230: 

April 4, 2007: 

Mr. Mathew J. Scire: 
Acting Director: 
Strategic Issues: 
United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

Dear Mr. Scire: 

The U.S. Department of Commerce appreciates the opportunity to comment 
on the United States Government Accountability Office's draft report 
entitled 2010 Census: Census Bureau Can Refine Recruiting and Hiring 
Efforts and Enhance Training for Temporary Field Staff (GAO-07-361). I 
enclose the Department's comments. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

David A. Sampson: 

Enclosure: 

U.S. Department of Commerce Comments on the United States Government 
Accountability Office Draft Report Entitled 2010 Census: Census Bureau 
Should Refine Recruiting and Hiring Efforts and Enhance Training for 
Temporary Field Staff (GAO-07-361) March 2007: 

The U.S. Census Bureau appreciates the United States Government 
Accountability Office's (GAO) efforts to review our recruiting, hiring, 
and training plans for the 2010 Census and this opportunity to review 
the draft report. 

The Census Bureau agrees that the application of key human capital 
principles is essential to the effective accomplishment of an agency's 
mission. This is especially true for the decennial census, because an 
exceptionally large and dispersed temporary workforce plays a large 
role. The broad, generally accepted human capital management principles 
that the GAO, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and others have 
identified provide a useful framework for shaping specific human 
capital management programs. These principles are necessarily broad 
since they are designed to have applicability across the entire 
spectrum of missions and human capital needs of the federal government. 
The principles must be general enough to help guide efforts in a 
variety of circumstances. They must also apply across a highly diverse 
set of occupations: nuclear physicists, seasonal park rangers, cemetery 
managers, information technology professionals, fire jumpers, border 
patrol agents, nurses, and so forth. 

Within that context, the Census Bureau believes that the decennial 
census presents unique human capital management needs and challenges 
that require very different strategies and solutions than those that 
would be appropriate with a permanent workforce and ongoing function. 
This is not to say that we discount the principles of good human 
capital management when dealing with these challenges; it is simply 
that we have adapted the principles of human capital management to 
address the unique requirements associated with carrying out our 
mission. 

As the report shows, for peak operations during 2010-making personal 
follow-up visits to households that do not return their census 
questionnaire by mail-the Census Bureau estimates it will need to 
recruit 2.5 million applicants, train over 1 million, and hire over 
500,000 field staff to work on a job that will last only a few months. 
This temporary workforce is nearly 100 times that of the Census 
Bureau's ongoing permanent workforce. 

For that permanent workforce, the Census Bureau believes it already has 
implemented strategies relating to the human capital principles 
highlighted by the GAO. Both our Field Division and our Human Resources 
Division are involved with the recruiting, hiring, training, and 
management of that permanent workforce (as well as of the temporary 
workforce for the decennial census) and have recommend using similar 
strategies for the decennial census as well, to the extent they are 
feasible and cost-effective. Finally, although the GAO and others have 
recognized that we met our unique challenges and successfully achieved 
our recruiting, hiring, and training objectives for Census 2000, this 
report states that our overall plan to use much-the same approach for 
the 2010 Census will not be sufficient, particularly in light of our 
plans for increased use of automation for field data collection 
activities. However, the purpose of the Census Bureau's testing in 2004 
and 2006 was to answer just the opposite question. Namely, the 
objective was to determine if the temporary workforce we traditionally 
are able to recruit, hire, train, and supervise would be capable of 
using the automated equipment. If the tests had shown this was not the 
case, we were fully prepared to drop plans to automate these activities 
because of the much higher costs and risks of having to find and hire a 
significantly different temporary workforce for this major undertaking. 
Fortunately, our tests showed that the people we know how to recruit 
and hire for these temporary positions will be able to do the jobs, so 
we have proceeded with our automation plans. As part of these plans, we 
have stressed to our field data collection automation contractor that 
we need simple, user-friendly applications and devices so that we do 
not have to recruit for special skills. 

Additional details can be found below in our comments regarding the 
recommendations that begin on page 45: 

GAO Recommendation 1: 

"To refine its approach to recruiting and hiring, evaluate .the factors 
that are associated with and predictive of employee interest in census 
work, performance, and commitment. These factors include employee prior 
work experience and employment status. Determine the best way to 
measure employee performance for the purpose of this analysis. The 
Bureau should also consider these findings for better targeting 
applicants in subsequent decennial operations. This effort should be 
conducted during address canvassing and other early operations during 
the 2008 Dress Rehearsal and during the 2010 Census. The resulting 
information will be useful when recruiting and hiring for the Bureau's 
largest decennial operation nonresponse follow-up and subsequent 
operations." 

Census Bureau Response: 

The proposed report repeatedly emphasizes that the Census Bureau needs 
to refine its recruiting and hiring approach to enhance the quality of 
candidates. The report appears to assume that our current selection 
practices are inadequate for recruiting, hiring, training, and 
retaining one of the largest peacetime mobilizations of workers in the 
nation. However, we believe our selection tools are being developed to 
ensure that they meet all legal and professional standards for reliable 
and valid employee hiring requirements, while allowing us to select the 
large number of persons needed to complete the census in all 
communities across the country. Our previous and current job analyses 
have allowed us to identify those factors that are most likely to 
predict success on the job, and these factors currently are represented 
in our selection tools and procedures. Our priority is to reach out as 
broadly as possible to the diverse communities in the country, because 
in order to hire hundreds of thousands of temporary workers, we must 
attract several million applicants. 

A new selection aid currently is being evaluated to see if it is a 
better tool than the. one that was used successfully in Census 2000 and 
in the 2004 and 2006 Census Tests. We have always depended on our 
ability to adequately train employees who have the skills for the job. 
This limits our restriction on the recruiting pool to location and 
availability. 

GAO Recommendation 2: 

"Determine the best way to gather employee performance data during the 
address canvassing operation in the 2010 Census to inform rehiring 
decisions during subsequent operations. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The GAO suggests several strategies to modify our assessment process; 
however, there is nothing in the report to suggest that a significantly 
large portion of rehired employees are poor performers, or that any 
studies or assessments by the Census Bureau, the Office of Inspector 
General (OIG), or GAO have identified this as a significant problem. 

The Census Bureau has taken steps to prevent poor performers from being 
rehired. Every enumerator's production is monitored and assessed on a 
daily basis. The crew leaders and field operations supervisors are 
instructed to terminate employees who have not performed at an 
acceptable level, which eliminates them from consideration for future 
operations. We will continue to emphasize the need for these types of 
actions. 

The suggestions concerning performance appraisal and evaluation are 
relevant in most agencies and in most relatively stable work 
environments. Performance management is undeniably important. But, 
given the sheer number of employees the Census Bureau hires for the 
decennial census, the temporary nature of these appointments, the time- 
consuming nature of a performance management system, and the lack of 
time allowed for managers to develop these employees, a performance 
management system for the decennial census is not feasible. 

Gathering performance data after the address canvassing operation has 
been completed would have the effect of creating a formal performance 
appraisal system, in which the employees being assessed were not 
involved. Unlike a performance, conduct action, or termination, the 
employee would have no knowledge that any assessment had been made that 
could prevent their subsequent employment. If such assessments were 
made, it would create a potentially large set of administrative and 
legal problems. Veterans, in particular, would have a strong basis for 
appeal under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights 
Act and under the requirements of veterans' preference. 

GAO Recommendation 3: 

"Modify recruiting and hiring tools including the skills tests and 
phone interview that better differentiate applicants with the skills 
and competencies needed by crew leaders from those who would be better 
suited for other field positions. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau agrees that hiring tools need to be evaluated and 
currently is working with a contractor to do this. For the crew leader 
position, we continue to research methods to identify and test for 
these skills that are within legal and professional best practice 
employee selection guidelines. We note that there are currently five 
different guides that are used for selections for various local census 
office (LCO) positions, including crew leaders. These guides were 
reviewed and altered based on recommendations from the regional offices 
(ROs) or LCOs. Within the selection guides, there is variance based on 
the operation for which the applicant is being interviewed. These 
guides will be reviewed and reevaluated before they go into production 
for the 2010 Census. 

GAO Recommendation 4: 

"Evaluate the effectiveness of alternative approaches for delivering 
training, including the use of video content as compared to the current 
verbatim approach. If new approaches are found to be more effective, 
evaluate the feasibility of delivering this type of training during 
subsequent operations." 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau continues to explore methods, within the constraints 
of time and funding, for providing standardized training to a national, 
diverse staff. Some of the constraints are the volume of simultaneous 
training sessions (more than 40,000) and limitations on the types of 
space we can obtain, as well as the cost to provide equipment, such as 
projectors, television, videos, and the like. At this point, it is cost-
prohibitive to either rent or purchase the audiovisual equipment needed 
for the number of simultaneous training sessions for Nonresponse Follow-
up (NRFU). We will continue to explore use of technology, as well as 
continue to improve the traditional methods of training. As an example, 
for the NRFU training for the 2008 Dress Rehearsal, we are reevaluating 
the purely verbatim training approach to include more interactive 
activities and employing more visual aids as described in response to 
Recommendation 5. 

GAO Recommendation 5: 

"Prior to the 2010 Census, incorporate into training visual aids 
illustrating how to conduct census work" 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau is using visual aids in several field operations, 
such as the following: 

* Address Canvassing (AC)--We can provide GAO with five poster-size 
screen shots of the application on the hand-held computer that will be 
used to aid in training staff for this operation. These larger size 
sheets will be included in each Lister training kit and will be posted 
on the wall during training. In addition, AC provides a quick reference 
guide to each Lister. 

* Group Quarter Validation, which is a paper-based operation, will 
provide four large maps in each trainee kit, marked for easy 
identification, to make map training more efficient and easier to 
understand. 

* Nonresponse Follow-up, which is an automated operation utilizing the 
hand-held computers, will continue to use visual aids during the 
enumerator training. The Nonresponse Follow-up training materials are 
still in the planning stage, but will incorporate similar visual aids. 

We can provide copies of the currently developed visual aids for GAO 
review. 

GAO Recommendation 6: 

"Revise or modify training to enhance material on reluctant respondents 
so that field staff are provided with a realistic impression of the 
prevalence of respondent reluctance and strategies for convincing such 
respondents to participate. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

As mentioned under our response to Recommendation 5, we are 
reevaluating our training to identify areas in need of a different or 
enhanced approach, such as providing additional tips and techniques to 
counteract reluctant respondents. It should be noted that there are 
numerous constraints that must be considered that affect training, 
including the significant cost of longer training. 

GAO Recommendation 7: 

"Prepare training modules addressing prototypical location-specific 
challenges that may be selected and used by region or local census 
offices. For example, modules on situations localities may face-such as 
enumerating apartment buildings or dealing with empty mobile home 
sites---could be developed by Bureau officials to ensure the 
consistency and quality of such models. Local or regional officials 
could then select those modules most appropriate to the local area for 
use in training. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

Our training prepares for extensive national operations like AC and 
NRFU so that all data collection is conducted in a standardized and 
consistent manner for all areas of the country. At the same time, the 
Census Bureau recognizes that there is a need for some location- 
specific training. In order to meet this need, Field Division 
headquarters staff work with the decennial managers in each Regional 
Census Center to customize a location-specific training module for the 
Local Census Offices. Field Division staff also provide guidance on how 
long and at what point during the training the location-specific 
training should be presented. 

Other comments and concerns about the report: 

Page 6: 

"Specifically, the Bureau could better target its recruiting and hiring 
through an analysis to identify the characteristics of employees who 
are successful at census work and less likely to leave census work 
before an operation ends. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The report suggests that the Census Bureau has made little effort to 
improve its recruiting and hiring processes since 2000, when, in fact, 
we have been quite proactive. As part of our research program to 
improve the employee selection processes, the Census Bureau has held 
numerous focus groups to identify which recruiting strategies are most 
effective with diverse populations. Anticipating that the move to 
automation might impact needed skill sets, we hired a contractor in 
2004 to do a preliminary examination of the impact of the hand-held 
computers on the crew leader and crew leader assistant positions. These 
results were used to develop a statement of work for hiring a 
contractor for the 2006 test to complete a job analysis for all LCO 
positions and to use the job analysis information to examine the 
continued validity of its selection tools. The job analysis identified 
which attributes are most highly associated with success on the various 
jobs. As reported to GAO, both employee debriefings and exit surveys 
have been used by the Census Bureau to help identify factors that might 
impact turnover and job tenure. Future work will examine correlations 
between job success, tenure, and performance on selection tools. During 
the 2008 Dress Rehearsal, the Census Bureau also plans to use exit 
survey data to gain additional insight into workers' decisions to leave 
before an operation is completed. 

Page 6: 

"Further, the Bureau has not differentiated its hiring tools-written 
test and phone interview administered to each qualified applicant-to 
reflect skills needed by people serving as crew leaders from those 
skills needed by other staff. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

There are five different guides that are used for selections for 
various LCO positions, which were reviewed and altered based on 
recommendations from the ROs or LCOs. These guides will again be 
reviewed before they go into production for the 2010 Census. Within the 
selection guides, there is variance based on the operation for which 
the applicant is being interviewed. The guides are DX-269A, Selection 
Guide for Enumerator; DX-269B, Selection Guide for Crew Leader; DX- 
269C, Selection Guide for Office Clerk; DX-269D, Selection Guide for 
Supervisors; and DX-269E, Selection Guide for Recruiting Assistant. The 
Census Bureau currently has a contractor to examine whether there is a 
need to revise/replace our current selection tools for all LCO 
positions, including crew leaders. This includes evaluating both the 
written test and the current interview guides used for selection. The 
decision on the appropriateness of tools for the various positions, 
including the crew leader position, will be made once the contractor 
completes its research. 

Page 6: 

"Moreover, while Bureau policies dictate that former employees are 
rehired first before selecting individuals without prior census 
experience, the Bureau does not fully consider the past performance of 
these individuals. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau recommends hiring experienced employees before 
inexperienced employees. Successful work by a census enumerator is 
difficult to judge by our temporary crew leaders, and it cannot be 
measured by production rates alone. For example, due to the variety of 
enumeration areas and the complexity of some cases, employees who are 
the best workers often are given the most challenging assignments, 
which in turn would be reflected in a lower production rate. 

Page 7: 

"The Bureau has taken limited actions to examine or enhance the 
delivery and content of the training it provides to temporary field 
staff to address challenges previously identified by the Bureau, us, 
and the OIG. The Bureau has not evaluated alternate approaches, such as 
providing video segments, to training delivery, as has been recommended 
by us and the OIG. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau does not believe these statements accurately reflect 
its commitment and implementation of continuous training improvements. 
The magnitude of the decennial census, with more than 40,000 
simultaneous training sessions, creates many challenges to 
incorporating suggestions, such as using video segments. These include 
the cost of equipment, the limitation of training space, which is 
mostly donated at no cost to the government, and the logistics of 
temporary staff setting up and moving audiovisual equipment. The Census 
Bureau has used results of past training evaluations to make continuous 
updates and improvements to its training, reflecting best practices in 
adult learning and employee training. Some of these include use of 
frequent self-assessment and practice questions, role-playing, and 
focusing on the practical applications of what is being taught. 

Page 16: 

". . . working within existing government personnel systems to make 
census jobs available and attractive to certain populations..." 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau is working with federal, state, local, and tribal 
officials who manage existing government programs and regulations to 
obtain waivers that will help expand the pool of potential applicants. 
Most of these programs involve social services and are not government 
personnel systems. 

Page 19: 

"As previously described, the Bureau's Planning Database, will be 
updated for every census tract in the nation for the 2010 Census, using 
such variables as Census 2000 mail return rates, household size, and 
percentage of linguistically isolated households, among others. The 
database might allow the Bureau to adjust its analysis for differences 
in employee productivity between locations. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Planning Database is a useful tool for several purposes, but, as we 
explained in our discussions with GAO, adjusting for differences in 
employee productivity between locations is not one of them. One of the 
uses of the Database is to help plan work loads and, in turn, inform 
recruiting goals. Elements cited above, such as mail return rates, help 
us anticipate where we may need to hire larger or smaller staff, but 
they do not give us the type of information implied in the GAO report 
that could be used in adjusting enumerator performance data in making 
decisions about rehiring a particular individual. Information about 
linguistically isolated households is useful in helping to inform the 
language skills we may need our employees to possess in a particular 
location, but not how the productivity of an employee with those skills 
working in such an area should be adjusted in making a rehire decision. 

Many of the best workers are given the most difficult assignments and 
may appear to be less productive. Therefore, penalizing these 
individuals for low productivity rates would be counterproductive. 

Page 21: 

"First, they said the Bureau focused on achieving cost containment 
through the reengineering of the census, including a short form census 
and use of handheld computers, which left little funds to make 
improvements in other areas such as recruiting and hiring. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau agrees that in trying to meet its reengineering 
objective of containing costs for the 2010 Decennial Census Program, it 
focused on those things most likely to produce significant cost 
savings. By far the most expensive task of the census is NRFU. The best 
way to reduce the costs of that operation is to reduce the work load 
through improvements that will increase the mail response rate 
(including using hand-held computers so that late mail returns can be 
removed from the NRFU work load after the operation begins). The second 
best way to reduce the costs of NRFU is to minimize the amount of paper 
(questionnaires, maps, payroll forms) needed for that operation, along 
with the attendant space and staff needed to control and process all 
that paper. Thus, these are the areas where we focused our 
reengineering efforts-in particular, automating field data collection 
and use of a replacement questionnaire mailing to increase mail 
response rates. 

We did not believe, and still do not believe, that adding more 
complexity to the recruiting, testing, hiring, training, and 
supervision efforts are likely to produce significant cost savings. 
Furthermore, we are extremely adverse to making any changes likely to 
reduce our ability to find all the people we need to complete these 
tasks in the time constrained by two legal deadlines. Title 13 of 
United States Code requires that Census Day be April 1, 2010, and that 
within nine months of April 1, the Secretary of Commerce must deliver 
the apportionment counts to the President. 

Page 22: 

"Regarding evaluating factors that would allow the Bureau to target 
potential applicants and hence improve recruiting practices, Bureau 
officials said that doing this could prevent the Bureau from forming 
community-based census crews that, in their view, are more likely to be 
familiar with the local environment, build trust with nonrespondents, 
and hence elicit their participation in the census, more easily than 
would other field staff. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The census is a national event, but it is a local activity. Local 
governments, community-based organizations, and other local 
organizations and groups expect that their residents, clients, and/or 
constituents will have a role in taking the census. These entities 
support the Census Bureau's efforts to recruit and hire an indigenous 
workforce to take the census in every political jurisdiction and in 
every neighborhood in the United States and Puerto Rico. The Census 
Bureau has found that hiring people to work in the neighborhoods in 
which they live literally opens doors. Hiring locals also gives us 
staff who have a more detailed knowledge of the specific area. This 
familiarity helps them locate housing units more easily and can afford 
them easier access to areas that outsiders would not have (for example, 
hiring someone who lives in a gated community to enumerate that 
community). Enumerators' duty stations are their homes. They are paid 
mileage and time from the moment they leave their homes to begin 
assignments. Therefore, hiring people from the neighborhoods in which 
they work helps to reduce cost and improve response rates. 

Page 22: 

"Moreover, according to Bureau officials, having a large applicant pool 
provides the Bureau with assurance that it can meet its recruiting 
goals; however, they agree that this approach may not be the most cost- 
effective. The contractor suggested that the Bureau develop methods to 
recruit for the 2010 Census without the resulting applicant pool 
exceeding the number it plans to hire by such large amounts. 
Nevertheless, the Bureau does not plan to modify this approach and will 
continue to recruit five times as many individuals as it plans to 
hire." 

Census Bureau Response: 

The second part of the statement is inaccurate. The Census Bureau is 
taking a preliminary look at whether varying recruiting goals by area 
is a viable alternative. 

Page 23: 

"A more targeted approach to recruiting and hiring for the 2010 Census 
could allow the Bureau to recruit and hire staff with the necessary 
skills and interest for census work, and identify applicants who would 
be more likely to commit to long-term employment and be successful 
throughout census operations. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

Census positions are temporary. The majority of the positions exist for 
6-8 weeks. Although individuals who may be employed in June 2009 may be 
rehired in December 2009 and again in June 2010, this is not long-term 
employment. Well-qualified individuals who are interested in longer 
term employment are hired as managers or to replace experienced staff 
who have vacated their permanent positions to work on the decennial for 
a limited period of time. 

Page 24: 

"While updated hiring tools may be implemented during the 2010 Census, 
Bureau officials said that, overall, they do not expect major changes 
to be made. Changes that will be made to the hiring process will be to 
account for the automation of field data collection, and not for 
differentiating hiring tools for crew leaders and other positions. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau is examining all of its selection tools, and 
decisions about needed revisions and replacement of these tools will be 
made when the research is completed. While one of the major purposes 
for soliciting a comprehensive review of census selection tests by a 
contractor was to examine the impact of the automation on required job 
skills, the contractor has also been tasked with conducting a 
comprehensive study that will address the validity and reliability of 
all selection tools. The Census Bureau notes that none of the analyses 
to date have indicated that current selection tools are neither valid 
nor reliable for selecting any LCO positions. In addition, an OPM study 
of census selection tests and procedures prior to Census 2000 concluded 
that the selection tools were indeed valid, and that most competencies 
required for the various field staff jobs were the same. The OPM did 
recommend that a test component be added to address interpersonal 
skills, and during 2000, an experiment was conducted for this using an 
off-the-shelf personality test. Work in this area continues with the 
current contractor. 

Page 26: 

"Bureau officials said they do not expect to revise these tools for the 
2010 Census because the phone interview has two sets of questions for 
the crew leaders. That is the bureau does not plan to hone its tools to 
target the skills needed by crew leaders, a key position for decennial 
field activities. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau recognizes that the CL position requires many skills, 
such as training, supervision and organization, and continues to 
research methods to identify these skills that are within the approved 
guidelines. As stated previously, there are three different selection 
guides that are used for selections for various LCO positions: the DX- 
269A, Selection Guide for Enumerator; the DX-269B, Selection Guide for 
Crew Leader; and the DX-269D, Selection Guide for Supervisors (which 
includes information for field and office supervisors). These guides 
were reviewed and altered based on recommendations from the ROs or LCOs 
and will be reviewed before they go into production for the 2010 
Census. Within the selection guides, there is variance based on the 
operation for which the applicant is being interviewed. 

Page 27: 

"The following observations were made about individuals in the crew 
leader position: they did not have the skills necessary to perform the 
duties required in that position; they did not feel comfortable 
providing training to enumerators and asked their assistants to 
deliver; they did not have the appropriate leadership skills; and. 
needed for that position." 

Census Bureau Response: 

These observations are not consistent with the results of the Census 
Bureau's-sponsored evaluations of staff preparedness following training 
and on-the-job performance. For example, a 2006 study conducted by a 
contractor found that field staff were adequately prepared to do the 
tasks associated with their jobs. Our debriefing results also indicate 
that CLs felt they were adequately prepared, although there were areas 
where they would like more training. 

Page 28: 

"When hiring, Bureau policies dictate that former employees are rehired 
first..." 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau recommends, not dictates, hiring experienced 
employees before inexperienced employees. 

Page 28: 

"Nor does the Bureau prepare employee performance evaluations that 
could be used later when considering rehiring former employees. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

Due to the short-term nature of decennial census employment, the Census 
Bureau believes it is impractical and cost-prohibitive to conduct 
formal performance evaluations for these positions. Furthermore, OPM 
recognizes this and has exempted the Census Bureau from this 
requirement to conduct evaluations for all temporary Schedule A 
employees (this includes the enumerators, crew leaders, as well as 
other field staff) and managerial staff serving in the LCOs under a one-
year temporary appointment. 

This does not mean that the Census Bureau does not evaluate 
performance. As noted in the GAO report, the Census Bureau monitors 
productivity on a daily basis and corrects or terminates poor 
performers, as necessary. 

Pages 28/29: 

"Bureau officials said that they try to exclude rehiring former 
employees who were terminated for cause. Bureau officials say they try 
not to rehire those individuals that were terminated for cause. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau does not rehire former employees who were terminated 
for cause. The Decennial Applicant Personnel and Payroll System does 
not allow for the rehire of employees who were terminated for cause. 

Page 30: 

"Although officials believe they lack sufficient time to consider past 
performance when rehiring, we believe that the Bureau does have enough 
time. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

Please see our comments in response to Recommendation 2. 

Page 30: 

"If I S percent of the field staff were to be rehired during the 2010 
Census, as was the case during the 2006 Census Test, the Bureau would 
not have performance data to meaningfully evaluate whether to rehire 
approximately 90,000 individuals. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

In 2010, there will not be 90,000 individuals with previous census 
experience available for NRFU. At best, roughly 70,000 individuals are 
employed for AC-the second largest operation the Census Bureau 
conducts. The majority of those individuals will most likely not 
reapply for subsequent temporary operations that are conducted a year 
later. Even if 15 percent of them do so, this would only produce a pool 
of about 10,000 experienced staff far short of the 500,000 enumerators 
we believe will be needed for NRFU. 

Page 33: 

"In 2004, the OIG suggested the Bureau explore the use of interactive 
training methods, as the Bureau does for other non-decennial surveys. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

Survey trainees are less than 1/50 the number of short-term decennial 
employees. In addition, survey employees are expected to be long-term, 
as opposed to the very short-term nature of decennial census 
operations. It is not valid to compare the two types of trainees or 
methods. 

Pages 34 and 35: 

"While there are training locations that will not have access to 
audiovisual technology, several options exist that could allow video 
content to be used more broadly. One option the Bureau could pursue is 
providing video contents. to its field staff to watch during their self-
study as homework assignments. If only a few training sites. crews 
could be invited into the local census office to view video segments. 
If more training sites lack such technology ., field operations 
supervisors, who we observed . could show video segments on their 
laptops. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The report appears to be confusing the techniques available to trainers 
and trainees for our ongoing surveys with what is available to 
decennial trainers and trainees. In most cases, decennial enumerators 
do not have self-study materials. There are no approved criteria to 
require that a trainee has a VCR or DVD, even though this equipment may 
be widely available. Trainees who did not have the equipment would be 
at a disadvantage in the classroom. The same applies to Internet 
access. The suggestion to invite crews to the LCO disregards the 
logistics of an LCO with more than 1,000 enumerators widely dispersed 
throughout the boundaries of the LCO (sometimes living hundreds of 
miles from their LCO). Also, each field operations supervisor has a 
crew of approximately eight crew leaders, with up to 16 trainees in 
each session. It is not logical to believe that trainees would receive 
any benefit from crowding around a laptop screen. 

The Census Bureau has not conducted a formal evaluation because basic 
calculations of the costs and constraints of this strategy make it 
unfeasible to effectively implement. Nevertheless, the Census Bureau 
continues to seek ways to improve the traditional training by 
reevaluating the presentations and use of visual aids. The HHC will 
include screen shots as illustrated on page 35 of the GAO report. It 
has been, and will continue to be, a part of the HHC applications. 

Page 36: 

"In that regard, a series of pictures illustrating features of vacant 
housing units, such as uncut grass or boarded-up windows, might provide 
field staff additional information to help them make these judgments 
consistently. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

While the Census Bureau supports the use of visual aids, our procedures 
instruct the Lister to not only rely on visual cues but also to talk 
with a knowledgeable person in close proximity to the unit before 
classifying it as vacant. We do not want enumerators to consider 
Housing Units vacant based solely on visual cues. 

Page 40: 

(Summary) This page contains several examples of conditions in South 
Dakota and Austin, Texas that might not apply to all areas of the 
country in 2010. 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau must prepare national training to incorporate as many 
disparate examples as possible. In addition, the Census Bureau 
encourages each RO to identify local conditions that might require 
specific information. We will continue to explore more formal ways to 
assist the ROs in this endeavor. 

Page 44: 

"However, its hiring tools have not adequately differentiated between 
crew leaders and their field staff. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

As stated above, there are three different selection guides that are 
used for selections for various LCO field positions. The DX-269A, 
Selection Guide for Enumerator; the DX-269B, Selection Guide for Crew 
Leader; and the DX-269D, Selection Guide for Supervisors (this guide 
includes information for field and office supervisors). These guides 
were reviewed and revised based on recommendations from the ROs or LCOs 
and will be reviewed before they go into production for the 2010 
Census. Within the selection guides, there is variance based on the 
operation in which the applicant is being interviewed. 

Page 44: 

"Finally, the Bureau. when rehiring former employees, who are given 
preference during hiring for later operations. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

The Census Bureau recommends, not dictates, hiring experienced 
employees before inexperienced employees. 

Page 44: 

"Moreover, while the Bureau will be incorporating visual aids on how to 
use the hand held computers, it has not developed other visual aids 
that could improve the ability of field staff to conduct census 
operations. " 

Census Bureau Response: 

For the 2008 Dress Rehearsal, the Census Bureau has developed five 
poster-size visual aids-for use in the AC. These are screen shots from 
the HHC and will be moved in the training sessions. There is also a 
Quick Reference Guide that has been developed for AC field staff use. 
The Group Quarters Validation (GQV) operation, which is a paper-based 
operation, has developed large-scale maps to assist in Lister training. 
For DR, NRFU will continue to use an updated Quick Reference Guide that 
was used in the 2006 test and will develop large-scale visual aids. 
NRFU is not at the same point of training material development as AC 
and GQV. 

The following are GAO's comments on the Department of Commerce's 
(Commerce) "other comments and concerns about the report" section of 
the letter dated April 4, 2007. 

GAO Comments: 

1. This report does not, as stated in this comment, suggest that the 
U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) made "little effort to improve its 
recruiting and hiring practices." In fact, we commend the Bureau for 
taking steps such as identifying critical skills for its field staff in 
using the handheld computer and using employee insights to improve its 
recruiting and hiring practices. We provided additional context in our 
report related to the Bureau's future work to examine correlations 
between job success, tenure, and performance on selection tools. 
Further, we also added the Bureau's plans during the 2008 Dress 
Rehearsal to use exit survey data to gain additional insights on why a 
worker left before an operation was completed. Such evaluations and 
insights may help the Bureau improve its recruiting and hiring 
processes for the 2010 Census. 

2. As noted in the report, we reviewed each of these selection guides 
described in Commerce's comments. We found that these tools do not 
specifically ask whether the applicants have experience in providing 
training or using computers--critical skills needed for individuals in 
the crew leader position. We note in the report that the Bureau has a 
contractor that will examine the current selection tools during the 
2008 Dress Rehearsal, including those used to select crew leaders. 

3. We have revised the report to reflect the Bureau's clarification 
that it "recommends" hiring experienced employees before inexperienced 
ones. 

4. We have revised our report to reflect the Bureau's stated commitment 
to continuously improving training, including the use of self- 
assessment and practice questions, role-playing, and focusing on the 
practical applications of what is being taught. Further, we 
incorporated additional information about the unique challenges faced 
by the Bureau in training its temporary field staff. 

5. We incorporated the clarifying information Commerce provided that 
the Bureau is working with federal, state, local, and tribal officials 
to obtain waivers that will help expand the pool of potential 
applicants. 

6. We have added to the report additional explanation of how the 
Planning Database may provide useful information in understanding 
productivity. The report describes how this information would be useful 
in designing a multiple regression or other statistical method for 
determining likely predictors for successful field staff. Such 
information would be helpful in designing a recruiting strategy and not 
for making individual rehiring decisions. We include in the report 
additional explanation of how the data would assist in such an 
analysis. 

7. Commerce states that adding more complexity to the recruiting, 
testing, hiring, training, and supervision efforts will not produce 
significant cost savings. We revised the report to further reflect 
Commerce's views on this matter. However, without adequately evaluating 
its existing recruiting, hiring, and training practices, the Bureau 
risks unnecessarily hiring too many employees without the right skills 
and commitment to completing key operations. As we note in our report, 
a more targeted approach could allow the Bureau to identify applicants 
who would be more likely to commit to long-term employment and be 
successful throughout census operations. Having these workers could 
help reduce or better control operational costs as well as recruiting 
and hiring expenditures. Better-performing workers could also complete 
fieldwork more expediently, thereby potentially decreasing the time 
needed to complete operations. 

8. We agree with Commerce's comments. The draft described the 
advantages of forming community-based census crews. 

9. We have clarified our report to reflect that the Bureau is taking a 
preliminary look at whether varying recruiting goals by area is a 
viable alternative. However, we have not received documents related to 
this effort. 

10. We agree with Commerce's comment that the positions the Bureau 
recruits and hires for are not longterm. We have clarified the report 
to refer to workers who complete an operation and may stay on to work 
for later decennial operations. 

11. We clarified our report to reflect Commerce's comments about the 
contractor's current study to address the validity and reliability of 
its selection tools. 

12. Commerce noted that in Bureau evaluations of staff preparedness, 
field staff said they were adequately prepared to do their jobs. 
Further, crew leaders indicated in Bureau debriefings that they felt 
adequately prepared although there were areas where they would like 
more training. However, in this instance, we are not critiquing the 
Bureau's training of crew leaders. Rather, we have found that during 
the hiring phase--before training occurs--the Bureau does not have 
appropriate hiring tools to identify and select crew leaders with the 
needed skills for that position, such as skills for instructing crews 
and troubleshooting computers. Commerce also noted that a 2006 
contractor found that field staff were adequately prepared to do the 
tasks associated with their jobs. However, this evaluation assesses 
whether training effectively prepared crew leaders, their assistants, 
and enumerators to use the handheld computers. 

13. We appreciate Commerce's concern that it is impractical and cost- 
prohibitive to conduct formal performance evaluations for temporary 
field positions. However, a system that the Bureau could use does not 
need to be complex or time-consuming. As we noted in the report, 
information from supervisors on the performance of their workers was 
readily available. Such information could be systematically collected 
upon a worker's termination to assess whether to rehire that 
individual. 

14. We revised the report to state that, according to Bureau officials, 
its Decennial Applicant Personnel and Payroll System does not allow it 
to rehire employees terminated for cause. 

15. See our response to Commerce's comments on the second 
recommendation in our evaluation of the agency's comments on page 35 of 
the report. 

16. Our analysis of hiring data from the 2006 Census Test found that 
almost 15 percent of field staff were rehired for a later operation. 
These data included field staff from all field operations conducted 
during the 2006 test, including update/leave and group quarters 
enumeration. Therefore, this figure takes into account potential 
workers that the Bureau could rehire in all operations, and not just 
address canvassing and nonresponse follow-up. 

17. We acknowledge the differences between the decennial and other 
Bureau operations, but nonetheless believe, as the OIG suggested in 
2004, that some lessons could be learned from the Bureau's overall 
experiences with survey training. 

18. The options provided in our report were not intended to be 
exhaustive, nor did we suppose that any of them would work in all field 
situations. Throughout the report, we were cognizant of the constraints 
and costs facing the Bureau, including those associated with training 
sites and equipment rental and purchases. We revised our report to 
reflect the Bureau's concerns about the costs of buying and renting 
audiovisual equipment; however, we offered various options as a way of 
illustrating that the Bureau should consider innovative ways to provide 
training outside the context of a verbatim approach. We commend the 
Bureau's efforts to incorporate visual aids and computer-based training 
into training for address canvassing and nonresponse follow-up. 

19. We agree with the Bureau's position that conversation with a 
knowledgeable person is also important and have incorporated this into 
the report. As our draft report indicated, however, understanding such 
visual cues would serve as an additional source of information for 
field workers. 

20. The Bureau's efforts to explore more formal ways to assist the 
regional census offices to identify location-specific issues that might 
require unique information is a positive step. We have incorporated 
additional information into the report to acknowledge the Bureau's role 
in assisting regional census offices. However, we believe that the 
efforts the regional census offices would be enhanced if the Bureau 
prepared training modules addressing prototypical location-specific 
challenges that the regional census offices may use. 

21. See our response to Commerce comments on our fourth and fifth 
recommendations starting on page 36 of the report. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Mathew J. ScirŤ (202) 512-6806 or sciremj@gao.gov: 

Acknowledgements: 

[End of section] 

In addition to the contact name above, Ernie Hazera, Assistant 
Director; Betty Clark; Shirley Hwang; Krista Loose; and Scott Purdy 
made key contributions to the report. Thomas Beall, Catherine Hurley, 
Andrea Levine, and Donna Miller provided significant technical support. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

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. 

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. 

2010 Census: Census Bureau Needs to Take Prompt Actions to Resolve Long-
standing and Emerging Address and Mapping Challenges. GAO-06-272. 
Washington, D.C.: June 15, 2006. 

2010 Census: Costs and Risks Must Be Closely Monitored and Evaluated 
with Mitigation Plans in Place. GAO-06-822T. Washington, D.C.: June 6, 
2006. 

2010 Census: Census Bureau Generally Follows Selected Leading 
Acquisition Planning Practices, but Continued Management Attention Is 
Needed to Help Ensure Success. GAO-06-277. Washington, D.C.: May 18, 
2006. 

2010 Census: Planning and Testing Activities Are Making Progress. GAO- 
06-465T. Washington, D.C.: March 1, 2006. 

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

Data Quality: Improvements to Count Correction Efforts Could Produce 
More Accurate Census Data. GAO-05-463. Washington, D.C.: June 20, 2005. 

Information Technology Management: Census Bureau Has Implemented Many 
Key Practices, but Additional Actions Are Needed. GAO-05-661. 
Washington, D.C.: June 16, 2005. 

2010 Census: Basic Design Has Potential, but Remaining Challenges Need 
Prompt Resolution. GAO-05-9. Washington, D.C.: January 12, 2005. 

Data Quality: Census Bureau Needs to Accelerate Efforts to Develop and 
Implement Data Quality Review Standards. GAO-05-86. Washington, D.C.: 
November 17, 2004. 

American Community Survey: Key Unresolved Issues. GAO-05-82. 
Washington, D.C.: October 8, 2004. 

2010 Census: Counting Americans Overseas as Part of the Decennial 
Census Would Not Be Cost-Effective. GAO-04-898. Washington, D.C.: 
August 19, 2004. 

2010 Census: Overseas Enumeration Test Raises Need for Clear Policy 
Direction. GAO-04-470. Washington, D.C.: May 21, 2004. 

2010 Census: Cost and Design Issues Need to Be Addressed Soon. GAO-04- 
37. Washington, D.C.: January 15, 2004. 

2000 Census: Lessons Learned for Planning a More Cost-Effective 2010 
Census. GAO-03-40. Washington, D.C.: October 31, 2002. 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] GAO, A Model of Strategic Human Capital Management, GAO-02-373SP 
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 15, 2002). 

[2] GAO, Human Capital: Key Principles for Effective Strategic 
Workforce Planning, GAO-04-39 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 11, 2003). 

[3] GAO-04-39. 

[4] GAO, Human Capital: A Self-Assessment Checklist for Agency Leaders, 
GAO/OCG-00-14G (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 2000). 

[5] GAO/OCG-00-14G. 

[6] See, for example, GAO, Human Capital: A Guide for Assessing 
Strategic Training and Development Efforts in the Federal Government, 
GAO-04-546G (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 2004) and GAO-02-373SP. 

[7] GAO-02-373SP. 

[8] Throughout this report, we use the term field staff to refer to 
crew leaders, crew leader assistants, enumerators, and listers--the 
frontline staff collecting data for the Bureau. 

[9] GAO, 2000 Census: Best Practices and Lessons Learned for More Cost- 
Effective Nonresponse Follow-up, GAO-02-196 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 11, 
2002). 

[10] Janet Cummings, Census 2000: Staffing the Nation's Largest Data 
Collection Workforce, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, Aug. 
2001). 

[11] GAO-02-196. 

[12] Local census offices experiencing difficulties in recruiting 
applicants are able to lower the cutoff score on the written test. 

[13] As stated earlier, the quality control process involves rechecking 
a sample of completed work an individual performed and correcting it if 
significant problems are detected. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of 
work completed is checked in all operations. 

[14] Officials said productivity data are primarily collected and used 
for budgetary purposes. 

[15] Westat, Inc., Factors Affecting Census 2000 Recruiting (Rockville, 
Md.: Jan. 7, 2002). 

[16] Office of Personnel Management, A Test Validation Study of the 
Bureau of the Census: Decennial Census Non-Supervisory and Supervisory 
Selection Aids, PRDC-97-02 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 1997). 

[17] Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General, Improving Our 
Measure of America: What the 2004 Census Test Can Teach Us in Planning 
for the 2010 Decennial Census, OIG-16949 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 
2004). 

[18] These sessions aimed to obtain information that will improve 
Bureau procedures, including training. We reviewed summaries of 
debriefings conducted for three operations--nonresponse follow-up, 
update/enumerate, and address canvassing. The Bureau's debriefing 
documents did not specify how many participants were included during 
debriefings for update/enumerate and address canvassing. During 
nonresponse follow-up debriefings, Bureau officials spoke with 3 field 
operations supervisors, 9 crew leaders, 5 crew leader assistants, and 
18 enumerators. These statements reflect the opinions of a sample of 
individuals who completed the operation. Field workers who left the 
census before the end of the operation were not included in these 
debriefings. 

[19] These sessions aimed to obtain information that will improve 
Bureau procedures, including training. We reviewed summaries of 
debriefings conducted for three operations--nonresponse follow-up, 
update/enumerate, and address canvassing. 

[20] The handheld computers developed by Harris will not include 
software that will allow field staff to play games during training. 

[21] OIG-16949. 

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

[23] OIG-16949. 

[24] GAO-04-546G. 

[25] U.S. Census Bureau, 2003. 

[26] Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General, Valuable 
Learning Opportunities Were Missed in the 2006 Test of Address 
Canvassing, OIG-17524 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 2006). 

[27] Eagle International, Inc., 2004 Census Test: Review and Evaluation 
of Training Efficacy (Rochester, N.Y.: Oct. 21, 2005). 

[28] OIG-16949. 

[29] As previously discussed, these sessions aimed to obtain 
information that will improve Bureau procedures, including training. We 
reviewed summaries of debriefings conducted for three operations-- 
nonresponse follow-up, update/enumerate, and address canvassing. 

[30] OIG-16949. 

[31] The example of Abbotsville, Oklahoma, was not used in nonresponse 
follow-up training. It was used to train field staff in South Dakota to 
carry out the update/enumerate operation. That operation targets 
communities with special enumeration needs and where most housing units 
may not have house number and street name mailing addresses. These 
areas include resort areas with high concentrations of seasonally 
vacant housing units and selected American Indian reservations. The 
training provided for this operation is different from that provided 
during nonresponse follow-up. 

[32] As previously discussed, these sessions aimed to obtain 
information that will improve Bureau procedures, including training. We 
reviewed summaries of debriefings conducted for three operations-- 
nonresponse follow-up, update/enumerate, and address canvassing. 

[33] GAO-05-9. 

[34] The National Academies Press, Reengineering the 2010 Census: Risks 
and Challenges (Washington, D.C.: 2004). 

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