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Technology Have Progressed, But Much Uncertainty Remains' which was 
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Testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and 
the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives, 
House of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office:
GAO: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 10:00 a.m. EDT:
Wednesday, June 11, 2008: 

2010 Census: 

Plans for Decennial Census Operations and Technology Have Progressed, 
But Much Uncertainty Remains: 

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

David A. Powner:
Director, Information Technology Management Issues: 

GAO-08-886T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-08-886T, a testimony to the Committee on Oversight 
and Government Reform and the Subcommittee on Information Policy, 
Census, and National Archives, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

On April 3, 2008, the Secretary of Commerce announced significant 
changes to how the Census Bureau (Bureau) would conduct nonresponse 
follow-up, its largest field operation, in which census workers 
interview households that do not return initial census forms for the 
2010 decennial census, and to its Field Data Collection Automation 
(FDCA) contract. The Bureau has since issued a redesigned plan to 
conduct a paper-based follow-up operation, an integrated 2010 Census 
project schedule, and is working on revising the FDCA contract. These 
are major changes late in the decennial census cycle. This testimony 
discusses (1) the Bureau’s plans for conducting a paper-based 
nonresponse follow-up operation, (2) management of the FDCA contract 
and its latest cost estimates, and (3) the status of the Bureau’s 
integrated 2010 project schedule. This testimony is based on past work, 
recent interviews with Bureau officials, and a review of redesign 
documents. 

What GAO Found: 

The Bureau has taken important steps to plan for a paper-based 
nonresponse follow-up operation, but several aspects remain uncertain. 
On May 8, 2008, the Bureau issued a paper-based nonresponse follow-up 
plan that details key components of the operation and describes 
processes for managing it and other operations. However, the plan 
envisions using an information system to manage the field operation 
workload, which experienced significant problems when tested earlier in 
the dress rehearsal. These problems make it more critical to test the 
system’s capabilities for supporting the nonresponse follow-up 
operation. The Bureau will also institute new strategies—through second 
mailings and a new approach to remove late mail returns—but has only 
tested some aspects of these operations and will be unable to test them 
in a dress rehearsal, making it difficult to estimate their impact on 
operations in 2010. Ideally, the dress rehearsal should test almost all 
of the operations and procedures planned for the decennial under as 
close to census-like conditions as possible. Bureau officials expect 
that some small-scale testing will occur, particularly integration 
testing for its operations control system and cognitive testing of the 
forms used by enumerators for nonresponse follow-up, but what will be 
tested and when is not yet certain.
 
The Bureau has taken several positive steps to address FDCA program 
management and oversight, but cost estimates need reconciling. The 
Bureau has taken actions to strengthen the FDCA program office 
leadership and expertise. To lead the program office, the Bureau has 
assigned an experienced Census program manager and hired an outside 
information technology expert to provide executive level guidance. The 
Bureau has also taken actions to improve communications and 
transparency of contractor activities. Further, the Bureau has obtained 
an independent government cost estimate based on the changes to the 
FDCA program’s scope, which is nearly $600 million less than the 
contractor’s rough order of magnitude estimate. After the contractor 
develops its detailed cost estimate, then the Bureau will need to 
reconcile the two cost estimates and renegotiate the contract. The 
Bureau will need to ensure that the final contract modifications and 
terms allow for FDCA program activities to be conducted in a timely and 
accurate manner for the 2010 decennial census. 

The Bureau’s integrated schedule, dated May 22, 2008, identifies over 
11,000 activities and milestones for the census. There is overlap in 
the testing and deployment schedule for the handheld device that will 
be used to collect address data in the field. Further, the Bureau’s 
summary of key milestones does not include a milestone for when testing 
of key activities related to nonresponse follow-up will take place. 
Such milestones are important because nonresponse follow-up is the 
single largest field operation and will not be part of a dress 
rehearsal. The Bureau recognizes that it could include a key milestone 
for nonresponse follow-up testing activities. GAO is reviewing in 
greater detail the summary and integrated schedule of milestones and a 
summary of program risks provided on June 4th. 

What GAO Recommends: 

At this time GAO is not making any new recommendations. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-886T]. For more 
information, contact Mathew Scirè at (202) 512-6806 or sciremj@gao.gov 
or David Powner at (202) 512-9286 or pownerd@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Mr. Chairmen and Members of the Committee and Subcommittee: 

We are pleased to be here today to discuss the Census Bureau's (Bureau) 
plans for conducting the decennial census. For 2010, the Bureau 
intended to automate field data collection activities as a way to 
reduce costs and improve data quality and operational efficiency; 
however, testing uncovered several problems with its planned use of 
technology and the Bureau has now revised its plans. This statement 
focuses on the Bureau's efforts to redesign the 2010 Census, including 
1) the Bureau's plans for conducting a paper-based nonresponse follow- 
up operation in 2010; (2) management of the Field Data Collection 
Automation (FDCA) program and its latest cost estimates; and (3) the 
status of the Bureau's integrated 2010 schedule, including milestones. 

In March 2008, we designated the 2010 Census as a high-risk area, 
citing several long-standing and emerging challenges.[Footnote 1] These 
challenges include weaknesses in managing information technology (IT), 
questions surrounding the performance of handheld computers, 
uncertainty over the cost of the 2010 Census, and the elimination of 
several operations from the 2008 Dress Rehearsal. In February 2008, the 
Director of the Bureau initiated a replanning of the FDCA program, a 
major acquisition that includes systems, equipment (including handheld 
computers), and infrastructure for field staff to use in collecting 
data for the 2010 Census. After analyzing several options to revise the 
design of the decennial, the Secretary of Commerce, on April 3, 2008, 
announced that the Bureau would no longer use handheld computers in its 
largest field operation, nonresponse follow-up--in which field workers 
interview households that did not return census forms. However, the 
Bureau would continue with the contract for the FDCA program to provide 
handheld computers for address canvassing--in which field workers 
verify addresses--and develop the information system for controlling 
the workload of all census field operations. The Bureau estimated that, 
along with updating its assumptions, the option of conducting a paper- 
based nonresponse follow-up but using handheld computers for address 
canvassing, would result in a cost increase of $2.2 billion to $3 
billion over the previously reported estimate of $11.5 billion. 

On April 15, 2008, the Bureau Director reported on the Bureau's ongoing 
efforts to address problems associated with the FDCA program and its 
plans to implement a paper-based nonresponse follow-up. In addition to 
announcing strengthened management planning and oversight, he 
reiterated that--from April 9, 2008 when the Director testified before 
this Committee--the Bureau would provide a detailed operating plan for 
its FDCA program within 30 days, including deadlines for key 
milestones, and the related paper-based nonresponse follow-up 
operation; in 45 days, the Bureau would develop an integrated project 
schedule for the 2010 Census; and, in 60 days, the Bureau would produce 
a testing program for the automated address canvassing operation. 

Our testimony today is based on our past work, including our 
observation of the use of handheld computers in the address canvassing 
dress rehearsal, as well as the status of the Bureau's redesign 
efforts. In assessing the status of the redesign, we reviewed and 
discussed with Bureau officials documents, including plans for a paper- 
based nonresponse follow-up operation, related FDCA documents, and the 
2010 Census integrated schedule. This work was conducted in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards 
require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, 
appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence 
obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions. 

In summary, the Bureau has taken important steps to plan for a paper- 
based nonresponse follow-up operation, but several aspects remain 
uncertain. The Bureau's plan for nonresponse follow-up, released on May 
8, 2008, details key components of the operation and its management. 
However, the plan envisions using an information system, to manage the 
field operation workload, which experienced significant problems when 
tested earlier in the dress rehearsal, and proposes new replacement 
mailing and late mail return strategies, which have not been fully 
tested. The Bureau has also taken several positive steps to address 
FDCA program management and oversight, but will need to reconcile the 
cost estimates from its own FDCA contractor and an independent 
government estimate, which differed by nearly $600 million. Finally, 
the Bureau's integrated schedule, dated May 22, 2008, identifies over 
11,000 activities and milestones for the decennial. However, there is 
overlap in the testing and deployment schedule for the handheld device 
that will be used to collect address data in the field, and the 
integrated schedule also does not specifically define testing for key 
information technology systems (e.g. system, integration, and end-to- 
end). The Bureau also issued the 2010 Census Key Operational Milestone 
Schedule. This represents a higher level summary of about 175 key 
activities and is linked to the more exhaustive integrated schedule. 
However, there are several notable exceptions to this schedule of key 
operational milestones. For example, the schedule does not include a 
milestone for when testing of key activities related to nonresponse 
follow-up will take place. Such milestones are important because 
nonresponse follow-up is the single largest field operation and will 
not be part of a dress rehearsal. The Bureau recognizes that it could 
include a key milestone for nonresponse follow-up testing activities. 
We are currently reviewing in greater detail the summary and integrated 
schedule of milestones and the recently revised summary of program 
risks provided on June 4th. 

Background: 

The Bureau has less than two years until Census Day. To ensure a 
successful census, sound risk management will be crucial, particularly 
given its scope, magnitude, and immutable deadlines of the census. The 
size of the decennial operation means that small problems can magnify 
quickly, and big problems could be overwhelming. For example, 60 
seconds might seem like an inconsequential amount of time, but in 2000, 
if enumerators had spent just 1 minute more at each household during 
nonresponse follow-up, almost $10 million would have been added to the 
cost of the census. Further, sound risk management is important to a 
successful census because many risks are interrelated, and a 
shortcoming in one operation could cause other operations to spiral 
downward. For instance, a low mail response rate would drive up the 
follow-up workload, which in turn would increase staffing needs and 
costs. Of course, the reverse is also true, where a success in one 
operation could positively affect downstream operations. Nevertheless, 
rigorous up-front planning and testing, as well as risk mitigation 
plans, are the best ways to stave off problems. Finally, the census is 
conducted against a backdrop of immutable deadlines; the census' 
elaborate chain of interrelated pre-and post-Census Day activities is 
predicated upon those dates. To meet legally mandated reporting 
requirements, including delivery of population counts to the President 
on December 31, 2010, census activities need to take place at specific 
times and in the proper sequence. 

Bureau Has Taken Important Steps in Planning for a Paper-based 
Nonresponse Follow-up Operation, But Much Remains Uncertain: 

On May 8, 2008 the Bureau issued its plans for conducting the 2010 
Census paper-based nonresponse follow-up operation outlining key 
operational decisions. Among these is the need to develop an 
information system to manage the workload for a paper-based nonresponse 
follow-up operation and for additional field infrastructure, such as 
more telephones and computers to support this operation, to restructure 
the replacement mailing[Footnote 2] and the removal of late mail 
returns from the nonresponse follow-up workload, as well as the need 
for cognitive testing of the enumerator questionnaire used to collect 
data from nonrespondents. 

The contractor carrying out the FDCA program will develop the 
operations control system, which is designed to manage field operations 
that rely on paper as well as those that rely upon the handheld 
computers. The Bureau is particularly concerned about this system 
because when it was tested as part of earlier dress rehearsal 
operations--for example, during group quarters validation--it was found 
to be unreliable. As a result, the workload for these operations had to 
be supplemented with additional paper-based efforts by local census 
office staff, instead of electronically as intended. The operations 
control system is critical because it is intended to provide managers 
with essential real-time information such as enumerator productivity 
and the status of workload such as interviews conducted and remaining. 
Bureau officials said that the manual workaround was manageable for the 
dress rehearsal with just two local census offices; however, such a 
manual workaround would be nearly impossible to do when operations are 
carried out nationwide next year. Officials said that they expect to 
review computer screen shots of the operations control system reports 
it will use to manage the nonresponse follow-up operation in January 
2009; however, the Bureau has not yet determined when and how testing 
of the operations control system before nonresponse follow-up, which 
begins in April 2010, will occur. 

The Bureau will be using newly developed systems for integrating 
responses and managing nonresponse follow-up workload that have not yet 
been fully tested in a census-like environment. The Bureau's contract 
for the Decennial Response Integration System, designed to help 
identify households that have not yet returned census forms and to 
collect the results from enumerators conducting nonresponse follow-up 
interviews, will process each mail return and enumerator questionnaire 
and transmit to the FDCA program the number of questionnaires received. 
In turn, FDCA will manage the nonresponse follow-up workload, in part 
by removing initial late mail returns from the list of housing units 
requiring follow-up visits. Consequently, depending on time and cost 
considerations, Bureau officials believe that the Bureau must conduct, 
at a minimum, a small scale simulation of the integration and 
communication between the Decennial Response Integration System and 
FDCA for such aspects as load testing for a paper-based operation, and 
interfaces such as when the paper is processed by the Decennial 
Response Integration System and when the check-in status is transmitted 
to individual local census offices through management reports processed 
by the FDCA program. When or how these tests will be completed is not 
clear. 

The Bureau's plans for nonresponse follow-up will also require changes 
in local census office infrastructure. The Bureau expects it will need 
additional hardware, including printing and scanning equipment, 
computers, and telephones. Further, the Bureau expects to scale the 
FDCA network to support a system for keying in large volumes of data 
related to hiring and payroll for over 700,000 field workers it plans 
to hire for the nonresponse follow-up operation. Previously, the Bureau 
expected to maintain field worker time reporting using the handheld 
computer. Also, the Bureau expected to hire fewer field workers. 

The Bureau's redesign has also changed the replacement mailing strategy 
which will be used in 2010. The replacement mailing is a second mailing 
sent to nonresponding households. Testing has shown that a second 
mailing increases the overall response rate and reduces costs by 
increasing the number of returns that come in by mail, decreasing the 
need for census field workers to collect census data in person. Prior 
to the redesign, the Bureau planned to send second mailings to all 
nonresponding households that initially received the census form in the 
mail. However these plans changed, in part because, according to the 
Bureau, without using handheld computers for nonresponse follow-up, it 
would not be able to dynamically remove late mail returns--including 
those resulting from the replacement mailing--from the enumerator 
assignments on a daily basis. The Bureau had to devise a way to balance 
the time available to print replacement questionnaires with the time 
available to remove late mail returns from the paper-based nonresponse 
follow-up workload. 

The Bureau now plans a multi-part approach. First, it will send 
approximately 25-30 million blanket replacement mailings to census 
tracts with low response rates, based on historical response rate data 
from 1990 and 2000 Census and the American Community Survey. As a 
result, all housing units in these selected census tracts would receive 
a second census form, regardless of whether or not they returned the 
initial form. Similarly, the Bureau plans to target a second mailing to 
an additional 15 million households in census tracts that are in the 
middle-range of mail response rates. Finally, the Bureau will not send 
a replacement mailing to households located in census tracts that 
previously had high mail response rates. This combination "blanket" and 
"targeted" mailing strategy is a new approach that will not be tested 
prior to the 2010 Census. If the replacement mailing does not function 
as planned, this strategy could confuse respondents in the blanket 
mailing areas and result in multiple responses from the same household 
that return both forms. It is instructive to consider that the Bureau's 
previous experience with a blanket second "replacement" questionnaire 
sent to all housing units located in the 1998 dress rehearsal sites 
caused a significant number of households with multiple responses. As a 
result, the replacement mailing was dropped from the 2000 Census design 
because the Bureau was concerned that it would have been overwhelming 
to process multiple census responses during the actual census. 

Moreover, without the benefit of implementing nonresponse follow-up 
during the dress rehearsal, the Bureau will not know how well its new 
system for removal of late mail returns will work. While the Bureau 
encourages respondents to mail back their census forms quickly, some 
are not returned until the middle of April or later, after the 
nonresponse follow-up operation has begun. To reduce the cost of 
nonresponse follow-up and to minimize respondent burden, it is 
beneficial to the Bureau to remove these late mail returns from the 
nonresponse follow-up universe. Because nonresponse follow-up will be 
paper-based rather than conducted with handheld computers, the Bureau 
will remove late mail returns with the FDCA program prior to April 20 
and manually thereafter; however, the recent Bureau plans provide only 
timelines for removing late mail returns and the Bureau has not yet 
finalized the workload estimates or how it will manage this work. Not 
having an opportunity to rehearse its strategy for removing late mail 
returns makes difficult any estimate of resulting workload. 

In addition, Bureau officials said that it will be important to conduct 
cognitive testing of the questionnaire used by enumerators for 
nonresponse follow-up. With the change from using handheld computers, a 
paper questionnaire will be used by census enumerators in the 2010 
nonresponse follow-up when making personal visits to housing units to 
collect census data. When developing this questionnaire, the Bureau 
plans to draw upon its extensive research and testing of interviewer- 
conducted questionnaires developed for other censuses and surveys as 
well as lessons learned in Census 2000. According to its May 8, 2008 
plans for conducting the paper-based nonresponse follow-up, the Bureau 
will conduct this cognitive and usability testing in early summer 2008 
and the testing will address both respondent interactions and ease of 
use for the census enumerators. The Bureau expects the questionnaire 
will have space for up to six people as in Census 2000 and will link 
other household members to the address via a continuation form; include 
coverage questions; meet the Decennial Response Integration System data 
capture specifications; and collect data on the outcome of the 
enumeration. 

Not being able to test the paper-based nonresponse follow-up in the 
2008 Dress Rehearsal introduces risk because the dress rehearsal will 
no longer be a dry-run of the decennial census. While the Bureau has 
carried out a paper-based follow-up operation in the past, there are 
now new procedures and system interfaces that, as a result of its 
exclusion from the dress rehearsal, will not be tested under census- 
like conditions. We discussed the nonresponse follow-up plan with 
Bureau officials and they acknowledge the importance of testing new and 
changed activities of nonresponse follow-up as well as system 
interfaces to reduce risk. However, because plans have changed for many 
aspects of the nonresponse follow-up operation, Bureau officials are 
uncertain about testing and are still trying to determine which 
activities and interfaces will be tested and when that testing will 
occur. 

It is important to note that the Bureau has taken some important 
initial steps to manage the replannning effort. For example, the Bureau 
has added temporary "action officers" to its 2010 governance structure. 
As of April 17, 2008, six action officers had been identified to 
achieve the six objectives in its Recovery Plan--nonresponse follow-up 
replan, reduce FDCA risk, improve communications, document decennial 
program testing, improve program management, and baseline an integrated 
schedule. Each action officer is assigned to one of the objectives. 
These action officers are intended to be catalysts, liaisons, and 
facilitators responsible for ensuring that the tasks and milestones for 
each objective are met. Also, the action officers meet with the 
Associate and Assistant Directors to facilitate quick decision-making 
and on a regular basis provide updates on the status of plans. Weekly, 
the Bureau's Director meets with the Department of Commerce's Deputy 
Secretary to discuss the status of the replan for the 2010 Census. 

The Bureau has also issued documents that describe actions it will take 
to identify and manage risk. The Bureau's 2010 Census Program 
Management Plan, issued May 5, 2008, contains information about the 
risk management process and notes that 24 program-level or high level- 
risks have been identified, were currently being validated, and that 
each of these 24 risks would have either mitigation or contingency 
plans associated with them. However, according to Bureau officials, 
these 24 risks were associated with an automated operation and the 
Bureau had not yet developed risks related to the paper-based 
nonresponse follow-up operation. We requested information on these 24 
risks, and on June 4, 2008, the Bureau provided us with an updated 
program-level risk document. The update now includes 25 program-level 
risks and identifies several risks related to the redesign including 
late design changes and testing. However, the Bureau has not updated 
project-level risks--which are risks specific to an operation or 
system--for nonresponse follow-up since the change to paper was 
announced. Once the Bureau provides project-level risk documents, we 
will assess the Bureau's actions to identify, prioritize, and manage 
risk for the replanned nonresponse follow-up operation. 

Bureau Has Improved Program Management and Oversight, but Cost 
Estimates Need Timely Reconciling: 

The Bureau has taken steps to strengthen the FDCA program office 
leadership and expertise. The Bureau has recently assigned an 
experienced Bureau manager to manage the FDCA program office. According 
to the Bureau, the manager has extensive experience in directing major 
IT projects. The Bureau has also hired an outside IT expert, to provide 
advice and guidance to the FDCA program office. The Bureau has also 
implemented key activities to help improve management and transparency 
of contractor activities. Bureau officials have established a schedule 
for daily assessment meetings with contractor personnel; are conducting 
weekly status assessment and resolution meetings with the Deputy 
Director and Director; and are holding regular meetings with the 
Department of Commerce. 

The Bureau has obtained cost estimates for FDCA from both Harris and 
MITRE, based on the recent changes to the scope of the program. In 
particular, these cost estimates include the January 16, 2008 
requirements and the decision for a paper-based nonresponse follow-up 
operation. Harris is estimating that the revised FDCA program will cost 
roughly $1.3 billion; however, this cost estimate is preliminary and 
expected to be further refined. 

At the direction of the Bureau, MITRE developed an independent 
government cost estimate in April 2008. MITRE's estimate is about $726 
million, which is nearly $600 million less than the contractor's rough 
order of magnitude estimate. A comparison of the two estimates reveals 
significant differences in two areas: software development and common 
support. In particular, Harris is estimating that software development 
will be about $200 million greater than MITRE's independent estimate; 
and that common support will be about $300 million greater than MITRE's 
estimate. 

* Software development ($200 million difference): MITRE officials noted 
that these differences could be attributed to different assumptions 
based on abnormal software development (such as starts and stops due to 
budget instability), labor rates used, amount of additional staff 
needed in order to maintain the schedule and to address quality and 
testing issues, as well as cost contingency reserves. 

* Common support ($300 million difference): Although this program 
element contains the largest cost difference, MITRE officials noted 
that they could not identify the primary cost drivers that caused the 
gap. However, possible explanations could be cost contingency reserves 
that may have been built into the Harris estimate, labor rates used, 
unexpected high level of change management personnel resulting from 
budget and requirements changes, and other potential impacts on 
management resulting from program instability. 

Harris had originally planned to deliver the cost estimate by August 
20, 2008. However, the Bureau requested that this estimate be delivered 
sooner and Harris recently agreed to deliver this cost estimate by July 
15, 2008. The Bureau and contractor plan to reconcile and agree to a 
final estimate by August 15, 2008. We plan to analyze the independent 
cost estimate and the Harris final estimate for the program. As part of 
this analysis, we intend to evaluate the methodology, as well as 
underlying assumptions, used to develop each estimate. 

The Bureau needs to act swiftly to finalize the FDCA program's cost 
estimate and renegotiate the contract. In particular, it will need to 
have a final cost estimate from Harris in mid-July, and will need to 
reconcile this estimate with MITRE's independent estimate thoroughly 
and quickly to have a final cost estimate by August 15, 2008. Our body 
of work on the lessons learned on other major IT acquisitions, 
highlights the importance of establishing realistic cost estimates 
(through reconciliation of program and independent cost estimates), 
using fixed price contract techniques for low risk procurement areas, 
where appropriate, and establishing management reserve funds for 
unexpected costs. In moving forward, it is important that the Bureau 
exercise diligence in finalizing the contract terms to ensure that the 
FDCA program is conducted in a timely and efficient manner for the 2010 
decennial. 

Bureau's Integrated Schedule Identified Activities and Associated 
Milestones but Did Not Address Risks and Costs: 

The Bureau designed its 2010 Census Integrated Schedule, dated May 22, 
2008, to provide information on its schedule framework and activity- 
level design as well as to describe the program complexity and methods 
that the Bureau will use to manage the 44 interdependent operations, 
incorporating over 11,000 unique activities, to conduct the 2010 
Census. The Bureau briefed committee staff and us on this final 
integrated schedule last week. Based on this briefing and our 
preliminary review of the schedule, we can offer some observations. 

The integrated schedule does identify activities that need to be 
accomplished for the decennial and the Bureau establishes milestones 
for completing tasks. However, the schedule does not link those 
activities with associated risks nor does it capture the cost of 
operations. We previously recommended to manage the 2010 Census and 
contain costs, the Bureau develop a comprehensive, integrated project 
plan for the 2010 Census that should include risk and mitigation plans, 
updated cost estimates, and detailed milestones that identify all 
significant relationships.[Footnote 3] We also observed that testing 
the handheld computer that will be used in the address canvassing 
operation--an activity we have previously identified as important in 
mitigating risks associated with use of new technology--overlapped with 
its deployment. Specifically, in describing the testing and integrating 
of handheld computers for the address canvassing operation, the 
schedule indicates that this activity will begin in December 2008 and 
be completed in late March 2009; however, the deployment of the 
handheld device for address canvassing will actually start in February 
2009, before the completion of testing and integration. It would appear 
uncertain that the testing and integration milestones would permit 
modification to technology or operations prior to the onset of 
operations. Further, the Bureau's integrated schedule does not 
specifically define testing (e.g., system, integration, and end-to- 
end). Separately, the Bureau on June 6, 200 produced a testing plan for 
the address canvassing operation. 

On May 22, 2008, the Bureau also issued the 2010 Census Key Operational 
Milestone Schedule. This represents a higher level summary of key 
operations and is linked to the more exhaustive integrated schedule. 
The Bureau identified about 175 activities that it considers key and 
that are used by senior management to oversee the 2010 Census. However, 
there are several notable exceptions to this schedule of key 
operational milestones. For example, there is no key milestone for 
identification of program and project risks in light of the significant 
change in planned operations, nor for developing necessary mitigation 
or contingency plans. Including key milestones for risk identification 
and mitigation in its high-level schedule will enable the Bureau to 
stay focused on activities which can directly impact the quality or 
cost of the 2010 Census. Nor does the schedule include a milestone for 
when testing of key activities related to nonresponse follow-up will 
take place. This is despite the fact that this represents the single 
largest field operation and will not be part of a dress rehearsal. The 
Bureau does recognize that it could include in its high-level summary 
schedule a key milestone for nonresponse follow-up testing activities. 
Further testing schedules for address canvassing and the operations 
control system also do not appear as key milestones, though they do 
appear in the detailed integrated schedule. Including these critical 
activities as part of the list of key milestones could ensure greater 
management attention, as well as help in focus oversight. We are 
currently reviewing in greater detail the summary and integrated 
schedule of milestones and the recently revised program-level risk 
document provided on June 4, 2008. 

In summary, the Bureau has taken some important steps toward managing 
the changes it plans for conducting the 2010 Census. Yet much remains 
uncertain and in the absence of a full dress rehearsal, the risks to a 
successful decennial census are substantial. Risks are especially high 
for the 2010 Census nonresponse follow-up operation both because the 
Bureau will not reap the benefits of having a dress rehearsal for this 
key operation but also because it is changing its approach late in the 
decade. These make even more compelling the need for the Bureau to 
specify what tests it plans to conduct in the absence of a dress 
rehearsal and when such testing will take place. 

The Bureau will also need to take several next steps to finalize the 
FDCA program's cost estimate. In particular, it will need to have a 
final cost estimate from Harris, as soon as possible, in order to have 
a sufficient amount of time to complete modifications to the contract 
by the end of the fiscal year. Our body of work on the lessons learned 
on other major IT acquisitions, highlights the importance of 
establishing realistic cost estimates (through reconciliation of 
program and independent cost estimates), using fixed price contract 
techniques for low risk procurement areas, such as hardware, and 
establishing management reserve funds for unexpected costs. In moving 
forward, it is important that the Bureau exercise diligence in 
finalizing the contract terms to ensure that the FDCA program can be 
conducted in a timely and efficient manner. 

Finally, the Bureau has developed a detailed integrated schedule of 
activities that need to be conducted during the 2010 Census and 
established milestones for completing them. It will be important for 
the Bureau to ensure that among the key milestones and activities that 
are highlighted for management and oversight are those that represent 
the greatest impact on the ultimate cost and quality of the 2010 
Census. 

Mr. Chairmen and members of the committee and subcommittee, this 
concludes our statement. We would be happy to respond to any questions 
that you or members of the subcommittee may have at this time. 

If you have any questions on matters discussed in this testimony, 
please contact Mathew J. Scirè at (202) 512-6806 or David A. Powner at 
(202) 512-9286 or by email at sciremj@gao.gov or pownerd@gao.gov. Other 
key contributors to this testimony include Carol Cha, Betty Clark, 
Vijay D'Souza, Sarah Farkas, Richard Hung, Andrea Levine, Catherine 
Myrick, Lisa Pearson, Cynthia Scott, and Niti Tandon. 

[End of testimony] 

Footnotes: 

[1] GAO, Information Technology: Significant Problems of Critical 
Automation Program Contribute to Risks Facing 2010 Census, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-550T] (Washington, D.C.: 
Mar. 5, 2008). See also GAO, Census 2010: Census at Critical Juncture 
for Implementing Risk Reduction Strategies, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-659T] (Washington, D.C.: 
Apr. 9, 2008). 

[2] A replacement mailing is a replacement questionnaire sent to 
households to remind and encourage them to return their census 
questionnaire. 

[3] GAO, 2010 Census: Cost and Design Issues Need to Be Addressed Soon, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-37] 
(Washington, D.C.: Jan. 15, 2004). 

[End of section] 

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