Decennial Censuses:

Historical Data on Enumerator Productivity Are Limited

GAO-01-208R: Published: Jan 5, 2001. Publicly Released: Jan 5, 2001.

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GAO reviewed census data to better clarify the relationship between the Census Bureau's data collection workload and the time and work force needed to complete it. These factors--used to calculate productivity--are some of the largest drivers of census costs, and the Bureau developed its budget for the 2000 Census using a model that contained key assumptions about expected workload and enumerator productivity. GAO was unable to calculate productivity levels for the 2000 census or most of the earlier censuses examined because data was largely unavailable, incomplete, or not comparable. Moreover, definitional differences in how the Bureau counted the number of enumerators who worked on the census, and variations in census-taking methodologies, limited the comparability of productivity data from one census to the next.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On May 11, 2001, as part of its analysis of enumerator productivity data, the Bureau included data on enumerator production rates at the local census office and national levels. This information included a detailed explanation of the extent and nature of anomalies in the data and the impact these anomalies have on data quality.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Bureau has the enumerator productivity data it needs to develop accurate budget, planning, and scheduling justifications for the 2010 Census, the Secretary of Commerce should ensure that the Bureau refines the available productivity data from the 2000 Census as planned. At a minimum, the Bureau should identify the extent and nature of any anomalies, the impact they have on the data quality, and the extent to which data can be compared by type of local census office.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On May 11, 2001, as part of its analysis of enumerator productivity data, the Bureau included data on the 2000 Census preliminary enumerator production rates by local census office type and at the national level. This information included a detailed methodology that documented how these rates were adjusted and calculated.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Bureau has the enumerator productivity data it needs to develop accurate budget, planning and scheduling justifications for the 2010 Census, the Secretary of Commerce should ensure that the Bureau fully documents how its enumerator productivity rates are calculated and report productivity data by type of local census office.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

 

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