2010 Census:

Census Bureau Has Improved the Local Update of Census Addresses Program, but Challenges Remain

GAO-07-736: Published: Jun 14, 2007. Publicly Released: Jun 14, 2007.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Robert N. Goldenkoff
(202) 512-6794
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The Department of Commerce's (Commerce) U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) seeks updated information on the addresses and maps of housing units and group quarters from state, local, and tribal governments through the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Program. Prepared under the Comptroller General's authority, this report assesses (1) the status of the LUCA Program, (2) the Bureau's response to prior recommendations by GAO and others and new challenges related to the program, and (3) the Bureau's plans for conducting the program in areas affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. GAO reviewed LUCA program documents, met with and surveyed participants in the LUCA Dress Rehearsal, and interviewed Bureau officials and local officials in the Gulf Coast region.

The Bureau has conducted its planned LUCA operations in accordance with its published timeline. The Bureau has also taken steps to reduce workloads and burdens and improve training for localities that participate in LUCA--all areas GAO and others had identified as needing improvement. For instance, to reduce participant workload and burden, the Bureau provided a longer period for reviewing and updating LUCA materials; provided options for submitting materials for the LUCA Program; combined the collection of LUCA addresses from two separate operations into one integrated program; and created MTPS, which is designed to assist LUCA Program participants in reviewing and updating address and map data. Also, the Bureau has planned improvements to the 2010 LUCA Program training (i.e., specialized workshops for informational and then technical training) and plans to supplement the workshops with CBT. However, the Bureau faces new challenges. For instance, the Bureau tested MTPS with only one local government. Other local officials we spoke with had problems converting Bureau-provided address files. In addition, the Bureau did not test its CBT software in the LUCA Dress Rehearsal. Additional challenges stem from the damage to the Gulf Coast region caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Officials in localities in hurricane-affected areas questioned their ability to participate in the LUCA Program. The continuous changes in housing stock may hinder local governments' ability to accurately update their address lists and maps. The condition of the housing stock is likely to present additional challenges for the Bureau's address canvassing operation (in which the Bureau verifies addresses) in the form of decreased productivity for Bureau staff, workforce shortages, and issues associated with identifying vacant and uninhabitable structures. The Bureau created a task force to assess the implications of storm-related issues that proposed a number of mitigating actions. However, the Bureau has no plans for modifying the address canvassing operation or subsequent operations in the Gulf Coast region.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: In order for the Bureau to address the remaining challenges facing its implementation of the 2010 LUCA Program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Bureau to establish a process for localities that agreed to participate in the LUCA Program but found no changes in their review to explicitly communicate to the Bureau that they have no changes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Bureau has developed a draft letter to be mailed to LUCA participants that have not submitted LUCA changes after the end of the 120-day review period. The letter provides a checklist of reasons why changes might not have been submitted (or an address list under options 2 and 3) and includes a space for the respondent to submit another reason. The draft letter was included as an attachment to the 60-day letter from Commerce. The letter will be finalized after the Census Bureau has considered public comments (in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act).

    Recommendation: In order for the Bureau to address the remaining challenges facing its implementation of the 2010 LUCA Program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Bureau to assess the contribution of the LUCA Program to the final census population counts, as recommended by the National Research Council (to permit an evaluation of the 2010 LUCA Program in preparation for 2020).

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

    Status: Open

    Comments: March 2011: The Census Bureau published timeframes for its 2010 Census Program for Evaluations and Experiments that included an assessment of the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) documenting final volumes, rates, and costs for the operation. The Bureau planned to complete its assessment of LUCA in May 2012. June 2012: The Bureau completed an assessment of the 2010 Census Local Update of Census Addresses but did not include an assessment of the LUCA contribution to the final census count. However, the Bureau has not completed research and testing projects, including one on LUCA, that would inform its decision in 2015 about the 2020 Census design. April 2013: We requested a status update on the Census Bureau's implementation of this recommendation, but did not receive any information. January 2014: We reached out to agency officials and are awaiting a response.

    Recommendation: In order for the Bureau to address the remaining challenges facing its implementation of the 2010 LUCA Program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Bureau to provide localities not using MTPS, via its public Web site, its LUCA technical help desk, and other appropriate means, instructions on converting files from the Bureau's format to the appropriate format for software most commonly used by participating localities to update address information.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Bureau's Help Desk contractors have prepared text and screen shot instructions for converting data between a variety of common formats and the Bureau's data formats. The Bureau will disseminate this information via its website and to Help Desk callers via email, fax, or mail, and expand this information when responding to inquiries from other participants.

    Recommendation: In order for the Bureau to address the remaining challenges facing its implementation of the 2010 LUCA Program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Bureau to assess potential usability issues with the LUCA Program's computer-based training and MAF/TIGER Partnership Software (MTPS) by randomly selecting localities in which to test the software packages or by providing alternative means to assess such issues before participants begin reviewing and updating materials for the 2010 LUCA Program in August 2007, and provide information on how localities can mitigate issues identified in such assessments via its public Web site and its LUCA technical help desk.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Census Bureau contacted the Maryland-Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) to seek its help in identifying local officials willing to evaluate the pre-final version of the LUCA computer-based training. Two of 5 officials identified by the MNCPPC participated in the evaluation as well as Help Desk Contractors. Improvements identified were incorporated in the LUCA computer-based training. The Help Desk contractors were also reviewing the MTPS and MTPS CBT. As a result of that effort, the Bureau has expanded its existing instructions and made other improvements to the MTPS users' guides as well as provided additional information via the website, fax, mail or email.

    Recommendation: In order for the Bureau to address the remaining challenges facing its implementation of the 2010 LUCA Program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Bureau to develop strategy, plans and milestones for operations in areas in the Gulf Coast that address the challenges field staff are likely to encounter in conducting address canvassing and subsequent decennial operations in communities affected by the hurricanes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Bureau acted on this recommendation and expanded the number of workshops and amount of community outreach in the Gulf Coast--from which they received lots of input. In February 2009 the Bureau created a job-aid for natural disaster areas which was used during the 2010 Address Canvassing operation. The Bureau also created an Appendix to the address canvassing training materials which offered supplemental procedures--including training modules and visual aids--for the Gulf Coast and other Katrina/Rita-affected areas. Additionally, the Bureau has allocated more partnership resources and Regional technician resources on the ground to engage local communities so that they may better develop their plans.

    Jul 30, 2014

    Jul 29, 2014

    Jul 22, 2014

    Jun 17, 2014

    Jun 11, 2014

    Jun 10, 2014

    May 28, 2014

    May 21, 2014

    May 12, 2014

    Looking for more? Browse all our products here