Decennial Census:

Answers to Hearing Questions on Census Address List

GGD-00-8R: Published: Oct 29, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 29, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program's impact on the census address list, focusing on: (1) the importance of local government participation in updating the census address list; (2) the options available to local governments if the Bureau of the Census does not include their address change recommendations in the address list; (3) the percentage of total addresses that were eligible to participate in LUCA 1998; (4) the accuracy of the Master Address File (MAF); and (5) whether local governments declined to participate in LUCA 1998 because of their frustrations with the inaccurate and incomplete information that the Bureau sent for their review.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO believes that local government participation in the development of the census address list is important to ensuring an accurate and complete address list; (2) according to Bureau officials, local government officials may have a greater potential for identifying some housing units that are hard to find or are hidden, simply because of their knowledge and access to local data; (3) providing local governments with opportunities to actively participate in the development of the address list can have an added benefit for the Bureau in building local governments' understanding of and support for the census; (4) local governments have key roles in ensuring a successful census, not just in developing the address list but during subsequent census operations as well; (5) in order to try to develop as complete a mailing list as possible, the Bureau decided to include in the vendor-provided address list those address changes recommended by local governments that block canvassing had not confirmed and field verification had yet to check; (6) should a local government disagree with the Bureau's final determination about whether to accept or reject a suggested address change, the local government can appeal the Bureau's decision to the Census Address List Appeals Office; (7) according to Bureau officials, in cases where the Bureau rejected an address and the address was not reinstated on appeal, the Bureau will not follow up if a questionnaire is not returned; (8) for addresses that were appealed and reinstated by the appeals office, the Bureau will send a census enumerator to follow up when a census questionnaire is not returned, as is consistent with the Bureau's normal follow-up procedures; (9) according to Bureau officials, about 80 percent of the nation's addresses are considered "city-style" and thus would be the types of addresses that could have been reviewed by the 16,675 jurisdictions during LUCA 1998; (10) it is not possible to estimate the level of the accuracy of MAF at this time; (11) the accuracy of the address list ultimately will not be known until after the 2000 Census has been conducted and when the Bureau evaluates the coverage of housing units in the MAF; (12) however, the Bureau expects that the MAF for the 2000 Census will be at least as accurate as its address list was for the 1990 Census; and (13) GAO does not know whether problems in the accuracy or completeness of the Bureau's address lists or maps resulted in local governments declining to participate in the program.

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