An Assessment of 1980 Census Results in 10 Urban Areas

GGD-81-29: Published: Dec 24, 1980. Publicly Released: Dec 24, 1980.

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GAO monitored operations of the 1980 Census in selected areas to detect any widespread, improper altering or recording of population counts. The examination focused on the major processes for taking the census: data collection, processing, and tabulation.

GAO found that: (1) population counts on most questionnaires returned in the mail were accepted as received, with no evidence of improper adjustments; (2) most population counts directly obtained by census employees appeared in line with counts reported by similar households; (3) programs for identifying persons not counted were sometimes not effective because of poor management and a lack of public cooperation; (4) local officials were generally satisfied with their new opportunity to review census counts; (5) the effectiveness of local reviews in producing more accurate counts is uncertain because results were not documented; and (6) questionnaires were accurately tabulated. The problems GAO found with the census did not indicate any intentional inflating of population counts. If anything, the problems detected could lead to undercounting in large metropolitan areas.

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