Status of the 1990 Decennial Census

T-GGD-88-42: Published: Jun 17, 1988. Publicly Released: Jun 17, 1988.

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GAO discussed the Census Bureau's preparations for the 1990 decennial census. GAO noted that the Bureau: (1) plans to hire over 300,000 temporary employees to staff about 450 temporary offices; (2) estimates that census activities will cost $2.6 billion; and (3) plans to automate certain activities to eliminate problems it experienced during the 1980 census regarding data dissemination delays, error-prone clerical operations, poor-quality maps, and cost escalation. GAO also noted problems that the Bureau experienced in procuring and implementing its minicomputer system, including: (1) reduced time for software development and testing; (2) a $1.1-million bid protest settlement; (3) a lack of system validation and verification under census-like operations; and (4) cost increases due to changed or postponed pre-census activities, such as address checking. GAO believes that, although the Bureau will be able to conduct the 1990 census and meet statutory deadlines, it: (1) will operate in a less cost-effective manner than it planned; and (2) needs to develop a contingency plan in case its minicomputer system does not function as planned.

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