Status of 1990 Census Promotion and Outreach Activities

T-GGD-89-40: Published: Sep 20, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 1989.

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GAO discussed the Bureau of the Census' promotion and outreach activities to encourage participation in the 1990 census. GAO found that: (1) after the 1980 census, a Bureau evaluation recommended hiring a promotion office chief and a full-time fiscal officer and continuing public service advertising campaigns, public opinion studies, and a congressional media program; (2) the Bureau submitted a reorganization proposal to the Department of Commerce in 1985, which included creation of a Census Promotion Chief, but Commerce did not approve the proposal until January 1987 and did not hire the Chief until March 1988; (3) the Chief had to focus much of his time on budget issues because Commerce did not hire a fiscal officer, which diverted time from implementing the promotion program; (4) prior to establishing the promotion office, such problems as duplication of effort and strained working relationships between Bureau units occurred, which Commerce could have alleviated with the appointment of a Bureau director; (5) although Commerce placed staff from three Bureau organizations involved in promotion activities under a single Bureau executive, that could not fully substitute for the needed leadership of a Bureau director; (6) despite the difficulties, the Bureau started its advertising campaigns earlier, hired more staff than in 1980, and focused more attention on minority populations; and (7) although the Bureau anticipates a decrease in public cooperation compared to the 1980 census, its promotion and outreach activities could be important to obtaining a complete and accurate census.

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