Decennial Census:

Preliminary 1990 Lessons Learned Indicate Need to Rethink Census Approach

T-GGD-90-18: Published: Aug 8, 1990. Publicly Released: Aug 8, 1990.

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GAO discussed the Bureau of the Census' need for reassessing the 1990 decennial census methodology. GAO noted that: (1) decennial census costs have risen dramatically, with Bureau-estimated expenditures of about $2.6 billion for 1990; (2) reduced public cooperation significantly affected costs and data quality; and (3) staff shortages for short-term employment delayed the completion of the 1990 census. GAO believes that challenges affecting the 1990 census and reassessment of the current census include: (1) streamlined and alternative data collection approaches; (2) census methodology alternatives; (3) the extent to which population sampling could be used; and (4) identification and prioritization of long-term information needs.

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