The Decennial Census:

Potential Risks to Data Quality Resulting From Budget Reductions and Cost Increases

T-GGD-90-30: Published: Mar 27, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 27, 1990.

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GAO discussed census issues, focusing on the Census Bureau's actions to accommodate the $57.6-million reduction in its $1.3-billion fiscal year (FY) 1990 budget request and the effect of those actions on the quality of census data. GAO noted that: (1) for FY 1988 through FY 1990, the Bureau made changes to accommodate its budget reductions; (2) the Bureau initially cancelled an expensive verification program that the Department of Commerce subsequently reinstated, but the Bureau planned to use alternative funding for the program, which could adversely affect census data quality and other operations; (3) the Bureau reduced edit followup for most mail-out questionnaires, and took other actions to accommodate unanticipated cost increases, the 1990 budget sequestration, and new program priorities; (4) the Bureau may experience additional difficulties in recruiting and retaining temporary workers; and (5) a lower-than-expected mail response rate could contribute to future delays and additional cost increases.

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