Census Reform:

Major Expansion in Use of Administrative Records for 2000 Is Doubtful

T-GGD-92-54: Published: Jun 26, 1992. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 1992.

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GAO discussed the Census Bureau's efforts to assess the feasibility of using administrative records to enhance the census process. GAO noted that: (1) the Bureau's use of administrative records to enhance the census count is hampered by issues involving access to records, record coverage, data limitations, record matching, and privacy; (2) the Bureau did not significantly expand its use of administrative records between the 1980 and 1990 censuses; (3) the Bureau used commercial mailing lists as the basis for its address list, and used administrative records to identify locations where it would need special counting procedures; (4) the Bureau also uses administrative records to evaluate census accuracy; (5) the Bureau is researching alternative census designs for the 2000 census, and is identifying the most feasible options for testing; (6) as part of those research efforts, the Bureau is studying issues associated with the use of administrative records, including identifying necessary computer matching and sorting software, identifying the contents of federal, state, and local administrative records, studying records access, considering testing alternatives, and assessing public reaction in light of privacy concerns; and (7) unless the Bureau makes continued progress in reducing the number of alternatives, the possibility for meaningful change in the 2000 census will be severely diminished.

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