Decennial Census:

Test Design Proposals Are Promising, But Fundamental Reform Is Still at Risk

T-GGD-94-12: Published: Oct 7, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 7, 1993.

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GAO discussed the Census Bureau's planning for the 2000 Decennial Census. GAO noted that: (1) in August 1993, the Bureau issued a test design proposal to supplement its traditional counting methods with statistical population sampling methods to lessen undercounts and costs, increase public cooperation, improve its address list, and increase the use of new technologies to collect and process data; (2) the Bureau has not finalized its plans, since other activities are behind schedule, and funding is uncertain due to proposed budget cuts; (3) there is no consensus on what data to collect and what collection methods to use; (4) the Bureau has not developed the costs, operational parameters, or funding for its proposed alternative collection methods; (5) the Bureau's most promising proposal is the one-number census that uses statistical estimating methods to adjust the population count, but the Bureau needs to do further research on the error profiles and specific data collection methods; (6) more research is needed on the proposals to reduce costly field work, such as increasing public cooperation and sampling for nonresponding households; (7) the Bureau's and the Postal Service's effort to improve the census address list is lagging; and (8) the Bureau will not be able to use new electronic data collection methods in the 1995 test because of contracting and funding problems.

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